Thursday, August 11, 2016

Scratch Pad

The Buddha would have to say there is no abiding truth, reality, and yes, our very Soul. Consider! Please! The Real, the Truth, owe their existence to our belief (in them).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

More on R. G. Collingwood

Collingwood says that knowledge is achieved by a dialectical process of question and answer.  Question and answer, he further says, corresponds to imagination and assertion.  He points out that these moments in dialectic, moments of imagination and of assertion, are ideal divisions and that they are really, if properly understood, indistinct in that each presupposes the other.

Art is not a judgement or assertion of the truth of the world, he says.  The aesthetic experience, or art, is therefore unaware of itself as knowledge because it is unaware of the ideal division that can be made in knowledge, i.e. between the moments of imagining and assertion.  Without this distinction art is pure imagination says Collingwood, and pure imagination is not a perfect expression of the Truth, though it does not miss completely.

In religion the imaginings of art are asserted.  Therefore religion is a dialectical development of art.  However religion does not distinguish between its assertion, which is embodied in symbol, i.e., God is the religious for absolute Reality, and what the symbol symbolizes.  The symbol, to religion IS what it conveys.  It is the Real, says Collingwood.  Because this distinction is not made religion is mythological.  When the distinction is made religion looses its mythological character; but it also ceases to be religious and becomes philosophical.  Why is this, according to Collingwood?

Religion is thought constantly going toward an object that is other than the thinker*;  God is other than man or he is not God.  When thought recognizes that the symbol of the Truth is not the Truth, but A way to the Truth, the Real, then the Real, as the object of thought, ceases to be other than the thinker.  So Collingwood says that philosophical thought is thought returning to itself.  To say, then, that God is only a symbol of the absolute is to reduce him to the level of all symbols, while, at the same time, it is to boost religion to the level of philosophy.

In my own thinking I agree with most of what Collingwood says.  The truth, the Real, being that by virtue of which all things are, is necessarily not fully exhausted by one symbol, i.e., God.  So religion is mythological.  Truth is embodied, rather, in every possible concept or symbol, which is precisely why philosophy can speak of it in so many different ways.  (e.g. the "divided line" of Plato; the "One" of Parmenides, etc.)  If a religious person comes to realize, then, the distinction between God as symbol and God as the Real, he is moving into the realm of philosophy where the Real is spoken of in perhaps as many ways as it manifests. It is a quality not a quantify. Many manifestations might participate in 'red' besides a blessed Rose.

If I approach someone, a mystic, say, and ask what is Truth?, he will, perhaps, give me many answers, all of which are true; he may even keep silent.  And if I understand the Truth, I understand.  But I understand just a little more than what he says, too.  That is, I understand that thing which he is talking about, the meaning behind the words, the meaning as separate from the symbols. His sayings are a new beginning.

*As stated previously in this blog Science and History are likewise dialectical developments of art and religion. As Kierkegaard would have it they are Stages on Life's Way. For Collingwood they are thought constantly going toward an object that is other than the thinker. Science will ultimately give us a 'grand unifying theory'; History will ultimately culminate in a cultural utopia; Religion will finally take us to heaven - all are absolute others.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ethics, Nirvana & Sundry Items

Professor Desani delivered a talk in old Bombay in the late 1960s titled Ethics, Nirvana, and Sundry Items.  Todd Katz has today edited and published (.pdf) this here.  It is the item at the top of the list of other "samples".
Some excerpts:
 "These things by themselves do not lead us to the ideal. They help us approach the ideal. A person who keeps his conduct Good – as defined so far – is the one who qualifies. It is quite in order to ask what it is for which one should qualify.
"To know this, to experience to attain excellence, freedom, mukti, Nirvana. But to attain it, one needs bala or balāni; power, or powers.
     "You need to have in your favor, prārabdha; a fate, a destiny, a beginning in the past. To be possessed of a good ‘past’ is a bala (a power). By ‘past’ is meant the infinite or a ‘history’ of a Consciousness. An individual born with an enormous bank balance, any prince or princess of a ruling house, with a few or no obligations or responsibilities, has to his or her credit a ‘past’. An individual born with an infirmity, an incurable disease, robbing him of the freedom of action, has a ‘past’. Both he, and an individual born with gifts, experience the advantages, and the disadvantages, of their situations, and regardless of their Will. Faith is a bala. A person without faith is the one who has his palm formed into a fist. You cannot give him anything. He cannot receive it. If a person exerts, practices, he has bala, or power. If a person has samādhi – he has concentration of mind, has calmness, as opposed to the restlessness of Lobha [that] I mentioned, he has real bala, power."
"Methods vary. Some look at and contemplate an image – a pratimā. Some visualize – ‘see’ mentally, direct attention to – a thought, a notion, a concept, a quality. (To contemplate one’s God as supreme, as good, as true, as merciful, as just, as love, as wisdom, is to contemplate the qualities of supremacy or power, goodness, truth, mercy, justice, love and wisdom. To venerate in a contemplation Gautama, the Buddha, or any other Buddha, as omniscient, as enlightened, as virtuous, free from Lobha, Dosa, Moha – regardless of its value as a prayer or a communication – would be a contemplation of his qualities.) It does not matter what means are employed so long as those lead to success in controlling that operation of Consciousness called ‘attention’. The Buddha recommends that we contemplate maître – lovingkindness for all beings whatsoever, human, infra-human, supra-human; and karunā – compassion for all beings, the good, the evil, all; muditā – altruistic joy in the happiness of all; upeksha – equanimity, the quality that enables us to accept, with calmness, and dignity, both joy and sorrow. The contemplation of these – with method and technique – can lead us to high samādhi, to the bala, power, of a concentrated mind. And to develop these qualities, as character traits, is as high an ethical aim as one can conceive."
      " is possible, citing an experience, just to ‘see’ a tree. It is possible, by controlling the mind, by freeing it, freeing it of all concepts – through the techniques the Buddha has taught us, by developing Sati and Samādhi – to ‘barely’ ‘see’ a tree, for a millionth-millionth part of a second. And to declare that it does not exist: or to say – from lacking the means to communicate exactly an experience – that the tree ‘exists’ only in the ‘mind’, in your C, in your particular scheme of knowing and understanding. At any rate, such a judgment would be as ‘true’ or as ‘false’, or more ‘true’ and less ‘false’, than the summary assertion “I saw a tree.” The Buddha has asked us to barely see. He has asked us to barely see (and not involve mana, the mind, in reactions, responses). That is true ‘seeing’. The ethical implications of such an appraisal of the world – both external and internal – are enormous." 
"The nearest conceivable lakṣaṇa – mark or feature – of Nirvana – according to Gautama, the Buddha, is peace. Bhagwan was careful to point out that the peace – the śanti lakhana of Nirvana – is not the ‘peace’ experienced by creatures in the world of phenomena."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

How does intuition relate to transcendence

Matthew Arnold

Dover Beach (c. 1867)

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

How does intuition relate to transcendence?

Faith must be freely chosen.

If God can't be parsed from the whole of the Real there can be no transcendence except in the sense that arriving where you started you know the place for the first time.

The world of things is available to us through our senses alone yet there is a transcendent aspect of "things-in-themselves".  But it is not a separate realm.  What is perceived in phenomenal reality is not entirely factual. "Plato himself esteemed beauty as the particular form of value that actually can be seen in things. To make this consistent with the rest of his theory, however, he had to say that beautiful objects were only "shadows" of the higher reality, "participating" in the Form of Beauty. Although Kant's own aesthetics were subjectivist ...., his metaphysics could allow for a more literal rendering of Plato's own claim about beauty: Since transcendence is in phenomenal objects, the beauty that we see in things is in fact a perception right through factual reality to Beauty Itself." (Kelly Ross)

Now, turn that a little further and you might get: Since transcendence is in phenomenal objects, the sacred that we see in things is in fact a perception right through factual reality to the Divine itself. 

Intuition is this "perception right through factual reality" and as such is the faculty of transcendence, such as it is.  Arriving where you began and knowing the place for the first time is thus explained.  It is a real transcendence without the baggage of requiring a separate realm or level of reality.  Faith is active intuition. When freely selected it can blossom into a full mode of existence, a way of life, a path to everlasting transcendence; a dwelling in the numinous.  It is nothing short of a prolonged and everlasting Noesis.  The only way you have faith is if you choose faith.  It is the very essence of the affirmation of the Real. Faith and intuition are evidence of things unseen.  They are inclusive; they are constant affirmation continuing across the entire spectrum of experience.  In a sense they are the opposite of Science as a mode of being in the world which demands of the Real convincing proofs before the suspension of doubt.

False and fanciful notions of transcendence whether as a project of History, as in cultural Marxism, or, similarly, exoteric Religion, secular or otherwise, with its idea of a separate and perfect realm called Heaven, or Nirvana, or a perfect state of cultural utopia however defined by the social justice warriors, denizens of the Cult of Modern Liberalism,  are root causes of a discarnate longing, insensate and  boundless, a force of nature, a passion to finally arrive at a state of completion always just the other side of every day reality.  The reason people are so miserable is they insist on making the world conform to their notion of transcendence.  They say they have the answer to life's problems and intend to force their ideas on everyone else - because they, unlike the rest of us, really do own the truth, have a direct path to the one true source, "God", whether it is religious or secular.  So, until everyone thinks "right thoughts" we will be mired in misery and it is their mission to make certain this misery is shared equally.  The Progressive of the Cult hurries in a perpetual vanishing and has no reflexivity.  He is discarnate longing for his Utopian dreams, wholly owned by the daemonic.  This evil is the state of being insatiable, forever seeking fulfillment in an ever receding underivable future condition.

You can thank Christianity and its offshoots for this.  As a force of nature, the boundless, insensate and discarnate passion, longing, to finally own completion in a final act of transcendence is Christianity's gift to the world.  Christianity posited the daemonic spirit in the world and is responsible for the modern malaise wherein western man has evolved into a spiritless self, a self filled with despair and self-loathing, utterly lost and confused and yet increasingly certain that they alone have the prescription for society's ills.  They are the "insensate prison of an alien and restless power in quest of a 'hidden' divinity" or surrogate thereof.  (William Poteat)