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 

To Be Present

Every event in our lives is a gift that we will some day unwrap and appreciate. The very being of the moment, the ceaseless flow of conscious experience within which this life-world is given, is the primordial revelation of the One; we only take it for granted, as if it were our own consciousness; little do we realize that we too, along with the world, are known in and through consciousness which is always transcendent to all subsequent knowledge, including our self-knowledge.

There is only one unquestionable, brute fact that defines life and world: Impermanence. Our sciences, religions, philosophies, our state of knowledge and technology, all change; they have no absolute reign. But impermanence is the very nature of phenomena. What is ironic of human existence is that we accept and entertain all kinds of fiction with no trouble at all but we have not been able to accept and cope with this one brute fact. All the pain and suffering comes from our tantrums in the face of the inevitable, the impermanence of all things. So much for man as the rational animal!

When we judge a situation we are viewing it from our particular state of mind at the moment of judgment. Whether things are good or bad depends on our values at that moment. What we judge now as the worst mistake of our life may in a few years turn out to be the best gift of life, and then again the worst mistake when we judge it after a decade. If we are rational and reasonable animals, then we must see that judgment is the most futile epiphenomenon in nature. An act propagates endlessly into the inaccessible future; it has no end result, and hence no intrinsic value expect against the background of our our values and expectations.

One may object and bring the example of murder. But we ought to be objective and detached from our passions: A man who hates murder is more likely to commit murder when what he loves is destroyed. If we do not like murder here in America it is because we forget our democracy is founded upon the genocide of Native Americans, and this is for all great empires that ended up creating great men and women in history who transformed the masses. It would be a good research project for us to investigate and see how many people are being killed in poor countries for us to enjoy the little things of our everyday lives in developed countries!

And how about the murder of animals; it is perfectly justified as long as we like meat, though we prefer others do the murder for us. Thus, every single one of us is in one or another, directly or indirectly, involved in and benefiting from, whether physically or spiritually, some murder somewhere in history. But so far it was only the physical murder that concerned us, since we believe only in the physical reality; but there is more: On a daily basis we murder dreams, crush human spirits, and commit murder against ourselves by food and medication.

The pain and suffering will continue as long as our individual interests and benefits come before our objective intelligence which is really our consciousness of impermanence and the source of humility. This is so because the inevitable part of life, the impermanence, constantly gives and takes away, and hence constantly puts our egos under stress and strain. Insofar as we identify with the ego which is the inertia of the mind we won’t be able to face the inevitable and at once enjoy it. Ego is the cancer of the soul, and only divine radiation can eliminate it.

The good is Him; the bad is Him

The pleasure is Him; the pain is Him

In pain and pleasure, in hell and heaven, I am always with Him

If you have come to take Him away then take Him away, for this too is Him

He is the here and the away

He is both the Being and the Non-Being

It is not that we are made to suffer: Suffering is there in the world as the blue of the sky is there in the world; we feel the suffering only because we identity with it, thinking that it is ours. Both pain and suffering arise from our attachment to phenomena: Pleasure comes when our attachments are present and safe; pain comes when our attachments are being taken away. But attachment to and identification with the impermanent is suicide, for there is no pain without pleasure and no pleasure without pain. Suffering comes to an end only when we all learn to prefer peace to pleasure, unity to individuality, Oneness to mine-ness, God to ego.

What we must learn, and what spiritual traditions speak of, is precisely the art of facing the inevitable and undergoing impermanence. What is the original sin but lack of patience, and what is lack of patience but the reign of the ego, the snake of the Eden? If an object falls due to its mass, man falls due to its ego. The Fall is not so much the fall from heaven which is the eternal present given by the One. Our fall, the real fall, consists in our forgetfulness of still being in heaven and in His presence.

The existential angst of modern man, which is the vertigo of this apparent fall, comes from resistance against the inevitable. The return to the One, that is accepting the impermanence, is in the heart’s act of embracing Its present to us, and Its present which is Its presence is none other than the present, the now, which is indeed the primordial present. Thus, to be with the One is to be fully in the present, that is to be perfectly committed nihilists. It is often the case that our seeking the One makes us farther away from Him.

Meister Eckhart, a 13th century Christian mystic and theologian, says:

“A man must become truly poor and as free from his own creaturely will as he was when he was born. And I tell you, by the eternal truth, that so long as you desire to fulfill the will of God and have any hankering after eternity and God, for just so long you are not truly poor. He alone has true spiritual poverty who wills nothing, knows nothing, and desires nothing.” 

The Zen Master Nan-Sen says:

“Do not strive to seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.”

The Sufi Master Bayazid Bastami says:

“Knowledge of truth cannot be attained by seeking; but it is found only by those who seek it.”

To seek God in heaven, in church or mosque, in the saint and the prophet, is like seeking a picture of him who is always already present with us. To be with the One is to stop looking for Him and seeing Him in the very Being of everything in and around us.