Saturday, May 28, 2022

Contrasting World Views


Desani: If there was only one religion you would only have a partial view [of being/reality]

Co-creator - Rabbinic Judaism

Means by which world has self experience, knows itself - Distillation of Hinduism by G.V. Desani

Sinner who must be saved - Christianity

There is truth in all of the above. The idea that we are partners with the divine as co-creators merges with the idea that we are the means by which the world has self experience; God descends into matter in order to re-emerge a self realized being. That is the story of Jesus. In a sense Jesus is everyman, then. But pride inhibits this unfolding and is the sin from which we must evolve in order to be who we really are. Saved from our sin is to give up our will, humble ourselves before the divine creative spirit. It is expressed as "Take up your cross and follow me." Give up your will to mine, is what that means. Then our life is no longer ours but "his", our father's. God, the creator then lives through us. If the will, our little will, is triumphant, then the self, our little self, won't humble itself and we will continue as slaves to our passions, or worse, if one believes in demon possession. The path most, in the Western world, are on leads to self-loathing as we struggle in vain to shed this guilt which has been inculcated into us for two thousand years. Instead of understanding it for what it is, a key to redemption, we sublimate it only to have it continuously crop up in every aspect of our lives.

Be like the bamboo leaf on which snow accumulates until the leaf gives way and the snow slips off. It follows its own nature without effort, without willing. There is no will involved whatsoever. The leaf surrenders to the weight of the snow flakes flawlessly; the Beauty of this is ineffable.

Surrender to God is in the Hindu's Gita. So is love of God (Bhakta) and ritualized worship. Self denial, asceticism, is there too. Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity seem to have appealed in ancient times to a common undercurrent. What they commonly teach distills down to what, in Yoga, is called "inhibition of the citta vritis". Suppression of the modifications of the mind. That would, of course be Patanjali's first sutra on the nature and meaning of Yoga in his Yoga Sutras. Inhibition of modifications of the mind, or consciousness, could be viewed as surrender to God and is intended to accelerate the realization that we finite beings point to the infinite, are made in the image of all that is; we are sparks of the divine, it is taught. As David Goldman puts it in his Beethoven essay, the infinite is ever present and appearances always point to it as that is where the infinite, so to speak, hides. So, God is omnireal, omnipresent and there is no finite absent the infinite. This is similar to there being no light absent darkness, no good absent evil, no positive absent the negative. There are contrasting pairs, aspects, of reality everywhere.

Failing to realize these points is a spin off of our diabolical endeavor to build a machine to replace God; call it the "web", the "interNET". It is, at least, intended to be all providing (Amazon), Omniscient (Wikipedia, e.g.), and Omnipresent (Google, et al), Omnipotent (the State). It is infinitely malleable; we make it whatever we want and call it good but I think it likely is the opposite. We've made a Faustian bargain? And this machine god is ruthless, takes a terrible toll among the impressionable young. Should we encourage the measurement of the value of one's life on facebook likes, on re-tweets, up and down votes?

Sixty years ago I lived, as a young soldier, in Gablingen Kaserne. It was an old barracks used formerly, during WWII, by the German Wehrmacht. I was a soldier, an Infantryman. Looking back on that, taking its measure from long perspective, I now realize that likely those couple of years were the best of my life. That young soldier would think me crazy for saying this now. He was so full of himself, of longing, of ambition, restlessness, eagerness. He never, or hardly ever, saw himself for what he was. Yes, he'd been brought up right, had good parenting, learned the religious things they taught then, which he mostly rejected being so self absorbed. He didn't know it but he was like a bird fluttering over the abyss.  Now I'm still that bird but the abyss has grown to infinite proportions. If someone had told him the way to understand, simply put, what I have written here and elsewhere is to realize that man confers on God individuality and in return God confers on man universality That is a simple truth and is, I believe, the true story of Jesus. Put a bit differently, the story of Jesus is intended to teach that man, at least potentially, displays the attributes of God. As co-creator he even has the power to replace God with a machine and worship that. Realizing this is near impossible, because, of course, we are mired in our "sin" which, that young man would never understand, means simply that we cling to our will at all cost. Given this being we manage continuously to corrupt it in ever new and shiny ways. The web tangles us the more in that net.

History is pressing us forward. We are on a journey through unfolding cultural epochs. The transition from one to the next is anything but seamless. The features fractalize, get corrupted, intentions take on a life of their own in spite of whether they were good or bad. They morph, combine, bubble up out of the mire and forever sprout evolving manifestations of themselves. First we lived as artists, artisans, primitavely assemblying our world mainly into questions about who we were, what this was that we found ourselves in. Art asks questions but expects no answers but soon our questions led to primitive answers about purpose and meaning and we merged into the succeding epoch, religion which had the answers putting them above man in a separate realm called heaven with God as custodian. Reality was perfect above, beyond man, and corrupt below. It was an Aristotleian view of the world. That morphed into science - we were only three steps removed from our beginning where the impossible to access answers as to meaning and purpose continues to be beyond us in the sense it perpetually awaits explication in a "grand unifying theory". One theory creates ever successive opportunities for new and better explanations of how things fit together in an assumed mechanistic universe. Science enhances our material nature and we become ever more enslaved by it thereby but history as cultural epoch comes to us now and further emphasizes the material aspect of being. We theorize that history shows the way logically by steps through a heuristic and dialectic process, a recursive and infinite regress for the betterment of mankind's lot. As in Religion and Science, in History we similarly a final synthesis to be reached on a perpetually vanishing horizon that we somehow can neveer quite reach. This is where we are now. In these epochs consciousness is directed out from us into the world. The West having learned through Christianity to "spread the good word" continues that missionary zeal with endless meddling in other people's affairs "for their own good" - in short, the historical effort to colonize continues with zeal the evangelists of old would admire. Some even say we are now colonizing ourself. Now, if only we could connect everyone somehow with a live system that is always on we would have achieved history's wildest dream as everyone merges into The Hive with the necessary loss, of course, of any individuality. In The Hive Sobran says that like an Hive bound insect one loses the need for a soul of one's own. That's the cost of being in the collective. In the ancient Vedas it is written that "Knowing your own self (soul) you know the soul of the Universe." Its of paramount importance to guard your individuality though we are almost to the point of totaly losing ours. Only a few luddites, old people, stand in the way and of course we know how to deal with those. War, famine, divisiveness, not to speak of custom made pandemics and fear, are useful tools in this. There are too many people anyhow.

To recap, the crowning achievement of these cultural epochs was the industrial revolution. The industrial revolutin is evolving into total interconnectivity, interdependence of all mankind when this material machine completely replaces God. Our primitive man would rebel against this intuitively. But Religion, Science, and History could care less. Reason  finally has its triumph as it gloats over its great achievement of destroying man. Thing about a dystopia is everyone is on the same page, everything finally makes sense and is in logical order whatevere it costs. But, there will be another epoch sprouting out of this, to be sure.

Eratosthenes (276-194BC) in Syene Egypt, now Aswan, discovered the circumference of Earth. It was measured in Stadia, based on the size of the then current Greek unit of length. From that was calculated the diameter of the Earth, about 8,000 miles. Now, in astronomical terms that is indeed a tiny thing. We live on a planet that is likely almost impossible to detect outside the solar system. The earth/sun orbits its center of mass which is deep inside the sun. We are barely here, unknown, alone in the abyss of space. What are we doing to earn our keep? Oh, we are kept, make no doubt about it. By what/whom is unknowable to us but we are, it seems, somewhat sentient life forms. If there is a purpose and meaning we might come to have at least a rudimentary understanding of it. The first step should be to humbly accept what we truly are and that is decidedly not the author of our own inheritance of this tiny dirt ball we call planet Earth. Think about this. Until we came along as sentient life forms there was no beauty, truth, love, understanding, wisdom, or any concomitant of consciousness whatsoever. Our emergence as living beings capable of self understanding was a precursor event for the emergence of these values or faculties. What is unfolding here? What further emergence will these precipitate? Could it be the divine itself? Or, have we perhaps reached our credit limit?

Consiousness is heretofore directed outwards. What would be the consequence of somehow managing to have it - realize it -as returning on itself?

I'm grateful for Paul Kingsnorth whose writings I've lately been studying for inspiring me to write this entry.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Concerning U Chan Htoon's paper on Buddhism

 Blaise Pascal, Pensee number 84: It is with rash insolence that we belittle the great to our own measure, as when talking of God.

Matthew 11:27 Neither doeth anyone know the Father, but the son, and he to whom it shall please the son to reveal him.

Matthew 7:7 Those who seek God find him.

We live on a planet orbiting what is known as a main sequence star, that is, rather common place. Our sun orbits the galactic center and is imbedded in a so called arm of its galaxy; the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. It has several arms and is disk shaped with a bulge at the center. The approximate distance from the sun to the center of the galaxy is about 26,600 light years. (When I studied astronomy some years ago that number was thought to be 30,000.) The diameter of the whole system is approximately 100,000 light years. It takes 225 million years for the sun to complete an orbit around the center of the galaxy. Now the sun, as a main sequence type star, has an expected life span of nine billion years of which it has lived about half. That means that it has completed about 20 orbits and has about the same number to go during its remaining life. The Milky Way contains between 100 and 400 billion stars.(A 2020 article on this.)

That gives a little perspective to what follows, I hope. Everything I know, understand, and so forth, is nothing more than a fly speck on the moon. So, as is said nowadays, your mileage may vary. I certainly have no more standing than anyone else to comment on the subject matter at hand. It is by the Lord's blessing, I suppose, that I have such inclinations in the first place.

U Chan Htoon, former Justice of the Burmese high court, spoke to the Sixteenth Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom at the University of Chicago, August 12th, 1958. In 1961 G.V. Desani delivered the lecture "Vipassana Bhavana, Yoga, and Other Topics" to the diplomatic corp at the Israeli ambassador's residence in Rangoon, Burma. Justice Htoon was in attendance.

In Buddhism we try to avoid the use of the word "spirit" because this may be taken to imply some kind of enduring entity...

He then goes on to claim it should be understood, rather, as a psychic process. I take this to mean it does not endure except in a (local) relativity-complex in the same sense that for movement (of bodies) to exist there must be a multiplicity of "bodies", that is, more than one. Movement is relative only. More on this later.

It is further stated that "...rebirth is not the reincarnation of a "soul" after death, but more precisely it is the continuation of a current of cause and effect from one life to another. There is nothing in the universe that is not subject to change, and so there is no static entity which can be called a "soul". A being is the totality of five factors; material, the physical body, sensations, perceptions, volitions, and consciousness. "All these factors are undergoing change from moment to moment and are linked together only by the causal law - the law that 'this having been, that comes to be.' Hence Buddhist philosophy regards a being not as an enduring entity but as a dynamic process."

He goes on the claim that Nibbana is permanent and characterizes it as release from the realm of becoming, samsara. It has no qualities, no relative values which always require, what he calls a "relativity-complex". Positive and negative attributes depend on one another for their existence, for instance. Also, light(ness) and dark(ness) being opposite poles of a "relativity_complex" depend on one another for their existence, too. Neither is absolute. In the Desani lecture cited above the claim is also made that Nibbana (Nirvana) is permanent.

Michelson and his colleague Morely, tried to establsh the absolute existence of the aether. Many thought at the time that it was required to have a universal medium whereby light was propogated. He found instead that the aether did not exist. Subsequently Albert Einstein explained that the speed of light was dependent on the (an) observer. The speed of light is only relative to an observer. Einstein also said, relevant to this, that there is no natural rest-frame in the universe. This leads me to speculate that were the universe a single body light would not exist, just as movement wouldn't. There must be that relativty-complex. Also, I find it interesting that Einstein wrote, per Mr. Htoon, that "if there is any religion that is acceptable to the modern scientific mind, it is Buddhism." I tend to claim, however, that Buddhism is not a religion because there is no personal God. Buddha never claimed to be a Lord or God in the flesh. Jesus was circumspect in this. He did say "I am the truth, the life, and the way. No man cometh to the father except by me." Also, "Believest thou not that I am the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me..." John 14.

God can't have self experience without descending into matter and assuming corporeal form(s). The "Word" is made flesh in order that God, the Divine creative spirit can have self knowledge. That is, in this writer's mind, the purpose and meaning of life. The story of Jesus Christ is a metaphor for this. And, of course, the so called "relativity-complex" of Justice Htoon is required for this. This writer makes an assumption that the actual stuff of which we are made, the same as the sun, of course, has a kind of self awareness based on sentient forms compounded of the same stuff.

Furthermore, its my premise that U. Chan Htoon didn't fully understand Judaism and Christianity. Consider Exodus (the Bible), Moses asks God "Who shall I say sent me?" Tell them, God replies, "I Am sends you." Being itself sends you. I don't find anything corresponding to this in the lecture.

So, the meaning of Jesus; God descends into matter in order to "re-emerge" an enlightened (fully self realised) being. Why wouldn't one say the same of the Buddha? and that such beings, all sentient life for that matter, become, along the way, co-creators of the Real, the world. Certainly, it is put forward that Jesus was in hypostatic union with God, the Father. Why couldn't the same be said for Buddha; 100% man but 100% God, too? Wasn't he an Jagatguru? Having escaped impermanence in the permanence of Nibbana would one be considered to have also reached the seemingly impossible hypostatic union with the Divine creative spirit, or whatever you want to call it? Would that bit of the sun stuff of which we have the pleasure to be co-compounded realised once and for all exactly what it is? That fly speck? One would needs discover this for oneself.

Said another way, man (sentient life forms) supplies the cosmos with individuality while the cosmos gives man, in return, universality. Enlightened beings realise this whether said explicityly or no. This from my mentor. And this, too, seems relevant: "where the concentration is, there is the persistent, the lasting, the permanent. That to which attention goes is that which returns. In a sense to attend to something is to put consciousness into it, to bring it to life, to self awareness." Put another way, if there is no observer there is nothing. Also,the recursive process that results in rebirth must be said to gain in vitality by the concentration, self awareness, of the successive lives so attached.

Kamma or Karma, as well as the precept that nothing endures, is permanent, and thus, there is no "soul" that carries forward through successive lives, is best understood, I think, when the Real, the world, is considered as a recursive phenomenon. Recursion, the Fibonacci sequence is the best example I know - 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13..... - Zero is the still point, of course, wherefrom the "beginning". It is necessary for any meaning or understanding whatsoever. So, every instance of the Real is a product of the preceding (instances). It is a fractal wherein knowing the still point you know it all. Yes, its a mystery but, clearly, out of nothing comes nothing (Ex nihil, nihil fit). This is why its impossible to explain, why the talk about the ultimate having no attributes, why when the journey is completed one arrives at the beginning but knows the place for the first time. Something happens during the process, the journey! Consciousness? Moreso, all that is happening now added to all that has ever happened equals all that will ever happen. This is, to me, how karma can be grasped. To recap, the purpose of the existence of the elements of recursion in the "relativity-complex" is to source new instances which have no permanence in themselves. They are made to fade. The process, however, is a kind of permanence in the same sense that a river, though ever changing, remains the river, and the instances, drops of water, merge eventually into the sea through ever widening banks. Poetically, they widen to embrace the sea.

Further, as Desani puts it here, For whatever activity undertaken, there is a spirit for that doing and that spirit in time gets a life of its own, gets self awareness as it goes on. These acts eventually become forms of worship. Doing good enhances goodness. Goodness is the reservoir drawn from when acts of kindness are done. And it is thereby increased. These acts are like accretions. Charity grows by use. Doing right this time makes it easier the next and so forth. Of course, it works the same for evil doers. A murderer draws on a different kind of reservoir to do his evil. His evil adds to that and the next time it is easier to follow that path. Evil begats evil, one reaps what one sows. It works that way. Love, Beauty, Truth, begat more of the same, too.

The lecture's full title is Buddhism and the age of Science. I can't find it on the net except to purchase but my copy is a Wheel Publication No. 36/37.

This writer's view is quite different especially concerning what is said about Science. I think they fail to understand Science and its place in the total scheme of human endeavors. I see it, as did Philosopher R.G. Collingwood, as an emergent phenomenon along with art, religion, and other modalities of being in the world. Collingwood's scheme compares to Soren Kierkegaard's in that Kierkegaard views faith as such a mode of being. Art, religion, science, history, then philosophy is how Collingwood describes the recursion of these modalities.

It is philosophy that Collingwood thought was the natural culmination of the preceding elements. He describes them in detail, their successes and failings. Here, I write of his work in this regard. Soren Kierkegaard's work is much more difficult to grasp but I go into it to. Here.

I said above that Buddhism could be thought of as not being a religion in the sense of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and so on. Perhaps it could be better understood as coming after philosophy in Collingwood's progression, after faith in Kierkegaard's. If these modes, art and the rest, are truly like the Fibonacci sequence then philosophy is not the final element; neither would Buddhism be were it included. The Sun is, after all, middle aged. Having 20 more orbits to make around the Milky Way, 20 more galactic years to live, I'd imagine we'll have ample opportunity to plumb the depths of Reality's infinite malleability.

Collingwood describes philosophy as "consciousness returning on itself"; like a fountain. Pretty image. I think it is a prototype of what Buddhism and, also, the esoteric teachings of the yogis, is. My mentor's writings give the best jumping off place for what might be the next big thing in mental culture.

In working this up I am indebted to David Warren and his piece on God's Existence, here. I love this quote: "For science, or human knowledge more broadly, God is not an hypothesis, but an Axiom. Start in Aristotle, if you will, to see that the world has no purchase on sense, without the Unmoved Mover. The “Five Ways” by which the inevitability of God was demonstrated by Thomas Aquinas, and the related ways in which this was done by others before and after him, are easily misunderstood, because they are not proofs of an hypothesis but recursions. They show, without the “God Axiom,” that there can be no causation, no change, no being in itself, no gradation, no direction to an end. We need a Still Point, from which to depart. It cannot be hypothesized. It is too simple for that. You need to assume it even to contradict it."

Finally, I write here about entelechy, the end within. According to Buddhist thought there is no end, no beginning, only the process has any claim on reality. So, any end within dependes on a local framework, a relativity-complex, in Mr. Htoon's usage. I'd put forward that if you must have a concept of the end within then go with Mr. T.S. Eliot's beautiful notion that after all our struggles, trouble, turmoil, conquests, losses, "we arrive where we started but know the place for the first time."

Notes extracted from my "A Plus Notebook" which also contains notes on Don Juanism from Poteat's class

 Desani, March 14, 1973

Burn the seeds (of deeds) by high samadhi only. The weakened klesa is stronger than the klesas/passion full blown because its expression is more subtle, harder to root out because they are harder to recognize.

Margin note here that I got Texas tags today; quit moving houses. March 21, 1973. This means I retagged the 72 Chevy yellow van that I bought in Virginia and that I no longer worked with Jerry Sires. This leaves some confusion in my mind because I thought we finished moving houses prior to my purchase in VA. of the van. Maybe it means I quit "leveling" houses with Jerry.

Now the notes.

Heavy Karma is in the mind. There is a diagram here, a circle with a small area at the top delineated as "fixed destiny" while the larger area is labeled "unseen karma". This unseen karma it is noted, consists of inumerable past deeds, words, lives.

The desiring of an object is animalistic.

Clinging to an object is equivalent to fear of losing same.

Fear is equivalent to guilt. Or rather, their natures are intimately entwined. (This is not attributable to Desani. It is mine.)

If one tends to animalism one eventually falls into violent experiences, employment, etc. For instance, the proliferation of armaments.

A sanskara is an unaccountable karmasaya.

Important: To have a spiritual mentor is a fixed destiny.

Attachment (is related to) revulsion.

A selfless action is a virtuous action.
Duty, not? intention, with love, with compassion.

Desani spent five years learning to walk without intention. It is exceedingly difficult, he said.

Restraints must be imposed on things that are easily overindulged in, for instance, sex.

My aside: Desani is a composer, a maestro, a conductor. He draws ideas, words, etc., into a mosaic.

When sattva rises to its highest level illumination is produced (in a situation).

There is a need to rise above the sweet and the bitter experience; there is a reward.

Told story about being in Burma, about yogis, hills, snakes, very large mosquitoes, AHIMSA (non violence). Desani reformed - first "clean" room - for a smooth pursuit of practice.

"The Science of Yoga"
I.K. Taimini

Sutra is an aphorism. (Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are aphorisms.)

First sutra: Yoga is control of the vriti, modifications, of citta, consciousness.

Patanjali was the compiler of yoga, an ancient tradition. (Later note: He was a retainer of a King I expect somewhat like the European Kings retained astronomers, mathematicians, etc.)

The Gita notes there are many yogas. The sage Patanjali's yoga is a precursor of these:

Raja yoga
Dhyana/Zen yoga
Karma yoga - yoga of action (without desire)
Bhakti yoga - yoga of devotion - like a practiciing Christian's love for his God. This would be Krsna.
Hatha yoga - physical yoga
Kundalina yoga

Samkhya is the theoretical basis of yoga.

The yogi seeks quiesence in order to attain samadhi or satori.

The philosophy derived from the yoga sutras is outlined thus:

Here a chart is drawn showing two realities. On the left is Purusha or spirit and on the right is Prakriti or existential mass, the substance of the universe, nature. Prakriti consists, with reservations, of three elements known as the gunas. They are Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. (see below)

A line extends downward through Mahat, cosmic intelligence and then to Ahamkara, the principle of individuality, of "I am".

A margin note here explains that the first product of the union of Purusha and Prakriti is Mahat.

Below Ahamkara comes Manas, the cosmic mind. Below Manas the chart branches into, on the left, Indriyas, the power of the senses, hearing, smelling, seeing, etc., and on the right the Tanmatras or subtle elements of sound, odor, visibility, etc.

Another margin note explains that it is from the Mahat that Patanjali intellectualized his compilaton. It is also the Mahat that westerners allude to when they speak of universal mind.

That is the chart.

Consciousness is made of, consists of (the) three gunas. A rose is made of the gunas. The "image" of a rose in one's mind is made of the gunas. The difference is, with some reservations, a matter of quantity.

Sattva is the most subtle substance in nature. It is mental substance. On the moral level it is goodness. On the aesthetic level it is the most beautiful.

Rajas is the animating element.

Tamas is the passive element, the tendency to procrastinate is tied in with Tamas. It is also the steadying element. It pulls toward sleep.

Yoga has to do with the second guna, with stopping the animating element so that Sattva can shine forth. This is the quieting of consciousness.

Samadhi grants mokti, freedom. There are different levels of Samadhi. (page 41 of book)

Incomplete note on Samprajnatta (sp.) Samadhi.

There are five kinds of citta vritis.
1. A person feels full of lethargy, sleepy. Sattva and rajas are conquered by tamas. (The god's never sleep and Desani, as monk, went ten or so days with no sleep. In this condition sattva reigns.)
2. Full of anger, tamas dominates.
3. Full of restlessness, rajas dominates.
4. Full of good works, Sattva dominates.
5. The highest Samadhi is the one that grants knowledge.

We have Purusha, or spirit on the one hand and Prakriti, cosmic substance on the other.

Yoga means union or yoke. The first result of the union or yoking of spirit and cosmic substance is cosmic intelligence.

On foreknowledge, a side note on the Nadi shastras, he said that two centuries ago on palm leaf [was written references] to Desani by name. It gives date of birth, place, and so forth. More on this here.

Qualities of Purusha: It is the Lord. It is not material. It is conscious.

Qualities of Prakriti: Sattva, mental substance, Raja, activating element, Tamas, inertia.

A 2500 year old commentary says that space and time are schemes for the understanding.

In Mahat Sattva dominates. Mahat is the source of wisdom. Mahat is the first evolute. Literally mahat means the great.

When Purusha and Prakriti are joined and the first evolute arises it is Purusha who sees this. It is Purusha that sees all.

Ahamkara is the precondition for the mind's ability to discriminate. At Mahat there is no discrimination but just an ocean of light. (A thought that most people evolve to Ahamkara and stop, especially westerners.)

Yoga is the stilling of cita vritties, of modifications of consciousness.

(Yoga nirodha citta vritti.)

Consciousness is material so what we think effects others. Thought empinges on the object of thought: Highly advanced yogi might think of a person as dead that person will find his death. If I think good..... Desani has seen it.

Thought is substance. Think Sattva will increase, it will. Think Raja as increasing, it will. Think Tamas as increasing and it will. Example of a teacher at Cambridge hitting a student who questioned whether thought could be proved to be a substance in the stomach with a visualized (by thought) heavy object. Desmond hit his student, turned, whirled to face student. The student fell, was hospitalized, almost died. Desani said this was a petty trick. Also a man worked ten years to perfect a trick whereby he could not be moved by five men from a train he refused to pay for. He thought heavy object into existence at the base of his spine. That is, he cultivated Tamas at the base of his spine.

There are four states of consciousness. Awake, sleep, profound sleep, Samadhi.

One must practice and practice detachment.

The intellect is material. If it is mirror like, superior material, it is comprised mostly of Sattva.

Purusha is masculine, the divine father. Prakriti is feminine, the divine mother.

Gita and Rabbinic Philosophy, and Lieb, and others

 This is a workup which I might edit later.

Irwin Lieb, formerly Chairman of the University of Texas at Austin Philosophy Department, and my professor, stated that the only individual is the entire Universe itself. We are only nominally individuals, he said.

Vedas: Soul of man is same as soul of universe

(Svetasvatara) Upanishad: He is not a male, He is not a female,He is not a neuter. He neither is nor is not. When He is sought He will take the form in which He is sought, and again He will not come in such a form. ... It is indeed difficult to describe the Name of the Lord.

Buddhism: There is no soul; there is nothing permanent.

Christian Bible (Exodus): Tell them "I Am" sends you (to Moses)

Albert Einstein: Speed of light depends on the "observer".

(How to resolve these)

Rabbinic: Man is in partnership with "maker of heaven" in the continuing work of creation

Compare Rig Veda 10.129 with Parmenides (see David Goldman)

Compare this to Gita/Vedas: For the Greeks, time is the demarcation of events. But in Hebrew time, it is the moment itself that remains imperceptible. As Kohelet 3:15 states: “That which is, already has been; and that which is to be has already been; and only God can find the fleeting moment.” From David Goldman

Soloveitchik, "Lonely Man of Faith": at end, pgs. 59 on he succinctly characterizes the dilemma of modern man in terms that have a ring of truth. Could compare to Rougemont and Kierkegaard, e.g. Compare also with Bhagavad Gita's characterization of "man of faith", or, as Soloveitchik terms him, "Adam the second". "Faith is born of the intrusion of eternity upon temporality....Faith is experienced not as a product of some emergent evolutionary process..."

So I guess this might mean, contrary to what I have thought, it isn't a concomitant of consciousness?  I don't understand how eternity can be an an intrusion at all. I think the temporal is as likely as not designed to make eternity meaningful.

Goldman on Beethoven and the sublime: "The Sublime challenges us to conceive of something that transcends the way we process sense information. Because the Sublime demands our intellectual response, it evokes freedom: We are not the passive observer of fixed and limited phenomena, but the artist’s collaborator in the recreation of the art work. We must lift our spiritual level to engage it."

Goldman applies Soloveitchik's thesis here that "Man is in partnership with the "maker of heaven" in the continuing work of creation."

The Jews were brought out of Egypt, bondage, crossed a river via a miracle. Americans were brought out of the Old World, escaping servitude, crossed an ocean, resumed their journey across the continent, seeking an ever escaping redemption.

On reading Milton Rothman's "The Laws of Physics" and Bishop George Berkely's theories on motion:

"There is motion only in relation between objects."

Apply to understanding and knowledge.

Knowledge is always of the "other"; only in relation between objects.

Understanding, on the other hand, does not require multiplicity. See (Nous) Noesis, intuition. Understanding is reflexive, consciousness returning on itself, R.G. Collingwood. Only when multiplicity is dropped can understanding arise. Apply this to Goldman on Beethoven, above. Understanding is sublime, is the finest exemplar of true Freedom. It is transcendence. It is not a thing but a verb. It is merging of the soul of man with the "I Am" of Exodus. The state of passive observation of "fixed and limited phenomena" must be dropped, pass away. Only then can the "I Am" take the forefront. Only then can we truly exercise collaboration with Being, with the Art of a Beethoven, the Philosophy of a Soloveitchik or a LIeb.

Rougemont finis

 M. de Rougemont intends with his analysis of the literature surrounding the Tristan and Isolde myth, its development through the centuries, to diagnose the breakdown of western civilisation, especially marriage. While he believes he succeeds he stops short of prescribing a solution thinking instead it would likely do more harm than good. He adopts the attitude that its best to just let it play out hoping along the way we don't destroy ourselves in the process. For, indeed, the morphology of the myth in its final stages invests our predatory nature with fantastic war making abilities augmented, it seems, with ever increasing machine, and now computerized, and it would seem biological, methods of killing vast numbers of people, whole populations, or segments thereof.

Though he makes no prescription for the culture as a whole he does embrace Soren Kierkegaard's views on coping with the madness.

Cite SK. Pg 315: Adopts Kierkegaard's view as his own that human life tends to proceed in stages from the aesthetic through the ethical, ending in faith. Passion, he thinks, is "the highest value in the aesthetic stage" while extolling marriage as the highest in the ethical. But marriage is claimed to be the highest obstruction in the religious stage for it fetters one to time whereas faith requires eternity.

In this writer's view the image of the sword placed between Tristan and Iseult as they sleep signifies what is said about renouncing marriage as an obstruction when entering life's final stage of faith. "Goal was no longer redemption through love but redemption through renunciation." One gives up passion, love, in favor of dissolving the little self with the eternal. This is why Tristan can say I am the whole world as Wagner has him do.

Doesn't this correspond nicely with Kierkegaard's attitude? Rougemont writes: "When the lover in the Manichaean legend has undergone the great ordeals of initiation he is met ... by a dazzling maiden who welcomes him with the words: 'I am thyself!' So with fidelity in the myth, and Tristan's. Fidelity is then a mystic narcissism ... imagining itself to be true love for the other. In analysing the courtly legends, however, we saw that Tristan is not in love with Iseult, but with love itself, and beyond love he is really in love with death - that is, with the only possible release there can be for a self guilty and enslaved. Tristan is true neither to a pledge nor to a symbolical being named Iseult. She is but a lovely pretext, and all the time he is being true to his most profound and secret passion. The myth seizes on 'the death instinct' inseparable from any form of created life, and transfigures it by bestowing upon it an essentially spiritual goal. To destroy oneself, to despise happiness is thereupon a way of salvation and of acceding to a higher life, to 'the highest bliss of being' sung of by the expiring Isolde (in Wagner's opera)." Life for the sake of death was Tristan's passion and "The love of Tristan and Iseult was the anguish of being two; and its culmination was a headlong fall into the limitless bosom of Night....Iseult is no more, Tristan no more, and no name can any longer part us!"

Kierkegaard's existential anguish, his fear and trembling (Frygt og Baevan) resulting from the lost love of his Regine brought him low and he ended as a "fatally unhappy" man which he equates with man's relation with an eternal and holy God from the standpoint of the finite and sinful human. He said "God creates everything ex nihilo." Whomsoever God elects by his love, "He begins by reducing to nothing." This, he said, makes God "my mortal enemy." M. de Rougement writes: "Here we are being brought up against the extreme limit, the pure springs of passion; and in the same moment we are thrust into the heart of the Christian faith! For, behold! the man now dead to the world, killed by infinite love, has to go forward and to live in the world....(such a man) has renounced all things with an infinite resignation, and .... is constantly leaping into the infinite, but faultlessly and with complete confidence, so that he drops back into the finite, and nothing is noticeable about him but the finite."

Finally, Rougemont continues: "Thus the extremity of passion - death in love -introduces a new life, where passion never ceases to be present, but is under the most jealous incognito; for it is now far more than regal, it is divine." (This is in contradiction to his former exegesis of the myth, in this writer's opinion, but is in reality much nearer the actual Truth. While all that goes before goads the reader into plumbing the myth's and western civilization's morbidity his final summation and recap is rather uplifting, offers some hope.)

This makes sense, I think, of Tristan's "I am the world" attitude. Whereas mystic union, the explanation thereof, fails completely one can nevertheless circumscribe it, though perhaps only in increasingly vague terms. While it admittedly is a slippery matter perhaps one learns that though it evades our attempts to grasp or hold it we can gain somewhat by just accepting it (with cupped hands, so to speak). Receive instead of take, in other words. Denis de Rougemont is a master of all this, as was Soren Kierkegaard, and for that matter Socrates, Jesus, the Buddha - its a long list. Suffice to say, Rougemont continues: "We are unendingly and incessantly in the thick of the struggle between nature and grace; unendingly and incessantly unhappy and then happy. But the horizon has not remained the same. A fidelity maintained in the name of what does not change as we change will gradually disclose some of its mystery: beyond tragedy another happiness waits. A happiness resembling the old, but no longer belonging to the form of the world, for this new happiness transforms the world.

As said elsewhere Beauty is infinite, eternal, ever increasing, ever glorifying the divine. To get a little taste of this is man's lot gained by living in the finite, as intended, but from an eternal perspective. And, quoting Mr. T.S. Eliot, "when arriving at our destination we see it as our beginning but know it for the first time."

Infinite resignation is like total surrender to God......only then can we live perfectly in imperfection. Also said elsewhere in this blog, though its in error to ascribe to G_d anything at all, not even being itself (after all, Soren Kierkegaard himself, and he was and is known as a Christian philosopher, actually stood in the pulpit and expounding on faith, said that God does not exist. Why? Simplicity itself - "He is eternal" - that's why. That should need no explanation. And yet, in Exodus, appearing in a burning bush before Moses, asked "who shall I say sent me?", he replies, " Say that 'I am' sends you.")  it nevertheless dips into the limitless vastness of Beauty and Love and Truth to say that we sentient life forms, human beings on planet Earth, are the eyes and ears of the Cosmos, that simple device whereby G_d, if you like, has, or gains self realization, self understanding. The horizon of discovery is thus ever and anon pushed into infinity with we humans in endless renewal making pursuit. At the very least, I think, we are of the same stuff as the Sun, so our perception is no doubt the Sun's way of knowing itself. As stated this can not be explained for it is a matter of direct knowledge, Noesis, from which derives the noosphere wherein we find the concomitants of consciousness.

more thoughts

 self manifesting first principle

fundamental idea with the power to self manifest

potentiality with the power to actualize

The present is a realization or actualization of the past and future which are potentialities.


Music lives in the moment but its yearning is for the next moment. It is the essence of restlessness, of finding completion in the infinite regress of the horizon beyond the now.


If knowledge is always knowledge of something, then only reason leads to knowledge. All knowledge is through sense perception and memory. Direct knowledge, intuition, noesis, is not based on experience.


The oak dreams of the acorn. The acorn dreams of the oak. The stump lives in them both.


There is nothing that can be said that can do more for understanding the full meaning and purpose of life (enlightenment) than what a finger pointing at the moon can do for 'seeing' the moon.


Matter conveys individuality, form universality.


Guilt is the father of anger, hatred, self loathing. Salvation is the undoing of guilt through forgiveness, redemption. Guilt is self loathing. Achieve blamelessness through self sacrifice...accept the self as sacred.

More on Rougemont

 I'm on page 269. I wish I could recall which university course this book goes with. Of course it was philosophy, but don't recall which one. Perhaps William Poteat's course on "Eroticism, Music, and Madness". Seems fitting.

Details on the book: A Fawcett Premier Book copyright 1940, Harcourt, Brace and Company. This augmented edition copyrighted 1956, Pantheon Books, Inc., published by Fawcett World Library. Translated by Montgomery Belgion.

M. Rougemont was born in 1906 in Neuchatel, Switzerland. I once knew people there, interestingly, had a girl friend. Francoise Tschudin. They lived on the lake in Hauterive, Neuchatel. Beside the point, I know.

Rougemont views human relations through the lens of the Tristan and Isolde myth which dates from about the twelfth century. He cites multiple versions, multiple authors, with the troubadours playing the major part, at least in the beginning. He writes that the underlying theme of the myth is that Passion is Love perverted, is narcissistic. Literature of that time, and he cites many following works, is an expression of this perversion. The myth coincides with the beginning of civilization's departure into this gross error. His thesis, in part, is that this myth promotes common or acceptable behavior in the culture. Rougemont really gets down in the weeds. His genius, pg. 275: "...passion of love is at bottom narcissism, the lover's self-magnification, far more than it is a relation with the beloved. Tristan wanted the branding of love more than he wanted the possession of Iseult (Isolde). For he believed that the intense and devouring flame of passion would make him divine; and, as Wagner grasped, the equal of the world. See here.

Eyes with joy are blinded ...I myself am the world.

Whatever obstructs love actually consolidates, intensifies it, he writes. (Pg 43) The ultimate obstruction of love is the aim of the romantic who seeks the ultimate intensity, passion, consolidation. The romantic seeks unity. What expresses this better than  "I myself am the world?" The ultimate obstruction of love is death. The romantic seeks death but calls it passion. So, if obstruction is the true object of passion, the beloved is a mere substitute. And if peril brings obstruction the affinity for the thrilling arises. M. Rougemount describes enlightenment and redemption as "passing from existence into being." The desire to exceed our limits is "fatal but divinizing."

As mentioned earlier he works Mozart's Don Giovanni into his thesis but doesn't mention Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard thought of passion as a force of nature calling it the Daemonic in Nature, a sensuous-erotic principle. M. Rougemont agrees but doesn't acknowledge this profound idea - at least not directly. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. (Edit: at end of book he brings SK in.)

As an aside gravity is a force of nature, too, and spin, without which there is no vector, direction, or for that matter, congruence. Life too is a force of nature.

Rougemont strives mightily to quantify literature so that it confirms this thinking. There is some obfuscation there but his genius prevails though it is a bit messy at times. As I say, he really gets down in the weeds. There is a confirmation bias with him and, I'd note that the more we cling to our pet ideas the more we exclude the real truth. [And, what is true locally may be false universally.] Kierkegaard quickly elevates perverted Christian love to the universal daemonic in nature. So does M. Rougemont. Pg. 275: "Passion requires that the self shall become greater than all things, as solitary and powerful as God. Without knowing it, passion also requires that beyond its apotheosis death shall indeed be the end of all things."

Death is made an enervating force, finally making of war the inevitable outcome of passion's grip on humanity. William Poteat, and G.V. Desani also spoke of this. Desani said that the end of the development of war making machines, devices, ended necessarily in man's annihilation. Kierkegaard also thought annihilation was the natural end of the development of the "sensuous-erotic" principle.

We do hug and kiss our self destruction, the spokes of the wheel whose turning returns us again and again to our beloved suffering because of which we feel alive. The more we suffer passion's pains the more intense our lives. Passionate love is for the sake of pain. And the more we pursue our passions the faster their fulfillment recedes on an ever disappearing horizon.

There's no escape. Eastern religion and philosophy address these root causes and while Rougemont brings them into his subject he fails to address the reality of their suggested remedies. Neither does he acknowledge the esoteric teachings of the ancient rabbinic Jews. While he and Kierkegaard advance the notion that Christianity is not what we are led to believe it is, that it is in reality a destructive force, as it is popularized, they provide no insights as to the path one must take to escape the enumerated conundrums. (Editor: see next post)

On the Daemonic in nature. Love is in the noosphere so passion is too but not naturally in that created man puts it there. True love enhances life. Passion destroys. True love is selfless.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Denis de Rougemont "Love in the Western World"

 Emotional in the sense an agenda is in control. I don't know at this time whether he is promoting any particular point of view; whether it be Christian, which I suspect, or paganism. He alludes to but I don't think he embraces Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoga, the issues of the Mahabharata, or for that matter Manicheanism, Gnosticism, Platonism and several others. He does seem anxious to resolve the "stresses" into a "grand unified theory" subsuming all opposing spirits. He seems to write knowing the conclusion is foreordained, thus making his purpose suspect.

We argue the known outcome in order to have something to say! Noise! "Sound and fury signifying nothing." Which is not to say his scholarship is not of the highest order of professionalism.

But anyhow, its hard to ignore the comparison of this work to Kierkegaard's. An audacious question: Is Tristan and Iseult (the opera) to Rougemont as Don Giovanni was to Soren Kierkegaard?

On Good/Evil he assigns human agency, the Christian view. This is common practice and, in my opinion, a fallacy. Personhood does not necessarily pertain to the divine or the profane but is a reflection that man only understands, or rather, has knowledge of himself so God and Satan must be measured in terms thereof. Its simpler to accept Reality evolved to the world we see, are embedded in and will ever remain a mystery that, also ever, engenders discovery. Why must there be agency at all? Sure Good and Evil are real even without the "myths" adopted in order that we can easily grasp them on familiar terms. It is not necessary that understanding follows always from measurement in terms of human metrics. To do so merely reinforces the fact that man is self absorbed, self centered and not interested in Truth in and of itself. Divinity is not "personal" [to a God Head]. Divinity is universal, not finite but infinite. A Lord, The Lord, taking on the cloak of divinity is leaving the "person" aside and assuming the infinite quality of the divine in the same way a rose assumes the infinite quality of beauty. It is full self-realization.

Again, the rose is not itself beauty but beautiful. Rather it participates in, is a manifestation of beauty. Likewise things manifest are not the universe itself, but the universe, the Real - G_d, if you like - is made manifest in them. Divinity is thus made manifest in [all] man, sentient life forms especially. The Word is made flesh and Life is a tool in his box.

How long must we mistake measurement for understanding?


 "Oh, how sweet to be alive! How good to be alive and to love life! Oh the ever-present longing to thank life, thank existence itself, to thank them as one being to another being.

"This was exactly what Lara was. You could not communicate with life and existence, but she was their representative, their expression, in her the inarticulate principle of existence became sensitive and capable of speech."

Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago, Copyright 1958, Pantheon Books, Inc., New York, page 325

"....reality takes shape in memory alone...."

" yet belonged to an order of supernatural beings whom we have never seen, but whom, in spite of that, we recognize and acclaim with rapture when some explorer of the unseen contrives to coax one forth, to bring it down, from that divine world to which he has access, to shine for a brief moment in the firmament of ours."

"We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves...[The lives you admire] ...having been influenced by everything evil or common-place that prevailed round about them...represent a struggle and a victory."

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of things Past, Vol. I, Vintage Books, September, 1982 pps 201, 381, 923-924

This piece by Desani describes his personal struggle reflected in the creation of his literary works Hatterr and Hali. He uses himself as an example to elucidate all literary creation and its combination into human cultural traditions and propagation across varying, disparate, societies. The opening quotes are different ways of stating points he raises in his essay by literary geniuses who, I think, draw from the same reservoir.

He writes that "Literature is life-histories, a response by individuals to life, to love and hate, and both the makers and the readers need to have, from individual experience and formed habits (cultural involvement), the capacity to move and be moved." Quoting William Butler Yeats he says " ...I think profound philosophy comes from terror. An abyss opens under our feet... whether we will or not, we must ask the ancient questions: Is there a Reality anywhere? Is there...God? Is there a Soul?

Proust writes "...reality takes shape in memory alone..." Desani says this another way: "Inspiration arises from a reservoir of memories." He goes on to say "Art, for all the explaining, is a mystery: and original imageries, for all the exploring, the greater mystery." So, we do not receive high Art but discover it for ourselves in a continuous struggle that becomes a victory.

His Hali, he says, rejects " impersonal, amoral, indescribable, unknowable, all and nothing, a loveless, godless abstraction [called the atma]." Hali's was a "...God of of Love and Beauty, and it was from fulfillment, not defeat, that he willingly surrendered his life."

Pasternak wants to, and succeeds, in communicating with Being itself, when he realizes that his Lara is The Real made flesh. Desani has Hali write that he would " still, seek a thing of glory...and see what no mortal ever saw before, a vision of such enchanting awful beauty, that a mortal would die! [To behold which as a mortal would mean death.] "He found his vision in a human, his Rooh, of whom he said '...the God I prayed to was not holier than thou, none holier, none! ...Garland wert thou, the garland of God, to seek which I sought a temple, and thee I found!'

This writer believes "there is an order of supernatural beings whom we have never seen, but whom, in spite of that, we recognize and acclaim with rapture when some explorer of the unseen contrives to coax one forth, to bring it down, from that divine world to which he has access, to shine for a brief moment in the firmament of ours." Professor Desani does that in this little essay, and indeed, in all his writings, in his life, in our memory of him.

Todd Katz hosts this essay at this link. I've also linked to it here at

Thoughts on Desani's Series of Articles "Very High and Very Low"

 "The silence of a falling star

lights up a purple sky
and when I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could die."
Hank Williams

"Hello darkness my old friend
I've come to talk with you again..."
Paul Simon

Behold the rising sun - silence. Behold the setting moon - silence. Behold the eyes of your lover - silence. The fragrance of a rose - silence. Silence is that by which anything at all manifests, is intelligible. All phenomena originate in silence and there disappears, thus it is astride graves we give birth*. And Desani writes self-consciousness [is] the imposition of nothing on nothing at all. Ex nihilio nihil fit. (Out of nothing comes nothing.) And he quotes from an unpublished manuscript that "To shrink time into a circle and to be outside the circle" and so to know all, all." God maintains silence so we can speak. True beneficence. Is he sustained by our effort, our brave folly? What is it to him, our trouble, tumult, turmoil, travail? Thunder clouds - lightening - wind - storming renewal, rejuvenation, respite, and new growth. I shake you, jolt-volt you into new life.

In a new post at I link to Desani's Very High and Very Low writings. I wanted to make some separate but personal comments about these without 'meddling' with the original. I've tried assimilating here, and in many other places too, the essence of his teaching. Its a fools errand, I know. I quote and summarize him and intersperse my own thinking freely. My efforts amount to nothing. Readers are advised to go to, rely on the source writings here at Todd Katz's

Desani says one must surrender to art. Unpack that. To surrender to art is to be carried away by beauty. The same for Love, Liberty, Wisdom, Truth, any of the concomitants of consciousness. Pursuit - it is so that to intend to achieve the insight of the Buddha, of Jesus too, is a kind of pursuit - of these serves to push them over the horizon, puts them out of reach. It is quite different to have a strong intention. (One realizes along the way that the more you cling to something, a thing, an ideal, the more it slips from your grip. One fails to get water by grasping whereas cupping the hand and receiving that given is the contrasting view.) The same for enlightenment, Nirvana. "There's nothing to be said that can do more for enlightenment than what a finger pointing at the moon can do for seeing the moon." Zen proverb.

Desani writes that the Buddha decried the secrecy surrounding Indian spiritual practices of his time. He also writes that Indian teaching of Yoga and associated practices has degenerated into a for profit business. A Nadi text read to his acolytes in Austin Texas on June 21, 1980 says Desani is a "new [kind of] Yogi in the world". I think he intended to make these spiritual practices freely available, at least more easily accessible, for people. He repeatedly tells of searching far and wide for a particular text or initiation into a technique and now he freely shares that with this audience. (In the "Yellow Text of Theravada Buddhism" he publishes instructions, e.g.) So we benefit from his efforts. He acts on our behalf - the people of the world. Yet, keep in mind he repeatedly says these practices are for the especially initiated, that dangers lie in the path of those who would go it alone, without a qualified teacher. That seems contradictory. Admittedly I'm unaware of how one would have esoteric religious and yoga techniques available generally without bypassing requirements for specialized instruction. Still, one should not expect to pay for instruction from a charlatan that could very well lead to a false, a bad outcome. My best thought is just to do Bhakti yoga, which is 'love of the Lord' and leave the arcane practices to the so-called experts. That was Desani's fall back instruction if you can't find honest and open teaching. If one follows Desani's teachings one at least is aware of the pitfalls, the ubiquitous charlatanism, the lurking evil, and is better equipped to find the narrow path onward. He says that strong intention to do the practice necessary results mysteriously in doors being opened to one. If it is your destiny to find a good teacher, one will appear. Meanwhile lead a moral life. If one surrenders to art, to Beauty, one has largely learned how to surrender to God of which Beauty is one facet along with Love, Truth, the others.

What comes through the 'Very High and Very Low' columns, and profoundly, too, is Desani the philosopher and man of religion and for a bonus, a man of the world. He addresses the main questions of philosophy, theology, and human society which, of course, are not amenable to final answers. He explains why saying that high attainments of the Buddha and Yogis, those like him must, must, be experienced; that language, words, are of this world and share with all else of this world the ultimate result of causing pain and suffering. You can't get to 'heaven' by talking about it. Naturally that applies also to 'enlightenment', nirvana, and such. God might be the 'Word', but that doesn't mean you can talk your way into his grace, or any of the great beings that reside in him, the Lords, Divine Mothers, Devis, and so on.

On pdf page sixty-two I'd point out this gem. Paraphrase. Reality, the word, is a symbol, can't be defined, can be truly and absolutely experienced. Bliss above, beyond all sensing, pure consciousness, the substratum of all attributes yet devoid of any and all (attributes), the entire Presence, and the entire Absence.

Insight: Desani demonstrates again and again his great capacity for learned commentary based on his study and assimilation of ancient Indian writings, thought, religion, philosophy, history, and art. To say his knowledge, and more importantly, his understanding dates back to prehistory, say, at least 5000 years, is an understatement. His genius is to bring this to a focus for his readers in that when he writes something, makes an observation, there is behind that a synthesis of ancient thought and real life experience, plus practiced applications of extreme esoteric methods, rituals, and the like, into a finely cut gem that he presents with his assessment of a situation.

Desani created literature. When he describes in detail his country of origin, the people come alive on the page in all their sordid meanness, greed, their filth, their follies, their triumphs and failures, their beauty, cleverness - all of it is put on display. Yes, its a sordid mess mixed up with high art and beauty and love and short he shows humanity as it really is. Yet, in the end, he maintains his detachment and with a twist works in great Truths about Reality, Time, Space, Metaphysics and the like. In the end the alert reader having been completely wrung out, is dumped pell mell into profound silence known as Kaivalyam there to deal with it as best possible. Writes that Silence is G_d. Literally. That experiencing Kaivalya as the Buddha did is a kind of death. Further writes that Buddhism is India's greatest export [contribution to the world].

Desani is acutely aware of the problems of the Indian people and freely compares other cultures. He pulls no punches and it comes across clearly that he considers India a third world country badly in need of reform focused on supplying the basic needs of communities beginning with sanitation. He considers the ways of western countries far superior when it comes to sanitation, governance in general, and methods to address problems that arise from explosive population growth.

I doubt there is anyone alive on Earth who is capable of dealing honestly, forthrightly, with the Nadi writings in the way that Desani did. The sad truth is these writings and most of the "world view" therein presented will pass into history unappreciated unless spiritual awareness and growth become ascendant. Consider that has been in existence for decades and to my knowledge no one has come forward that has the capacity to appreciate and further Desani's work - other than Mr. Katz himself, of course. People say diamonds, precious stones, life itself as we know it, existing on planets orbiting suns across the galaxy, the cosmos, are rarities. No! What is rare is appreciation for Truth itself, for the Real itself, for those concomitants of consciousness, Love, Beauty, Wisdom, Liberty, Truth, and, finally, for Love of God.

Finally, as I've mentioned several times there is a 'lost' manuscript of Desani's called "Rissala". I am reliably informed that the "Very High and Very Low" columns are a major part of that manuscript.

*Samuel Beckett "Waiting for Godot"

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Silence or Kaivalya

 I couldn't be more alone if I were the entire Universe.

One needs a lifetime to let that sink in.

And this: You come before your maker in humility. Satan argues with God. [Is it true that "Israel(ite)" means, translates as, one who does battle with the Deity (G_d)?]

And this: For every flower of love and charity he plants in his neighbor's garden, a loathsome weed will disappear from his own, and so this garden of the gods – Humanity – shall blossom as a rose

It was Plotinus who said man's existence and search for meaning and truth was the "flight of the alone to the alone". This reminds me of a similar line from T.S. Eliot's Little Gidding, "...the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time". So, to be a fully self realized person, it happens, requires a kind of mystical vision, is a mystical union.

The "One" of the ancient Greek Philosophers, of Plato, does not have existence in itself. Rather, it is that from which being emanates and though immanent in the Platonic Forms, necessarily has no separation and thus no being in itself. Being requires separation, requires temporality, requires dimensions. The One is eternal, not temporal, non-dimensional. And, it is not a noun, a thing, a person, a place. It is verbal. Realizing this requires the knower join with the known as knowing itself, again, in a kind of mystical union. [Its not a noun, its a verb.]

Tricky language. Language of poetry and philosophy are similar. They take the Soul to a precipice. You must make the leap....or not.  Afterwards how you got to the jumping off place is irrelevant. All that matters is you took the risk.

Cold, lonely, indifferent. Void. Silence. The Alone. There's "No Exit". That is the dark side. Don't give in to that aspect. Yet, according to Buddhism, realizing "enlightenment" is to achieve the profoundest Silence called Kaivalya or Kaivalyam. This "Silence" can't be explained, must be "experienced" yet is beyond experience. To see an image of the Buddha sitting in meditation gives a hint at the procedure. Words are worthless, an impediment.

But, only when you realize you are already there do you arrive. Mystical union, indeed. The banks of the river widen as you approach the ocean and ultimately embrace that with which they merge. Life is that river. Physical form is like the receding banks, yielding life to its origin.

This type of contemplation is intended, necessary, for us to shed our dualistic nature. It is, of course, seen as nonsense by most. I get that, but the effect is a cessation of our natural tendency to want to grasp, to "own" Truth, Love. Truth is transfigured through Love and Beauty. By Liberation one can see right through Beauty and/or Love to the Real itself, to Truth.

I don't think satori, enlightenment, salvation, nirvana (nibbana) actually  lead to transcendence. The soul does not reach these after an actual journey. They are ours by Faith. Have Faith and "all these things will be added unto you". For these are gifts, not attainments, for those who have found the path of Bhakti, Love of the Lord. It is our sacred duty to simply wait on the Lord.

It is the Flight of the Alone to the Alone.

More on Cultural Epochs

 God descends into matter in order to re-emerge a self realized being. This is transfiguration on a cosmic scale.

Just beyond the fringe of our understanding true faith waits to take us from the sound of silence to the brilliant resonance of God's glory.

Consciousness' refinement from art through religion, science, history and finally philosophy is the process of awakening spirit as it extrudes (extricates or frees or liberates) itself from matter.


These are the general modes of man's being in the world, mere stages on life's way*. They do exhibit a progression. One merges nicely into the others. They comingle and represent the transfiguration of (inert) matter into self realised consciousness which this writer postulates to be a sufficient meaning and purpose of the whole cosmic activity.

R.G. Collingwood, the original author of this scheme, thought philosophy the natural culmination of the stages. Art, Religion, Science, History are the foundations or building blocks of that over arching structure, a fractalization. That is, each epoch, stage, is a reiteration of its precedent, slightly altered, modified, as in a tree where the twig is a modification of the trunk.

The purpose of Art is beauty and it asks man's first question of the world. Who am I, and why? The purpose of religion is transfiguration. Man is a kind of becoming. The incomplete reaches for an ever distant fulfillment. The purpose of science is the apotheosis of knowledge but science only and ever lacks answers for each answer leads to further questioning. The purpose of History is utopia. So, beauty becomes transfiguration becomes complete knowledge becomes utopia, which these share, always being just over an ever receding horizon.

Philosophy teaches that we stare into the abyss+ - and are surprised to find it stares back with what some would claim is a deathly grimace. That is, the world is strangely bereft of true hope as we are seemingly on our own here.

The biggest mistake is, in the western world, christianity simultaneously embraces and rejects God's covenant with man by misunderstanding man enjoys co-creator status. We own this (world). Were we not given dominion over the earth, according to the christian faith? What this writer has noticed is that christians tend to ruin the present with dreams of the future. Some would call this a sickness unto death*. I ask, since you have this dominion, when are you going to take charge?

This fatal flaw of christian doctrine permeates all subsequent permutations of the epochs and underpins the western culture and is fundamentally why we lurch from crisis to crisis. We increasingly live in chaos because we don't have a valid logic of the universe.

And, there may not even be a fathomable logic, at least not for humans. However, as the opening quotes are meant to illustrate, strip orthodoxy from christianity, or religion in general, and simply live by faith. That is the answer. Purpose and meaning will find you; they are self generating through the mechanism we call life.

Also, as learned through my mentor, G.V. Desani, if you only have one religion you have a partial view of reality. I'd expand on that to say that if you are stuck in one or another mode of being as described here as cultural epochs, you likewise only have a partial view.

We struggle not in vain and reaching one summit we ought all to be gratified there is always on the horizon an even greater mount.

+ Friedrich Nietzsche

*Soren Kierkegaard


Friday, April 01, 2022

Cultural Epochs


There is nothing that can be said that can do more for understanding the full meaning and purpose of life (enlightenment) than what a finger pointing at the moon can do for 'seeing' the moon. Zen proverb

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of man (kings). Proverbs 25:2

You ere if you mistake mere measurement for understanding. Acquarius

Paleolithic man saw the birth of Art. There is a premonition of Religion in all art but it was Neolithic man that saw its emergence. In our own social memory it was the Greeks that brought the epoch of Science into the world. History found its feet a mere century or two ago so the next phase can hardly have begun. The diagram serves to illustrate the phases of man's becoming awareness, some would characterize it as his apotheosis.

Art doesn't, can't articulate that the real is a self manifesting first principle but beauty itself contains this germ. Being itself is a fundamental idea with the power to self manifest. It is potentiality with the power to actualize and the present is a realization or actualization of the past and future which are potentialities. Beauty is the primal element of the noosphere. Of art music lives in the moment but its yearning is for the next moment. It is the essence of restlessness, of finding completion in the infinite regress of the horizon beyond the now. This restlessness characterizes all subsequent modes of being discussed.

The christians generally can't get past their feelings of guilt. Guilt is the father of anger, hatred, self loathing. Salvation is the undoing of guilt through forgiveness, redemption. Guilt is self loathing and makes it difficult if not impossible to achieve blamelessness through self sacrifice, to accept the self as sacred.

Speaking of science, if knowledge is always knowledge of something, then only reason leads to knowledge. All knowledge is through sense perception and memory. Direct knowledge, intuition, noesis, is not based on experience. So, science is strictly material in nature and its main flaw is in the non-material nature of understanding. There is understanding not based on knowledge. Science would never postulate or understand that matter conveys individuality and form universality.

It may be true that the whole is in some sense the same thing repeated endlessly, as Nietzsche is said to have thought. After all, for instance, all words come from the same alphabet yet somehow its possible to infinitely rearrange them in order for the New to constantly emerge. It might be more accurate to say that every instance of the Real is an elaboration of its predecessor or antecedent, similar to fractals.

This scheme is of course the brain child of R.G. Collingwood. His book Speculum Mentis is a beautifully written discourse on the subject. I've written about him several times here. A search of Collingwood results in seven items so I won't link to them. I'm doing this addendum because I wanted to include the above diagram.

What is suggested by the stages is that there is an end within, Aristotle's entelechy. This end within manifests first as Art, then Religion, and so forth. With each stage the end within changes. The artist gives beauty while the religious aims at union with a deity. The scientist works for the most elegant theory, expression of understanding of the world. The idea of history is that by stages the culture of man is perfected over time. The original beauty of artistic expression is still there but has evolved to encompass all that culture entails.

The end within an acorn is, of course, an oak tree. But if you make boards of the oak then the end within the acorn becomes, for instance, a table, among myriad other possibilities. The end within an acorn is also a stump, or fire for the hearth. This is a decent metaphor for the cultural epochs which is our subject here. The oak dreams of the acorn. The acorn dreams of the oak. The stump lives in them both.

Sentient life forms are an end within. Of what is unknowable but some understanding might be possible. What is knowable, I guess, is that it just started [on this planet] and given the expected life span of the sun has 4.5 billion or so "years" to manifest. Who are we, or what? Where did we come from? Where are we going? What is our purpose? Meaning? Any certain knowledge of these is not attainable. What is attainable is a gradual revelation of beauty, of truth, of love, of the end within. Cultural Epochs are expressions of the emergence of these qualities. How are we different from a rose in bloom..."such frost white felicity to shame the moon" * . Consider that before the emergence of man, of sentient life forms, beauty, truth, wisdom, liberty, love, did not exist but were in the rocks crying out, as it were. The whole of creation is an aspiration, a yearning, longing, a church spire reaching, a pine pointing, to these concomitants of consciousness to be made explicit.

Plotinus is said to have thought that existence, life, is a flight from the alone to the alone. Alone to alone equals a null. Yet even in this nothing exists flight, flight from one make believe to a somewhat different make believe. Its a journey, a process, so flight is all, totally encompassing, the point of departure being the same as the point of arrival. The Real is not a state, it is a becoming. Every attempt to own it begins from a false premise. One only owns things.

Think of T.S. Eliot: "We shall arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." From Little Gidding

* G.V. Desani wrote this.



"Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves. " Churchill

Category error: Every assertion has built in premises, assumptions about the nature of the Real. If the assumption is wrong, then the containing assertion or claim can't be right. In philosophy and formal logic, and it has its equivalents in science and business management. Category Error is the term for having stated or defined a problem so poorly that it becomes impossible to solve that problem, through dialectic or any other means. Our experience, connection to the Real, as embodied, individualized, localized beings is the first of these. Dan Simmons

"This finding adheres to a general pattern that imagining a given action or sensation is likely to be neurologically analogous to physically carrying out that action or experiencing that particular stimulus." Link

"That's why we're here: the passing of time has no meaning unless experienced by conscious beings." James Lileks

…or consciousness, truth, beauty. Time and these are universal but must be individualized, localized to be meaningful.

God hides in plain sight. He does not do the things man does, think, etc., but he is (there) when we do them.

Michael Hanlon on theory of "pocket universes" This sounds a lot like Aristotle: "If it is allowed by the basic physical laws (which, in this scenario, will be constant across all universes), it must happen. This idea from the Multiverse theory. And from Michael Hanlon on string theory: "The many worlds interpretation of quantum physics….states that all quantum possibilities are, in fact, real. When we roll the dice of quantum mechanics, each possible result comes true in its own parallel timeline. If this sounds mad, consider its main rival: the idea that reality results from the conscious gaze. Things only happen, quantum states only resolve themselves, because we look at them. As Einstein is said to have asked, with some sarcasm, would a sidelong glance by a mouse suffice?"

Me: The north pole can't be definitely located, seen, but we know its there.

Hawking: If Einstein's general theory of relativity is correct, the universe began with a singularity called the big bang. Now because it was a singularity, all the laws of physics broke down. And therefore we cannot predict how the universe began. A few years ago I was at a conference on cosmology that was held in the Vatican. And at the end of the conference the participants were granted an audience with the Pope. The Pope said it was fine for them to inquire into the early history of the universe, but they should not ask questions about the big bang itself… because that was the work of God. However, at that conference I proposed that Einstein's general theory of relativity would have to be modified to take quantum mechanics into account. And that modification would mean that there was no singularity. Space time would be finite in extent, but with no singularities. In this picture, space time would be like the surface of the earth. It's finite in extent, but it doesn't have any boundary or edge or singularities.


The universe… the universe would have a beginning and an end in the same sense that degrees of latitude have a beginning and an end at the north and south poles respectively. There isn't any point with a latitude 91 degrees north. And similarly, there isn't any point in the universe which is before the big bang. And the, but the north pole is a perfectly regular point of the earth's surface, it's not a singular point. And similarly, I believe that the big bang was a perfectly regular point of space time. And all the laws of physics would hold at the big bang. And if that is the case, we can completely predict the state of the universe from the laws of physics.


I think it's an open question as to whether we will find a complete unified theory. All I can say is that we don't seem to have one at the moment.


We may never find a complete unified theory, but I think that there is a 50-50 chance that we'll do so by the end of the century.


In principle, but not in practice. Because the equations are very difficult to solve in any but the simplest situations. We already know the laws of physics that underlie the behaviour of matter in normal circumstances. So in principle, we should be able to predict all of physics, all of chemistry and biology. But we've not had much success in predicting human behaviour from mathematical equations.

My commentary: Science posits the Real, the source of meaning and purpose, in an absolute other. It's over the horizon and is called something like "complete unified theory" and would resolve the general theory of relativity with the (theories of) quantum mechanics, the physics of the very large with that of the very small. There are no concrete objects, but waves in force fields. Every discovery leads to new postulates as the absolute other is approached but never quite reached. Like going the speed of light requires ever more energy as one approaches light speed, to make the final leap requires all the known energy in the universe. I postulate that to calculate the grand unified theory similarly requires ever greater calculus and that eventually you run out of calculus coincidentally at the same moment you reach the ultimate theory. Ironically the evidence can't be finally owned because it hides in plain sight. You can't find it because the premise you don't already have it is false.

What's interesting is the notion that if its possible it will eventuate. Aristotle postulated this, too, and noted that unimaginable horrors were necessary conditions. Also notable is the absence of anything not quantifiable from these types of proceedings. Sean Carroll, for instance, dismisses philosophical insights relating to consciousness, the soul, and religious notions of transfiguration, for instance, as flowery speech. Science generally doesn't consider anything that can't be measured. Thus measurement becomes the sine qua non of knowledge. But knowledge isn't the only path to understanding. Indeed it can be an impediment. It seems to me a grand unified theory would actually account for time, beauty, love, truth, and such coming to have meaning when actualized in a field of consciousness of a sentient life form. My personal grand notion, call it theory if you want, is consciousness is the instrument of the soul and the issue of Grace working through the emotions, through mind, to affect the apotheosis of matter.

If that's too much to swallow then here is a simpe formula that is known to work: "Praise no day until evening, no wife until buried, no sword until tested, no maid until bedded, no ice until crossed, no ale until drunk."

Is it really cold empty nothingness? When we "Gaze steadfastly at stars which though distant are yet present to the mind" do we bring the star to the mind or realize the star where it is as already in "our" mind? I've lost my note on who first made this observation though Parmenides made a similar statement. Another interesting notion in this regard is from quantum physics, reality results from the conscious gaze. I'd suggest James Lileks has it right when he says "Thats why we're here: the passing of time has no meaning unless experienced by conscious beings." Replace "time" with space, or for that matter beauty, truth, love, God, or, The Whole Universe, and we might realize we confer individuality on much more than just this body in which we find ourselves. The Universe might consist mostly of the void which, as Nietzsche sagely observed, begins to stare back at those pondering, at length, its depths, but its an interesting void.

Ponder the incomprehensible Otherness of the opposite...
woe has its wisdom, sorrow enlightens the soul.

We are all Don Giovanni


Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Vol. I

The overture begins with certain deep, earnest, uniform notes. Then we hear for the first time, infinitely far away, a hint which yet, as if it had come too early, is instantly recalled, until later one hears again and again, bolder and bolder, louder and louder, that voice, which first subtly and coyly, and not without anxiety slipped in, but could not force its way through. Sometimes in nature one sees the horizon thus heavy and lowering; too heavy to support itself, it rests upon the earth, and hides everything in the blackness of night; a single hollow rumble is heard, not yet in movement, but a deep muttering within itself-then one sees at the farthest limit of the heavens, remote on the horizon, a flash; swiftly it runs along the earth, and is instantly gone. But soon it comes again, it grows stronger; for a moment it lights up the whole heaven with its flame, in the next the horizon seems darker than ever, but more swiftly, even more fiery it blazes up; it is as if the darkness itself had lost its tranquility and was coming into movement. As the eye in this first flash suspects a conflagration, so the ear in that dying strain of the violin has a foreboding of the whole intensity of passion. There is apprehension in that flash, it is as if it were born in anxiety in the deep darkness-such is Don Juan's life. There is dread in him, but this dread is his energy. It is not a subjectively reflected dread, it is a substantial dread. We do not have in the overture-what we commonly say without realizing what we say-despair. Don Juan's life is not despair; but it is a whole power of sensuousness, which is born in dread, and Don Juan himself is this dread, but this dread is precisely the daemonic joy of life. When Mozart has thus brought Don Juan into existence, then his life is developed for us in the dancing tones of the violin in which he lightly, casually hastens forward over the abyss. When one skims a stone over the surface of the water, it skips lightly for a time, but as soon as it ceases to skip, it instantly sinks down into the depths; so Don Juan dances over the abyss, jubilant in his brief respite.


Dread is our energy. It is substantial dread. Despair is not what we feel it is our life powered by sensuousness born in dread. Our joy of life is the daemonic joy of life hastening over the abyss. On cessation we sink into the depths our joy not even a bright memory.

This is the gift of Christianity positing, as it does, personal fulfillment on an ever receding horizon infinitely removed from who we really are.


Without memory there is no Real.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Move to Word Press

To be found at Can also be found here, in web archive (way back machine)

Update April 2, 2022. I'm going to keep this active because problems with Wordpress. For time being sites will mirror each other.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Note on Epistemology

We're not supposed to know. Its a blessing that we don't. By Grace we are protected from knowing. Bliss depends on this. Such knowing that we would live our lives in its discovery vanishes the moment it is grasped. Because. Knowledge presumes object(s). What if there are no objects? Is knowledge always knowledge of? Grasping and knowing are similar. The desire to own. My knowledge! Certainty. Attraction. Who is the knower? The known? Are they the same? How to dissolve this clinging...

Discovery is the action of the unknown. The less you know the more you create.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Recent untitled poem

The rite of spring
riot of blooms
rout of cold winds, winter's bane
shivering bones
clattering in dismal dungeons dark

Violets are gone now
and iris and lily
bluebonnets take the stage
peerless blue to shame a cloudless sky

Pretty pink primrose too
takes the eye and
pink petal's secret promise folds
virgin thighs' blissful path

See me touch me
feel me smell me
please don't pick me
let me cast seed and wither and die

I'll be here every spring
past winter's baleful fling
and if you fail to come again
my bloom our last visit will ever contain

Of all I am the flowering sum
Pinnacle of the past
nadir of the future
purpose centered everywhere bounded nowhere

John Hinds