But first, thank you for all those kind komments. I hadn't planned on a living eulogy, just the announcement of a brief break and an open thread to go along with it. The reference to "ten years of service" was just tossed out there, but became the focus.
Which is fine. I know that every year on his birthday, Dennis Prager invites guests to call in and let him know how he has changed their lives. It's a profound and touching ritual, and it helps both parties in different ways. For Prager, he says he always takes praise to heart and criticism to the head, where most people presumably do it the other way around.
I'd like to believe I'm the same way. There's just no way those flattering comments could go to my head, for reasons mentioned in one of my comments: if they did, it wouldn't be an occasion for narcissistic inflation, but rather, black despair. If I am IT, then we, my fiends, are as deluded as any Obama voter. I don't know how these new age teachers such as Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra or fill-in-the-blank can live with their depraved selves. Probably by projecting it into conservatives.
No, my self esteem just isn't that high, and I promise that there's nothing you folks can do about it. Besides, if self esteem is what I were after, wouldn't I write a bunch of useless books for the mediocretin masses or get myself published in the International Journal of Tenured Hackery?
On the other hand, to the extent that the blog is truly "efficacious" -- meaning that it does apparently lead to genuine change in people's lives -- then that is Something to be looked or even sneezed at. What's going on there? I have to believe it begins with me, because that is precisely where I begin: my first operating principle, as it were, is to get me out of the way. In fact, it's really spelled out in the book, isn't it?
For example, we begin (or end) by positing the existence of O -- which is necessarily many things, such as the Organized Totality. I believe that by selflessly orienting ourselves to it, we set up a kind of vertical exchange of energies which we symbolize (⇅). When I first came up with that idea, I imagined I was being a little daring or esoteric or avant garde, but I've come to realize that I'm just being as literal and mundane as can be.
For example, a reader this morning posed the following question for Catholic anti-Bob whisperers: "how does one reconcile the esoterist perspective on religion with the exoteric religion that is largely intolerant of any heresy? I mean Schuon is clearly a heretic (Bob likely is too) according church teaching. It seems to me that believing special revelation exists outside the church isn't compatible with being a legit Catholic."
What I am suggesting is that there is nothing "special" about this verticalisthenic exercise, nor are we talking about Revelation, and certainly no revelation that deviates from Tradition. Catholicism is a rather large tent, in fact, the largest tent I have thus far encountered on this earth.
I mean, Meister Eckhart? Yes, he ran into a couple of bumpkins in the road during the Inquisition, but he was never excommunicated, and he is as Far Out as you can get without burning down the tent. I've been meaning to do a Meister Eckhart Review and Update. Soon.
First of all, this haiku-ized statement by Thomas could be our motto:
our task is to hand
onto others the things gained
It goes like this: 1) (↑), 2) (o), 3) (↓), 4) (→). In fact, you could say that your Lavish Praise is (←). And I know and you know that (←) is a meager thing unless it is preceded by your own (↑) and (↓). I am just the middleman. You're welcome.
About the charge of esoterism. Well, yes and no. No because I don't believe I contradict Tradition, Yes because one can hardly get more esoteric than Christianity itself.
Take the circular structure of One Cosmos, the prequel. Pretty modernist and avant garde, right?
"The wisdom found in revelation and the wisdom that is the gift of the Holy Spirit go beyond any wisdom we can acquire by our own thinking -- they are what Thomas calls 'supernatural gifts.' They come from God [↓] and are integral in our return to God [↑]..."
This is the Circle to which the book -- and blog -- conforms: "For Thomas there is a cycle of wisdom, a circular process of emanation and return to God, following the order of the circular model of the creation and return of the universe."
Yes, that is pretty esoteric but that is also the Doctor of the Church talking, so no, you can't buy some pot from him.
You might even notice that I yoinked a bizarre statement by Thomas and placed it above the comment box below:
The circle among figures and circular motion among all the forms of movement are the most perfect, because there is a return to the source in them. For this reason in order that the whole of creation attains its final perfection, it is necessary for creatures to return to their source.
Nor is it remotely Gnostic to say that the Great Return is a return to Nothing.
First of all, that is made plain by Eckhart's crack on p. 6, the Page of Darkness: There is something in the soul which is above the soul, divine, simple, an absolute nothing, rather unnamed than named, unknown than known, etc.
To borrow a gag from this other book, we're not talking about some vague and vacuous existentialist nothing in general, but rather, the divine and slacuous nothing in particular.
Not much time this morning. Back to vertical play but back to horizontal toil as well.