Friday, February 08, 2013

The Metamorphosis: Just Say No to Bugs!

As mentioned yesterday, I want to clear a few items from my head before we continue with MotT. As they say, bloggin' out your noggin keeps the bean clean.

As you know, I don't like to just read a book -- in this case, James Schall's The Modern Age -- and toss it aside without further re-flection. The following are just spontaneous impressions, not any kind of formal review. Some of them go to yesterday's comment thread, in which the question was raised as to whether man is evolving (in the vulgar Darwinian sense) or whether he has a fixed nature.

Our position has always been that we are orthoparadoxically evolving toward our fixed nature, both in general (i.e., "humanness" as such) and individually (i.e., a deepening of our unique personal identity, which is ultimately only possible within the intersubjective space between person and Person, ¶ and O). Man's puzzling charge is to become who you are! (emphasis God's).

True, there are other theories, but they don't interest me because they don't account for my life and my experience. I concede that these theories my well apply to insects or bats or atheists or progressives.

Which reminds me -- one of the literary touchstones of the 20th century is Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Its famous deadpan opening line very much expresses the bleak existential tenor of the times, and proved to be an eerily prescient meta phor the nightmares to come:

One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.

Yes, one of those days. Or centuries, rather. Or administrations.

"What's happened to me," he thought. It was no dream.

Devolution in action! Or evolution, rather, because if metaphysical Darwinism is "true" (which it cannot be, but just for the sake of argumentativeness), then man has exactly the dignity and value of an insect, no more, no less. In that case, Kafka is not just a neurotic schmendrick with terribly low self-esteem, but a prophet.

Millions of European Jews of the 1930s woke up with exactly this experience, having been transformed overnight by evolutionist Nazi ideology into "monstrous verminous bugs."

But the Jews, as always, were the canaries in the world-historical ghoulmind. In the long run -- as promised by the Creator -- things never turn out well for those who persecute the Jews.

Indeed, a very handy way to locate the center of evil is to find out where Jews are being persecuted and dehumanized. Today it is within Islam, academia, and the international left.

Unfortunately for us, the disease has now spread to the White House -- unfortunate because those who curse the Jews are cursed in return. What a way to fritter away divine protection. And for what? So jihadis and liberal fascists will finally love us?

The bottom lyin' looks like this, which I just randomly stumbled upon while looking for an image of Gregor. Just say no to Bob!

No O, no I. No me, no thee, no we, no three. No ʘ and no pilcrow (¶) either.

The only way to retain our Slack and cultivate our Higher Sanity -- and avoid being transformed into an insect -- is to completely reject and bypass the postmodern Creepy Crawler bugmaker machinery.

My son is at that age -- almost eight -- when he is really into dinosaurs. We've been reading dinosaur books at bedtime, but it has never occurred to me to remind him that the ultimate lesson here is that human beings are no different from the dinosaurs, just another meaningless freak of evolution that will soon enough depart from the terrestrial stage, only to be replaced by another freak. And with any luck, this freak will be less destructive to the Mother Gaia than human beastlings are. You know, as if it matters what the fuck happens to the planet if we aren't here to enjoy it.

In other words, I don't transform him into planetary vermin. Which is what would surely be happening if he were being subjected to a secular brainwash in one of our intellectually and spiritually devolved public schools, where one learns how to be a compliant insectoid member of the statist hive.

All of the above occurred to me -- implicitly, anyway -- upon reading a sentence from The Modern Age. Schall makes a passing remark about the forced materialism of the Soviet state, and about how this compulsory misosophy "is a sign of imprisonment in this world not only by a coercive regime but by modern thought itself" (emphasis mine).

One might as well say: One morning, while sitting in poli sci class, Gregor Samsa was disabused of his humanist fantasies of dignity and meaning, and told that an infallible herd of half-educated tenured apes had determined that he was a random and meaningless product of natural selection.

Or: One dreary November morn, Gregor Samsa was dismayed to learn that he had been changed overnight into an anonymous cog in Obama's collectivist machine.

Or: One morning, Gregor Samsa was roused from holy innocence and charged with the vague thought crime of being a guilt-stained and verminous Enemy of the People.

Again, I'm trying to spare my son from all these idiocies, and from an infrahuman fate more generally, i.e., forced materialism. For the truth is much, much stranger. Something like:

One fine morning, as humanoid primates were just waking up from some weird enough prehistorical dream, they discovered that they had been transfigured into an image of God, with all this implies.

Or: One morning, Gagdad Bob awakened to an empty procrustean bed and realized that his professors had been lying to him, and that he wasn't an insect at all. Rather, he woke up to the surprising deuscovery that he was a hooraysurrected mirrorcle of the Abbasolute!

Truth is much stranger than fact.

Whoops, where'd 'ego?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

If This Post Doesn't Make You Want to Vomit, There's Something Wrong with You

Moral indignation is not truly sincere unless it literally ends in vomiting. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

This is not just a blog, and sometimes not even that. Rather, it's just an all-purpose clearing house for the thoughts that come into my head. In other words, blogging helps to keep my melon clean and empty, as it should be.

But sometimes these are just one-off thoughts, unconnected to anything else -- you know, as in Larry King's head. I could always tweet these fragments, but I found that medium to be more taxing than it's worth. Besides, if people want me, they know where to find me. No need to irritweet them with constant reminders that I'm here.

So before we continue with the Magician, I just want to offload a few pieces of my mind.

The other day, a commenter asked what my main beef is with Ken Wilber. Well, one would surely be that he is an evolutionist and I am not. This has nothing to do with belief in evolution or natural selection, but rather, whether we are just a stage or a phase on the way to something else, something "better" or "higher." True, as soon as you think about it it makes no sense, but it is nevertheless one more pestilent pneumapathology that must be confronted.

I have several objections to such a metaphysic. First, if true, it robs man of his intrinsic value and dignity, because it means that all of the human beings who preceded us weren't only "incomplete," so to speak, but just a means to arrive at us, the better and more important people.

Yes, everyone likes to feel like a VIP -- a Very Impressive Primate -- but the immediate corollary is that we are just a means to some superior end -- to the Better Sort at the end of the evolutionary rainbow. You know, people like Wilber, or that quintessential Evolutionary Being of Light, King Barry himself.

This is another example of a "bad infinite," because it actually ends up depriving us of any standard, and relativizes everything. There can be no final, unalterable truth, because we can always evolve into something better tomorrow, or in a hundred or a thousand years. With one exception: "The progressive believes that everything soon becomes obsolete, except his ideas" (Don Colacho's aphorisms).

For which reason the leftist also sees the irony in everything but himself. The ridiculousness of the left? Forget about it. They're not sufficiently evolved to know about that.

But the classical liberal tradition -- and the Western tradition more generally -- is founded upon certain final and unchanging truths that preserve and protect man's infinite value, for example, that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. If the evolutionist metaphysic is "true," then the immediate implication is that human beings are neither created nor equal. We are better than past humans -- woo hoo! -- but future humans are better than us -- d'oh!

By what standard? Oh, you're not supposed to ask that. Remember, for the evolutionist, all is in flux, so there can't actually be any standard. This is not to suggest that they won't try to slip one in the back door, hence, a dreadful Deepak will be the first to tell you that he is more "evolved" than those evil conservatives who believe in absolute standards through which to measure evolution. To put it another way, either evolution explains man or man explains evolution.

Which leads to the other problem with the evolutionist metaphysic: that it simply doesn't see what man is. For man can only know the absolute because he partakes of the absolute, which is again the source of his dignity, his value, and his purpose.

Don't try to fool yourself here, because this is very much an either/or question: either man partakes of the absolute, or he is nothing. I think once you realize this central truth, you can never be an evolutionist or a progressive leftist. And you probably haven't fully realized it if these two ideologies don't make you want to vomit. The realization should be that powerful.

For us, any man at any time has access to absolute -- and therefore saving -- truth, for this is what defines man. Man is surely "in between," as suggested by evolutionists, except we are not between what we presently are and some future mutation. Rather, we are first and foremost between matter and God. In between man and God there is a further vertical hierarchy, but it is fixed, not some epiphenomenon of random terrestrial mutation. Hence, for example, the necessity of angels, of the community of saints, of the Fellowship of Post-Biological Raccoons who reach across the great divide and throw us the occasional bone from on high, etc.

Here Schuon expresses the point in a way that is both exceptionally clear and beautiful: the object of man's existence

"is to be in the middle: it is to transcend matter while being situated there, and to realize the light, the Sky, starting from this intermediary level. It is true that the other creatures also participate in life, but man synthesizes them: he carries all life within himself and thus becomes the spokesman for all life, the vertical axis where life opens onto the spirit and where it becomes spirit. In all terrestrial creatures the cold inertia of matter becomes heat, but in man alone does heat become light."

Here is a more concise way of saying the same thing: "The very word 'man' implies 'God,'" just as "the very word 'relative' implies 'Absolute.'”

Here it is from another angle: man "is intelligence; and intelligence -- in its principle and its plenitude -- is knowledge of the Absolute; the Absolute is the fundamental content of the intelligence and determines its nature and functions" (emphasis mine).

In other words, in the absence of the Absolute, then all of man's thoughts are just so many shadows that reveal nothing about reality.

The following goes to the absolute poverty (and we absolutely mean this literally, not polemically) of any form of evolutionism: "Once man makes of himself a measure, while refusing to be measured in turn, or once he makes definitions while refusing to be defined by what transcends him and gives him all his meaning, all human reference points disappear; cut off from the Divine, the human collapses" (Schuon, emphasis mine).

Which is again why, if the left doesn't make you want to vomit, there is something desperately wrong with you. To repeat, this is not at all polemical but objective. The left DESTROYS MAN because it first annihilates (in fantasy) the Absolute. Thus, the evolutionist or progressive does not transcend man, but rather, fails to ascend to him.

What is an antonym for transcend? You could say that the progressive evolutionist fails man, or loses man, or worsens man. And if you don't see that, just look to history, to all of the politico-ideological states that have been premised on the improvement of man: fascism, Nazism, communism, etc. When you deny man's infinite value up front, you have already excused yourself for the genocide that will surely follow, as night follows day.

One irony of Obama-style progressivism is that it violates its own spirit by pre-emptively attacking future generations. While the latter are supposed to be more evolved than us -- making us just an evolutionary stepping stone to them -- Obama is undermining them in such a way that it will be very difficult for them to overcome the financial catastrophe he is bequeathing them.

For they are the ones the low-information progressive herd is waiting for: the ones who will pick up the tab for Obama's drunken power spree. Obama has truly given these future subjects a bargain they can't refuse, since most of them aren't yet born. Long after Obama passes from the scene, these patsies will be financially obligated to him.

I was about to say that leftism is a Foistupon bargain between private bullies who want stuff and public bullies who want power. Or, as Don Colacho sez, To corrupt the individual it suffices to teach him to call his personal desires rights and the rights of others abuses. Thus, Obama makes no demands upon his envious flock, only upon the unborn who will foot the bill (for which reason you'd think he'd have a little respect for the unborn).

Yes, there is always a forgotten man in the bargain, or, in this case, forgotten generations, both past and future. What it really represents is man forgotten (as in the nature of man). And to forget this is to fall yet again.

Oh well, those future brains will be much more evolved than ours, just as we are more evolved than Aristotle, Aquinas, Madison, Washington, and Lincoln. They'll figure it out. I mean, just imagine a world full of Deepaks and Wilbers and Gores! What won't they be capable of, if not intellectually, then at least morally? When lawlessness disguises itself as law, anything is both possible and permissible. Right to the throat, good and hard.

You could say that for the reactionary, the past justifies anything; for the hedonist or psychopath, the present justifies anything; and for the leftist, the ideologue, or the evolutionist, the future justifies anything.

In contrast to these defective visions, our metaphysic begins with the principle that man is made in the image of the Absolute. Period. To imagine you can do better than this is to ensure hell on earth, or haven't you noticed?

Damn, that was supposed to be like one or two sentences. Oh well. To paraphrase John Lee Hooker's mama & papa, the boy's got it in him, and it got to come out somehow.

To say that man is made of intelligence, will and sentiment, means that he is made for the Truth, the Way, and Virtue. In other words: intelligence is made for comprehension of the True; will, for concentration on the Sovereign Good; and sentiment, for conformity to the True and the Good. --Schuon

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Mining for Nous Gold

No time for an all new post, so I've ransacked the knowa's arkive and pulled out these past meditations on the magician. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, has changed about ultimate reality since these nuggets were first excavated in 2008.

We eliminate the warm-up act, and join the post in mid-thought:

It will require a good couple of months to fully unwind MotT, but even then, riffing on one card every day or two does a disservice to us all -- you, me, and our Unknown Friend -- since it should be more of an organic and interior-directed process that proceeds at its own supernatural pace.

That is to say, one needs to "dwell" "in" (emphasis on both words) the book in order to actualize its pneumacatalytic powers. You must get into it in order for it to get into you, very much like the old onetwo of (↓↑). To paraphrase UF, the tarot images are like "enzymes" that facilitate growth when sprinkled over the sincere and open soul. You know, like the yeast in the bread.

I suppose I've read the book cover to cover maybe four or five times. I know this because I have two copies, each with different colored highlighting. And yet, each time I read it, I get something new out of it. I know this because new passages are highlighted on subsequent grow-rounds.

Also, as mentioned in a comment the other day, the first time I tried to tackle it, I got nowhere. It was just too difficult; turns out we were both too dense. And when I say "dense," I mean this in a kind of literal way, in that its light could not penetrate me. It was there, of course, but without a receptive agent to transmute it, it was just another brick in my wall of mostly ordinary books.

But by the time of my second attempt a year or two later, a transwarmation of some sort had taken place that allowed me to understand it -- or rather, melted whatever it was that was obscuring the light.

Indeed, it was like entering a vast cathedral, only this time with the lights on. In other worlds, without the Light, an infinite space will appear as a black wall, which is essentially the predicament in which the atheist finds himself. He imagines he's telling us about an objective barrier, when he's really just describing the back of his manmode I-lid. It's difficult to imagine a worldview more banal and lacking in elementary curiosity.

There is a reason that all spiritual traditions speak of "illumination." The visible light we see with our eyes is an analogue and symbol of the light we perceive with the intellect (and of which the intellect is composed, for light comes from Light).

In other words, the intelligibility of the world is and must be prior to its materiality. To be sure, the spiritual world is an intelligible world, but in order to perceive it, you will need to partake of the uncreated light of the awakened intellect, the nous (or, to paraphrase Joyce, the part so ptee that does duty for the holos).

Without activating the latter, you will again be staring at a blank wall (or you'll just have to take someone else's word for it). Jesus will just be a community organizer, if he existed at all. Miracles will merely be statistically rare events instead of edifying vertical ingressions. The Bible will be a collection of myths instead of simultaneously urgent and timeless memos of infinite depth from Soph to self, O --> (¶).

A couple of important points before we begin. The book is not about Tarot reading, nor does it have anything to do with the occult or new age. We're not just deepaking the chopra here.

Rather, the author, who is Catholic -- indeed, the afterword is by none other than Balthasar, and I've seen him name-checked by Ratzinger -- merely uses the twenty two major arcana of the Tarot as a basis for what we call spontaneous verticalisthenics, or theodidactic soul-jazz. It's almost as if he free associates and uses the cards as fixed forms, or unsaturated archetypes, to explore his own incredibly fertile spiritual imagination.

But his ideas are for the most part completely orthodox and intelligible to others, unlike, say, occultists, who may or may not speak truth, but clothe it in idiosyncratic and obscure ways that can be extremely difficult to decode, verify, or replicate. Our unknown friend always appeals to the universal intellect.

While earlier in life the author (who was born in 1900 and died in 1973) was a follower of Rudolf Steiner, he broke with that group and converted to Catholicism at the age of 44. In fact, he was booted from Steiner's Anthroposophical Society for being too independent of Steiner (who died in 1925).

As always, there is no doctrine more radical than Christianity, so it will always make ideologues, pneumalogues, and newage do-it-yoursophers uncomfortable. Anthroposophy is yet another instance of a spiritually gifted but erratic occultist whose fluid ideas are reified by his generally mediocre followers into an orthodoxy: the master ruins the disciples and vice versa.

Importantly, this is a dynamic that afflicts virtually all groups, as Bion recognized in some of his early papers. Indeed, it is precisely what had happened to Bion's own field of psychoanalysis, as Freud the explorer became Freud the inerrant prophet of a pseudo-religious infra-mystical order.

In relation to orthodoxy, Bion himself was analogous to the "messiah" (a term of art) or mystic who brings new life to the deadened forms, but only in order to return it to first principles. Similarly, Tea Partiers are aptly named, since they are simply re-animating the timeless principles of the Founders, principles that have been systematically undermined by the left.

Truth that isn't regularly rediscovered and lived is subject to entropy, just like everything else. To be perfectly accurate, it is not truth that dissipates, only the person who falls away from it. You might say that the space of the spiritual world, like the natural world, is curved, so without the rocket booster of effort, you'll merely go around in circles.

The author worked on MOTT in his 60s, and it was originally published posthumously in 1984 (in English in 1985). Although the identity of the author is known, he wished to remain anonymous, so we will respect his wishes and refer to him as Unknown Friend (UF), which is what he calls himself.

UF truly is our friend, and a precious one at that -- a trusty guidekick for any serious spiritual seeker from now until the end of time. And it is very much a "brotherly" relationship, despite his obvious spiritual eminence.

With regard to my post the other day about the person who was asking for spiritual guidance, UF is a fine example of how one may form a living relationship with a saint, sage, mystic or mentor, despite the person no longer being an active biological concern. The fact is, these persons are very much alive, but they will only come to life in the dynamic transitional space between you and them (or "I and I," as the ganjafarians say). But how is this different from any other deep friendship? Or just getting stoned?

It's about the living space. For example, we naturally love our family, but we also love the space it simultaneously creates and exists in. This can go unappreciated, but it is the background context of our whole life. It is the space in which we live and breathe. I suspect we'd feel rather hemmed in and oppressed without the yoke of this sphere & chain. Not all freedom is liberating, to put it mildly.

One thing we like about MOTT is its jazz sensibility, of which Bob has written in the past. To improvise means to stand up and play "over" the group. But to produce great jazz, one must simultaneously be a part of the group even while transcending it. This complementarity is the key, and I think it embodies a general lesson, almost a koan. That is, Man is the group animal whose very groupishness is the matrix out of which his individuality emerges.

To be an individual is to live on the surface of the group, so to speak, but with roots deep within it. A narcissist fails to appreciate the importance of the group in making the individual possible, as if he could exist without it. And yet, the collective could never be the "end" of our existence, as leftists believe. Which is why the left is such a graveyard of true individuality, an anonymous (in the negative, pre-personal sense) pack of dogmatic barketypes.

Yes, this is one of the first principles of our politics, since a libertarian overvalues the individual while the leftist insect naturally overvalues the hive. The cosmically correct position is to appreciate the family as the unit of civilization. Or, as in the Bible, maleandfemale he created them. When God says "let us create man in our image," this is what we's talking about: the unity within the plurality, and vice versa (and of course, baby makes threeness, and vice versa too).

I suppose it's somewhat analogous to the body/mind relationship. One cannot have a mind without a body, but to reduce the mind to the body is to do away with the person and our very reason for existence. Or again, one could say that this reflects the exoteric/esoteric, or inner/outer, complementarity of religion.

Anyway, we're just going to riff on UF's riffing, and see where it takes us.

But this is starting to get overly long, isn't it? Plus I'm late for work.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Flowgorrhea & Wordplay

We have arrived at Rule One: Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!

Tomberg says you can take it in several ways, so long as you take it seriously: clue, wise crack, advice, threat, etc. In any event, play is a very serious isness, fit only for amateurs (amo, of course, referring to the love that motivates the ama-teur).

The sentence may be broken down into three clauses, the first involving "effortless concentration." Tomberg provides a useful definition of the latter, which is "fixing the maximum attention on the minimum amount of space."

Imagine the concentration necessary to hit a little ball traveling at 100 mph. Or a wide receiver focusing on that ellipsoid flying object while knowing full well that he is going to endure great pain if he so much as touches it.

That sort of focussed attention "is the practical key to all success in every domain," and it is best accomplished by calmness and silence , or what we more or less symbolize (o) and (---).

(o) signifies a state of patient openness, while (---) is unhurried silence. These also happen to be the keys to allowing the softer voice of the right brain to speak, which is no coincidence, for the left brain is a loudmouthed know-it-all.

Just as not-knowing must precede knowing -- or emptiness fullness -- silence is anterior to (↓).

Tomberg then draws a critical distinction between interested and disinterested concentration. For example, it isn't difficult for most men to focus their attention on a Victoria's Secret catalogue. In a way, in order to practice disinterested concentration, we must liberate ourselves from the typical things that are always vying for our interested concentration.

This interested concentration arises from various planes of being, e.g., genetics, evolutionary psychology, mind parasites, cultural mimesis, cash and other valuable prizes, etc. As Tomberg says, gluttons and misers -- not to mention perverts and other activists -- are quite attentive to the objects of their interest, just as Obama has a laser-like focus on expanding state power and diminishing yours. He makes liberal fascism look so easy!

In fact a truly "liberal education" involves acquainting oneself with the entire domain of reality that exists outside necessity. Indeed, a key to happiness is doing things just for the hell of it -- i.e., for their intrinsic pleasure -- rather than for some identifiable payoff. Studies have even demonstrated that if you pay a person to do something he intrinsically enjoys, he will derive less enjoyment from it.

I found that last nugget in Charles Murray's In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government, which I'm reading for some reason, apparently because it relates to this post. He highlights the "paradox" that Americans are no happier today (and probably less happy) despite a historical increase in wealth over the past 50-60 years. What gives?

There are a number of reasons, but one is surely that the accumulation of wealth involves a great deal of interested concentration, when we've already established that a key to happiness and fulfillment is a lot of disinterested concentration, i.e., play. Murray points out that for most of western history we implicitly agreed upon an Aristotelian definition of happiness, whereas today we have one that is more Lockean.

The former revolves around the idea that we derive the most happiness from exercising our most fully realized capacities; in the book I discussed this in terms of realizing our potential, but the point is the same. We all have some sort of gift(s), and happiness very much involves using and developing the gift. Importantly, the rewards from doing so are intrinsic, unrelated to any secondary payoff.

This is what we call slacktivity, because it is the essence of higher nondoodling. It is a way of simultaneously doing nothing and something. You could also call it multi-slacking, which is what I am doing at the moment: several types of passionate nothing all in the same timelessness.

And no, that last crack wasn't just superfluous, because real slacktivity results in temporal dilation. That is to say, the present moment "widens out," so to speak, so the garment of the now isn't so tight and binding. More like one of those pirate shirts with the billowy sleeves.

Murray brings in a discussion of the unfortunately named flow -- unfortunate, because the word makes it sound like something Deepak might have come up with, instead of being a serious concept. It was coined by a man with the unflowing name of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, but his initial term sounded more serious: autotelic, meaning "self end," or an end that is both by and for the Self (not "ego," I might add).

Consider Murray's description of flow: it is action joined to awareness, such that "you know exactly what you're doing, but you are not thinking about the fact that you know." Like me right now. One thing I never do while blogging is look down, because if I do, I'll lose my balance and fall from the ground.

You could say that we are in flow when we are concentrating without effort, turning work into play, and multi-slacking. And flow has no purpose but to just keep flowin'. Which reminds me of Eckhart's notion of "living without a why."

I believe it is fair to say that Professor Cz%$^*&@yli's idea of flow, when applied to the spiritual dimension, illuminates what we call the "divine spiral" of (↓↑), as we are effortlessly pulled into the Great Attractor.

Now rhea means flow, and this pointless logorrhea must now cease its flow for the day.

Monday, February 04, 2013

I Don't See Any Method At All, Sir

Continuing with Friday's post -- we're discussing Letter I of Meditations on the Tarot -- Tomberg points out that in order to become fertile, two things are necessary, one positive, the other negative.

First we must become receptive, or "poor in spirit." Secondly we must avoid what he calls "the most serious spiritual malady," self-complacency.

This latter pneumapathology falls under the rubric of acedia, which has no direct translation but means something like "spiritual laziness." Thus, Tomberg is affirming an orthoparadox here, to the effect that we must be simultaneously active and passive, or one might even say male and female (in the metacosmic sense). Obviously conception -- and the Second Birth -- can only occur with male and female.

This Second Birth has resonance with metanoia (the cosmic turnaround), except that the latter is more "effort based," so to speak. Tomberg refers to "a change of the entire spiritual and psychic motivation," which is obviously more active and related to the will.

However, this willed turnaround is associated with "a complete change of the plane of consciousness," which mere will could never bring about on its own. I would say that the will is necessary but not sufficient. Rather, something else must meet it halfway. The mystery and the mirrorcle is that someone actually does!

This naturally segues into a discussion of what we can do from our end, and what we could never accomplice in the absence of grace. There is no such thing as a do-it-yoursopher, no lifting ourselves by our own buddhastraps. Thus "it goes without saying that nobody initiates anyone else." Rather, the initiation "is operative from above" because "the Initiator is above."

Now, any initiate, to the extent that he is a true initiate, recognizes this simple Law, and this recognition is the very substance of humility (and of the spiritual emptiness alluded to above). A Raccoon, of course, instantaneously recognizes the soul-stench of a fellow Raccoon, but it would never occur to us to suggest that one is the master, the other a disciple. Rather, "there is only one sole Master, who is the Initiator above."

I remember Schuon telling a correspondent something almost identical -- that he would agree to take him on as a student so long as he remembered that Christ is his Master, not Schuon. There is a dangerous temptation at work here for both parties, and it almost defines the newage.

Think of the luminous archetype of John the Baptist, who is obviously a vertical initiate but who humbly insists up front that There comes One after me who is mightier than I.

Compare this with the bloomin' ass darktype of a Deepak, who dumbly boasts -- without irony -- of being one of Time Magazine's "top 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century"; and who, just moments ago, tweeted that "You create the universe in every act of perception," once again proving that cosmic narcissism is as cosmic narcissism does.

Why would state-run media elevate this wicked man to virtual sainthood? The question answers itself. He's like a one man war on spiritual poverty.

So: "Amongst Christian Hermeticists nobody assumes for himself the title and the function of 'initiator' or 'master,'" not even Toots Mondello himself. Rather, everyone learns from everyone, because "each is a master of each in some respect -- just as each is a pupil of each in some respect."

It's not about the master-pupil dialectic, but rather, simply about the circulation and flow of grace, bearing in mind what we said a few posts back about the (↓→) wondercurrent of grace.

I believe that all Raccoons can recognize "quality" in a human being. Yes, a man is a man is a man -- and sometimes even worse -- but there are some men who properly evoke a sense of reverence (not worship) in us. Or, we might say that the proper response to such a lumin being is reverence. This reverence creates a kind of dynamic tension that goes to what was said above about the relationship between effort and spiritual emptiness.

Tomberg makes reference to St. Gregory the Great, who, despite -- or because! -- of his greatness, "subjected himself in all sincerity to the pious men whom he visited and made it his endeavor to learn for his own benefit just how each was superior to him in zeal and ascetic practice." He would then assimilate in himself "what he had obtained from each and devoted his energies to realizing in himself the virtues of all."

Again, it all starts with recognition of spiritual quality, or what I call recognosis (i.e., vertical thou & I sight). This recognosis can never be reduced to some objective standard. Rather, it can only become spontaneously present on an interior level, and it is very important that one follow this "instinct."

It very much reminds me of what Mouravieff says about identifying and cultivating "B" influences (apparently discussed in these previous posts).

Tomberg then goes into an illuminating discussion of head and heart as applied to religion. "Hermeticism," he says, attempts to listen to and hear "the beating of the heart of the spiritual life of humanity." This very much relates to our recent series of posts on right and left brain differences, the former being more oriented to "hearing" in the spiritual sense.

You could say that the exterior church hierarchy is more of a left brain construct, more in the head than heart (and Tomberg is at pains to emphasize that this is by no means to minimize its importance).

But the heart is much more fluid, more interior, more "blowing where it will," so to speak. Therefore, it is spontaneously drawn to and attracted by "the mystery of the communal heart which beats within all religions, all philosophies, all arts and all sciences -- past, present and future." This is because it is oriented to O itself, in whose attractor field all those modes -- truth, wisdom, beauty -- come into view.

Looked at in this manner, almost everything is a theophany and an occasion for inwardness. Put another way, every out has an in and is even the manifestation of a hidden in. We might also say that the In is the Is, or the essence, while the Out is the existence or appearance. Everything is whispering secrets of God all the time! We call it the Gossipel of Nature.

Tomberg then moves on to a description of the first arcana, the Magician (and I would be curious to know how many of the elements are present in all these different versions).

But the bottom line of the card is the First Principle that undergirds all the others, and speaks to the rapport of personal effort and of spiritual reality -- or let us say of (↑) and O. It is not about doctrine as such, but rather, about method. And this method is as follows:

Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!

What, work at giving up? Thanks for the tip!

One thing is for sure: if you're going to successfully transform work into play, you're really going to need to get off the hedonic treadmill and reduce your overhead, because a simulated life is quite expensive.

To be continued...

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