Washed Onto the Shore

I have not posted anything in a long time; today I checked my blog for the first time in weeks and though I still don’t have much to say, I pushed the “write” button to face the blank page of a draft, perhaps the most courageous act I have done in a while.

Prior to this two-year seemingly dry period I was spiritually active, I read a lot and reflected a lot on spiritual matters; and so naturally I had a lot to say and write. For the past two years, however, I was held down by my own humanity, or by that impulse of human constitution which goes against the spiritual impulse to ascend; I moved against my natural instinct to free myself; I became my own shackles.

I descended to the depths, to where no ray of light could reach, to where corruption ruled, to a city in which degeneration was accepted as exciting the norm. I sat so much with the monsters of this underworld that I became one, and I saw that I was one from eternity.

I passed by beautiful mermaids, drank their wine, and laughed out-loud to my heart’s content; little did I know that what I heard as laughter was the cry of the suffocating spirit. I took with me a land creature to live among the fish.

But let what happened in the sea stay in the sea. I forgot my way back to the surface so I was washed onto the shore in an unconscious state and woke up later by the piercing force of sunlight on my skin. “Oh my Sun,” I yelled “had you forsaken me!”

Was my frightening visit to the underworld a dream of a man falling asleep on the beach? Was it a experimental course in human possibilities? Was it a tour and a lesson initiated by the eternal guide, or was a it detour in the Path because there’s roadwork in my life!? I will never know, but I know what I saw:

We do not become sinners and monsters, nor do we become saints and heroes; we are at once all of it. Which of our faces is seen depends on the mirror into which we stare; what we manifest from this infinitely wide range of possibilities depends on the habitat and the company, on people, places, and things to which we cling. I am that majestic brilliance that shines the color of whatever object lies next to it.

Man contains within itself all the possibilities of good and evil. A man or a woman is at once a potential saint and a potential sinner, at once a monster and a hero fighting the monster. The battle is always between the opposing poles of one and the same Person. Life begins with a broken polarity and comes to its conclusion with a return to perfect balance.

This strange creature that I am contains all the opposites within itself waiting to manifest one or the others. I am a man of a thousand faces, and this world is a mirror I face every morning. And every night when I return to the primordial balance of dreamless sleep, all the opposites within me cancel each other out, and hence the world vanishes. Everyday, nonduality breaks into duality, and duality returns into nonduality. This world, a stage for the dance of strife, appears only when Sakina (the Great Peace) shatters.

And this man, this finite vessel of infinity itself, is in its essence the coincidence of all opposites. Rumi, the Persian saint and poet, defines God as the “coincidence of all opposites,” but he also says that man in his deepest essence is identical with with the divine.

What all this teaches me is vigilance, for although I may be divine by nature, still monsters live in me, monsters that can be released, monsters whose sight scare the shit out of me regardless of whether I am dreaming or not.

Deliverance From The Middle Class

What is human life but a journey from relative anonymity to absolute anonymity?!

This journey, however, takes place according to the nature of things. It is the path of the initiate, the way toward the Principle. It is perhaps also similar, in idea, to the 2nd law of thermodynamics stating that nature tends toward equal distribution of its resources among all its possibilities which makes nature a perfect communist. From the purely physical point of view this movement is toward chaos, but from a metaphysical point of view this movement is toward the Supreme Principle, the end being the complete reintegration of the manifestation in the principle. The physical order being the reflection of the metaphysical order, and since all reflections obey the principle of inversion, it is no surprise that what we perceive as chaos in the physical order corresponds to the return to the principal state in the metaphysical order.

The irony is that the life of the middle class, those occupiers of ordinary life and entertainers of mediocre ideals, is a struggle precisely in the opposite direction and contrary to the natural order: It is a struggle, and not a journey, from relative anonymity to maximum distinction, a struggle that remains forever futile for reasons of principle. Hence, the individual of this class, who is eventually meant to break the bonds of individuality, remains always in relative anonymity, i.e. in the relative order of things which pertains to the plane of existence. In other words, a struggle to become distinct, to become something as opposed to something else, is a struggle against a natural current that takes all beings toward Deliverance. We must add that salvation still belongs to states of being prior to Deliverance since a desire for salvation is the individual’s desire to be saved and yet remain that individual; in the absence of a desire for keeping one’s individuality being saved has no place and meaning anymore. Hence, salvation is a possible state of the ego while Deliverance is precisely deliverance from the ego as such and altogether. While salvation is a possibility within the individual order, Deliverance is a passage to the supra-individual order.

Body being the most limited and conditioned aspect of the individual is the inverse reflection of the spirit which is the unconditioned source, of course not of the individual, for the spirit already belongs to the supra-individual order if not identical with it. What lies in between, the psyche, is the dwelling place of the middle class and its aspirations which under its substantial inertia lends itself freely to rationalism which we consider to be the “opium of the people.”

In the ternary Spirit-Soul-Body, the soul or psychological aspect of the individual order corresponds to the middle element of the social order, its middle class, since in both cases we are dealing with the seat of opinion and dogma. Middle class plays the same role in the constitution of social order as the psyche does in individual order: It is the opinionated portion of society, for it is on the one hand obsessed with the prestige of being “cultured,” and on the other hand its attachment to ordinary life and mediocre ideals makes it incapable of direct pursuit of truths due to the degree of sacrifice and objectivity required for such a task. Thus, the reality and worldview of the middle class is always dogmatic, for it is an acquisition merely through passive education and media, books and papers, etc. There is no intuition involved in any of its acquisitions, much less an intellectual intuition. This class is also the control valve of the whole society, for it is their opinion that is used as “public opinion” and fashion, whether as its pseudo-intellectual circles such as academia or still lower manifestations such as malls, etc. a public opinion that is deliberately and easily manipulated through media for the simple reason that the opinions of the middle class are, and have always been, those of the media and the governing class, though they are constantly fed from above with the illusion that they actively and consciously acquired their ideas and ideals.

We may quote Rene Guenon here where he says, “The concept of profane culture is indeed very characteristic of the mentality of this middle class, to which, by its wholly superficial and illusory brilliance, it gives the means of concealing its true intellectual nullity, and this same class is also that which enjoys invoking ‘custom’ in every circumstance.” Which is a reference to the primary function of this class as the seat of opinion and fashionability within the social order.

World is the shadow of God

This world is the shadow of God; it is not a thing, not an existent entity; rather, it is the lack of a thing, lack of light, as are all shadows.

Our relation to the absolute principle is paradoxical from the point of view of our mundane intelligence: First, there is nothing but God; but then, we are separated from Him! How can this be?!

Well, paradox and contradiction did not keep physicists to develop quantum physics which is a very successful science though it will always appear paradoxical to our mind. What seems paradoxical in one level of reality resolves itself into unity in a higher level of reality. God is paradox-free.

How can a shadow understand the object of which it is a shadow?!

We ask: If God is everything, then how can we be separated from Him? Well, from the point of view of God, a contradiction in terms since God is absolute and owns all points of views at once, there is no such thing as separation; even our existence is only a pure possibility for God and never a concrete reality, much similar to the way dream characters are real relative to one another but only subconscious possibilities relative to the dreamer.

God is everything and yet we are separated from Him! But this is not really a paradox since the two situations cannot be realized simultaneously: The second condition follows if and only if the first condition is not fully satisfied, or realized if you will. We feel separated from God as long as we don’t truly believe that He is everything; but once we have realized that God is everything, then we won’t feel any separation; our separation too is nothing but God himself appearing as void.

Our feeling of separation is not a result of God’s absence but an adverse effect of an acute case of forgetfulness: The Fall is nothing but a fall into forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is the original sin; salvation and return to His bosom is a possibility always in the here and now, something immediately realized once we realize He is all that there is, that I am Him, my thoughts and feelings, my pain and suffering, my hopes and worries, my joy and happiness, are all Him and nothing but Him. Then we cease to fight, for any fight would be a fight with Him, a fight with our own being. True surrender is the most intelligent decision we can ever make.

A concise way of articulating our relationship with God is this:

My being is God’s knowing 

The Story of Creation

The story of creation is pretty simple if we don’t get caught up in the literal meaning of words. Here it is:

God created man. Later He saw that the product is defective: Man forgets. God then announced a factory recall; we know it as revelation. The decision on our part is either to choose to return to him or not. Of course the decision, if made in the positive, is not a one time thing; we must renew it constantly or else we tend to forget, which is the very reason behind the recall. In other words, our return to the factory is done through the constant remembrance of God. Salvation is really the getting back into the factory. When we get there we are already cured, for the treatment wasn’t so much in the factory as it was on the Way consisting of remembrance. Since we are cured, we remember what we had forgotten: We remember that we had never left the factory, that we were never defective, that we had never left Him to begin with, that the story of creation was our own story made up to fill in the place of the forgotten truth, that we never left the origin. Not that we are God; He is but we are not. It is this Truth that cannot be spoken.

The Grace to Embrace

We must remind ourselves, those of us practicing religion as a means of salvation rather than welfare, that the spiritual life, the life of God, is about God and not us. That we complain so often of our imperfections and the subsequent suffering is a misunderstanding of religion. Perhaps we think that spiritual life is about having a good time, that a good spiritual life is a life of mental and emotional security and perfect devotion. In the face of the slightest suffering we blame ourselves of spiritual failure as if perfection, spiritual or otherwise, was a human possibility!
It is a bad habit of our times, more so in the western hemisphere, that we should think everything is about us and how we feel, that anything that disturbs the emotions has an evil origin unless one sees the visible hand of God. We have a hard time accepting, let alone trusting, that whether we are in suffering or not God is working within and without. We feel that we must know his every move or else we lose faith and find ourselves in despair, as if He owes us an explanation on top of the possibility of salvation offered by grace, as if God has a “Buy one get one for free” business!
We cannot trust in the invisible, thanks to our faulty culture and education; so instead of raising ourselves to God we bring Him down to our own mundane level which is no more Him but a projection of our own desires in one form or another. Our complaint over lack of spiritual perfection is the most destructive of all spiritual imperfections, for it indicates that we pursue the path so to feel good about ourselves; above all it indicates our lack of faith and trust in Him.
The best violins in the world were at once a seemingly useless pieces of wood. That wood has become the masterpiece that it is because it gave itself totally to the hands of a master who chopped and hammered it for thousands of hours. The best architect chooses the material that shows the highest degree of conformity to both the means and the final end of perfection.
Whenever we come to such moments of suffering, the dark nights of the soul, we must think ourselves, if we seek God rather than the self, as deformed souls under the hammer of God who is cutting away our imperfections. And by no means should we think or expect that we are on the way of becoming perfect beings in the face of God, for our perfection is in our non-being before Him: Our salvation is nothing but our annihilation in God.
We must ask of God nothing for ourselves except more consciousness of Himself. And we must remember that each blow of His hammer is a chance of becoming more conscious of Him. God’s hammer is the grace to embrace.

Truth & Intelligence

There are two classes of species when it comes to intelligence:

The first class are the extremists who are of two types: There are those who never question the world, and there are those who never question their intelligence. Religious fanatics are of the first type. Ideological fanatics such as Richard Dawkins and the atheists, and the rest of the animal kingdom are of the second type; they suffer the worst kind of ignorance according to Socrates because they are hopelessly blind to the possibility that they do not know. These evolve only in the physical plane but remain stoned in the department of intelligence.

Evolution proper applies to the second of species, the superior ones, which are again of two types: Those who question both the world and their intelligence without constantly ejaculating judgments all over the rest, and those who trust both the world and their intelligence, hence leaving it to Him to lift them up; and they shall be lifted up. These two types are destined for evolution in the true sense of the world, that is the vertical evolution which takes them from earth to heaven rather than merely from birth to death.

The difference between the two classes lies not in the object of their belief; the religious seeker who has beliefs and the honest agnostic who avoids all beliefs are equally close to The Center though one calls that center God and the other has no name for it.

What distinguishes between the two classes of species is their inclination toward judgment. The inferior type, being essentially insecure because they believe in nothing greater than themselves, are those inclined towards judgment; they are egocentric and inferior precisely because they assume the position of God, the Ground of Being, The Abyss, The Nameless, you name it.

The second class knows it is not for him to judge, that reality is determined from above and not by him or her. The second class is always a truth-seeker while the first is only a self-seeker, the judge; the former can transcend itself while the latter cannot even pass a kidney stone. The superior kind knows that “to know is to be able to learn” while the inferior kind thinks he knows because he is done learning. The higher species is humble, loving, and intelligent; the lower one is rude, arrogant, and stupid.

And when it comes to destiny of our higher and lower classes, the truth-centered species merges and converges to The Center while the self-centered diverges and submerges in oblivion.

Intelligence is not the capacity to pile up information and carry around a bagful of opinions. To be intelligent is to be able to be and remain open to fact and experience as they present themselves, that is to say to be objective pure and simple. The simple peasant of yesterday was much more intelligent and objective than the complicated scholar of today, though the scholar has managed to change the meaning of intelligence and objectivity to suit his egocentric ends without being noticed by the consciousness of the mass.

The common misunderstanding is that religion is only a matter of faith and opinion and unquestioned devotion. Religion is first and foremost a matter of intelligence; it is founded upon Pure Intellect and demands the same thing from the serious seeker. Faith and devotion are only the protective layers of truth, the sources of divine perfume, the means to an intuitive end. But the string that is holding man during his fall is after all the intellect, the Axis Mundi.

Intelligence is the divine spark in man, whether we understand by divinity a personal God or the impersonal principle underlying the universal manifestation. To see Satchidananda, the divine hand, in all beings is only a seeing of and by the intelligence. It is the intellect that sees and directs the operations of reason which belongs to the lower sphere. The faith of the true devotee arises from his/her intelligence; it is a faith rooted in trust and intuition, unlike the whorified idolaters of scientism and atheism who are in blind faith, or bad faith as Sartre puts it, and whose objects of worship are nothing but the non-intuitive abstractions of the true scientist who stays out of publicity and is himself only after truth, however misguided.

Thus, the salvation of mankind is a function of his objectivity which is the essence of intelligence. The more objective we are, the closer we become to The Center. Objectivity is the sole virtue that guides all other virtues, and especially those stated or implied in the scriptures:

What is humility but objectivity toward oneself, seeing oneself like we see everyone else.

What is charity but objectivity toward the other, seeing him/her as oneself.

What is love of the neighbor but objectivity toward manifestation as such, understanding that the neighbor is a concept encompassing all beings, including ourselves as God’s neighbors. Without this objectivity one cannot love without destroying, for love without objectivity will make either a master or a slave.

The Real Fall

Adam and Eve took a bite from the tree…, and hence The Fall.

Did they fall out? Fall in? Fall through? Fall short? Or Fallujah?

No. They did fall: They fell asleep, dreaming of transgression and expulsion, of life and death, of losing that which cannot be lost. God is tearing his throat to wake us up; but alas, the apple has a long half-life.

My dear Adam and Madam, you are still in the Garden of Eden. Can’t you smell the fragrance from the tree of life?!

The original sin is the forgetfulness of one’s original blessedness