Saturday, July 27, 2013

Esoteric Christianity & the Anti-Christ

Saint George
Part of the problem with standing in the Western ruins involves clearing away the fog of spiritual war, which is deliberate and has the effect of turning the conflict into a free-for-all, in which chaos and confusion deepen demoralization. Rudolf Steiner’s work is important in any history of esoterism, however, his reliance on evolutionary terminology and concepts, and the deterioration of Theosophy/Anthroposophy following the acceptance by those movements on modernist or New Age categories of thought, make this a perilous project. Nevertheless, Steiner potentially gives Western minds the ability to cognitively “discern the spirits” and rightly “divide Thoughts”. Specifically, the work of Gemmdy Bondarev is helpful in accomplishing this.

Bondarev’s magnificent chapter on the Mystery of Good and Eviloffers a platform from which we can see what is happening upon the world stage, in a manner compatible to Christianized minds, given that the Anglo-Saxon & the Romanity blocks of mankind were given the task of developing man’s consciousness in a certain direction, thus giving them the Imperium but also exposing them to unique dangers. Corruptio optima pessimi, so they say.

In a nutshell, the teaching is this:

In this era, for which the Christ was necessary to guide and develop man’s increasing Luciferic impulses in the imagination and the growing Ahrimanic dominance of Number/Measure, the specific danger is that a New Trinity will be formed, not from Christ upholding Lucifer with his left hand (from falling into fantasy) and suppressing Ahriman with his right (from reducing everything to King Whirl and the God Number), but from the Asuric powers which will harmonize Lucifer and Ahriman in their own Anti-Christ, to replace Christ. The issue is as much about Higher vs. Lower, as it is, “Good” versus “Evil”.

The Asuras are demons (archai) of the lowest order of angels, spirits of sub-personal impulse, which will attempt at this moment in history the subversion of the Luciferic gift of the ability to choose between Good & Evil, and will use Ahriman to initiate or incarnate a one-world order or earthly paradise, in which man is made comfortable and easy in all of his animal impulses; thus the spiritual degradation will occur unnoticed, apace.
To those steeped in Tradition, this sounds not only plausible, but familiar.

Christ knew the danger of this moment, and His descent into hell was designed to redeem the possibilities of Lucifer and Ahriman (higher angelic powers) in order to maintain a balance, only accomplished under the higher “I”. The Asuras, by contrast, need man’s spiritual energies to be directed to lower, or sub-personal ends, in which man will become an animal, and eventually, lower than an animal. They are incapable at this time of being redeemed (they are Legion, and Christ sends them into the pigs), and will collapse during Cosmic Ascension into the “eighth sphere”, or the outer darkness, where there will be Aeons of gnashing of teeth and weeping, as no one knows (at this time) how they will be redeemed, or if anything of humanity they have carved out for themselves will survive this outer darkness to be Recapitulated when the Eighth Sphere is regained.

This is “feeding the Moon” on a vast scale, or something even worse. The Fathers dealt with these creatures in the deserts of the Thebaid, because these misguided angels need man’s energies either to survive at all or simply out of envy (no one really knows for sure – their intentions are not “enlightened”, even to the extent that Lucifer’s were). This lower order of fallen angels is purely demonic and sub-lunary. That is, they cannot expect to be mastered by man (as other fallen daemons may be capable of), but actually have to be “killed” or left behind. They are not nature spirits, angelic archons, or even “daemons”, but sub-personal demons who are seriously retarded, and have “evolved” by degeneration. It is their power that is evident and prime during the Kali Yuga

The prelude to Anti-Christ is the milieu of a coming earthly utopia in which life is made easy for Shudras and Out-Castes. These peoples identify with the Asuras. They reflect cosmology, by being parasitic, and needing the higher elements to be made lower, so that Life is made easy for them. However, unlike Lucifer or other fallen angels, who were the “gods” of the old myths, they are not “higher” than man in any sense, and it is doubtful whether they can be “taken with us”, so to speak, even on our terms. The Christian Tradition’s solution was to excise them totally, to separate from them. Modern esotericism entertains more hope. This is an interesting question: all agree that they are sub-personal. They may specifically be sub-personal, in particular, to the Western project of generating a sanctified Ego under the direction of Logos, an Ego capable of being “raised up”. This was the basis of the Super-Ego which dominated Western high culture until recently.
Evil acts when Good is exalted (although it appears the other way around to us in the Kali Yuga). Thus, the danger of man as he attempts to redeem his consciousness and integrate his lower and higher I (Alchemy) is that he is exposed to the action of the Asuric forces, in a false Trinity: this is the Reign of Quantity, or the Age of the Anti-Christ, or “Modern Times”. It is a necessary step with laws of its own, one of them being that Man has to be capable of discerning cognitively what is happening in order to clearly resist. 
Here is Bondarev on discerning the times, & it would apply interiorly, as well:
The earthly human ‘I’ arises through the combining of these ingredients: thinking, feeling and willing. They all owe their genesis to the earthly existence of man: the higher nerve activity, the sensations and perceptions and a certain unconscious, instinctive force – the will. All three ingredients have a positive and a negative pole: affirmation is opposed by negation, a positive feeling by a negative one, constructive will is opposed by destructive will or absence of will. All this has long been known to the traditional sciences. Spiritual science completes the picture by adding the knowledge of the personified nature of all psychic and spiritual manifestations of man – his qualities. When physiology speaks of the decay of nerve substance during the thought process, Anthroposophy provides in addition the teaching of ahrimanic beings, of their goals and world-mission. When psychoanalysis describes the ‘sludge’ in the soul and the various confusions arising in the human ‘libido’, Anthroposophy places over against this the teachings of the ‘Doppelgänger’-being dwelling in the sub-nature of man, and of reincarnation and karma. The conditions prevailing in the cosmos require of man that he should attain knowledge of the world-battle waged by the Gods against the luciferic and ahrimanic hordes. In this battle the highest God, who passed through death on earth and pointed the way to the final overcoming of the world-dualism of spirit and matter, is on the side of man. But man can follow Christ only in the ‘I’, for He is the God of the human ‘I’. This means that, in his ‘I’, which he lives out in the combined faculties thinking, feeling and willing, the human being should strive for the ideal of the higher life, which brings not impoverishment and loss but enhancement of self-consciousness and the wealth of individual being.
The spiritual elite will have to sharply “discern spirits” in order to brighten the Light sufficiently to discern the second coming of Christ, both to battle Anti-Christ, but also to accept and know Christ – too many Christians will think that the Anti-Christ is Christ himself, or be demoralized. Likewise, many of the esoteric high initiates in the West are like the misguided spirits, and cannot discern the possibility that they have not “arrived”. They are living in a “false heaven”, and are vulnerable to subversion. In fact, in the West, they have succumbed en masse.

This plays out in history, following the triumph of Christianity, as a second temptation:
The new epoch brings yet another problem. If we disregard mass culture, which is already in a terminal state of decline, and we turn to those who, in the face of all hindrances, have found through their connection with esoteric Christianity the strength and ability to balance the working of Lucifer and Ahriman through the impulse of the Christ – the God of the human ‘I’ who reveals Himself through the Holy Spirit when the human being overcomes everything that is national, tribal, racial – we find these people confronted now by the retarded spirits of time, the Asuras. They lie in wait for those who are striving towards the consciousness-soul and cause them to lower this into the sphere of the instincts. For this reason the Anglo-Saxon and German-speaking peoples, whose task it is to bring to birth the ‘I’ in the threefold soul, and who therefore have to master the consciousness-soul, and also those who turn to Anthroposophy, incur the greatest risk in the new epoch. Dangers have always lurked on the path of development, and this will always be the case. But if we expose ourselves to dangers, we should do so with understanding. It is a purely Asuric idea to want to build an earthly paradise where man is not exposed to any risks. The majority of people will be led in the new epoch to a certain degree of individualization. Intellectualism will increasingly become a possession of the broader masses, but for the sole purpose of harnessing these masses completely to mechanized culture, to the extent that the human being will be incorporated as an element into the various mechanical-cybernetic systems of the future, and also, in part, of the present. The ‘Highest’ to which man can look up will be, instead of the Spirit Self, ahrimanic immortality, while the most varied cybernetic-parapsychological refinements will spread over the earth, which not only prolong human life, but also rob souls of the possibility of passing through a spiritual evolution after death. In the last resort it will be possible to convey a not inconsiderable portion of humanity into the sphere of the electro-magnetic energies, the fallen ethers, in order on this foundation to build up an anti-world, an anti-cosmos, which will be placed over against the divine world creation.  The initiates of the Latin and the Anglo-Saxon race know of this and look upon such a perspective of development as being quite acceptable. But it is not given to them to understand and become conscious of the fact that there is no place in it for the human soul and spirit, as they are subject to the influence of ritual (ceremonial) magic. Already these people are the virtual rulers of the world. Must we keep silent about all this, and wait patiently for the events to unfold? – May every thinking person answer this question for himself. We owe a certain forbearance to the person who simply does not want to believe all this, who thinks that the world is moved by the chance fortuity of events and the play of arbitrary choice or of the noble intentions of human beings standing in isolation to one another. But it is quite different for those who have grown out of the swaddling bands of their social, political and occult infancy. They should on no account underestimate the significance of present events. Rather, they are such that their significance cannot be estimated highly enough. We are the witnesses and participants in a cosmic mystery drama, the course of which has an immediate bearing on our own destiny.
So we are in the middle of a morality/mystery play. Hence the popularity of such works as Harry Potter. Voldemort is coming back.

1. The goal of those who wish to stand should be to master themselves first of all. Guenon, the Church Fathers, traditional Eastern wisdom, and the insights of Western “mystics” all agree on this fundamental point of discerning the origin and arising of spiritual impulses. In the West, the emphasis on Logos was designed to structure and rule the mass of the inner world, providing a way of discrimination. No Western project will be able to do away with Dogma and Logos, both because of prior shaping and because of the unique Western task of integrating the lower I with the higher I, which implies not a retreat from matter, but its spiritualization. I don’t intend to debate or discuss whether the difference with the East is fundamental or a matter of perspective, as others are more qualified. For the beginning Westerner, it hardly matters, except to point out that Christianity is likely a more suitable vehicle for their climbing of the Ladder than anything else. Part of learning to stand is mastering the fear and fog of our currently engineered situation: God’s winds are still blowing; friends and enemies are not easily discerned, but they can be discerned. Use the Logos to help decide.

2. Secondly, the structuring of society in a Traditional order will have to occur, but it will have to be done voluntarily and in full spiritual freedom and insight. Establishing an outright spiritual tyranny, however desirable from the point of view of the alternative, will not work. However, this doesn’t mean that the accusations will not be made, even if Western man “returns”. As Westerners return to the Eternal Fountain, they will have every name in the Book hurled at them: Fascism, Totalitarianism, Elitism, etc. A patient ability to refute and answer and hold fast (Apologia) will be in order. We will be in the same position of the early Christians, who had to be ready at all times to give a gracious and seasoned answer for the hope within us.

3.Thirdly, one can see that the old religions are not irrelevant, since generic “initiation” doesn’t necessarily solve the problem on a grand scale, but rather opens one to the possibilities of subversion on the astral plane. The post-mortem state is still relevant, and indeed, may be a safer mode of spiritual transit (if Reason is allowed to guide the soul) than outright spiritual baptism during the Kali Yuga. In fact, one might even argue that Christianity is the religion par excellence of the Kali Yuga, in that it does not require elite knowledge, but only that a connection to such be vital (through apostolic succession, angelic influence, and/or esoteric Christianity). It may actually be a “shell” to protect a vulnerable and newly born “ego” for the post-mortem transit. Isn’t this precisely Evola’s point in regard to Roman Catholic theology?

4. Regarding Steiner, if Steiner’s “evolution” is seen as prior in Time, but not in logical priority (as Cologero has written is possible), or in terms of Inner Form, then his views of ascension are not necessarily New Age, but rather can describe the trajectory of man’s development during the dark Age of the Kali Yuga. It is unimportant that he has become a “movement” subject to degeneration: the Roman Church endorsed Vatican II, but this doesn’t mean that the war is over, or that all is lost.
The Chaos of the Asuras is allowed because it will deepen the strength and insight of the newly born Western Ego under Logos, to not only freely choose God, but to even pierce to the possibility of discerning Christ and Anti-Christ, which is a different task than discerning Good and Evil. The old liberal mindset sees only cardboard Good and cartoon Evil. In the coming storm, man will definitively be lead to choose between Higher and Lower, and maybe even Good and Best. Man will acquire Sophia, the gift of judging angels, and discerning/commanding demons.

In the Christian Tradition, we would say, God doesn’t want angels, but “sons”. Perhaps the innocent child, the Ego that looks up to the Heavenly Father, the “sheep of the personality” (Tomberg) is the only inner warrior capable of beginning combat in perfect humility against the infernal forces of the Kali Yuga.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Trivium & Mystery

Cologero’s translations have provided this gem, from de Giorgio:
“We could also call it “intuition” although no psychological quality is given to this term: the psyche in fact is below the spirit, the intellect, the heart—these three terms denoting, under three aspects, the same type of integrative activity of the divine. The spirit expresses the direct integration whose absolute type is the divine breath, the intellect expresses the cognitive permeation, the heart expresses radiant receptivity: by means of the first, one is elevated, with the second, absorbed, in the third, one is welcomed and realizes himself. Representing here a vertical axis, the spirit is the peak, the intellect the base, the heart the center that gathers the two extreme points and extends them, prolonging them horizontally, hence the Cross as radiant symbol of universality and unifying centrality.”
The intellect, the heart, and the spirit are One. I would like to relate this to the Trivium, in the Christian Western Tradition. The Trivium consists of grammar (which is emphasized first), then logic (which crops up second, as the pupil reaches puberty, which is age-appropriate), and finally, rhetoric, where the student begins to be the master of his knowledge, rather than being eternally dominated by Facts in a kind of Gradgrindism. Now, none of these occur without the other – even young children learn a form of rhetoric, in the form of songs and poetry and stories. It is merely that the emphasis of the logical progression occurs in an age more suited for it, while the other two categories receive only their due. If we were relating this to a knowledge of castes and Order (including internal order) we would say that the Spirit correlates to Fact, the Heart to Logic, and the Intellect to Rhetoric (for true self-consciousness is consciousness of the Master inside, allowing domination of both Self and Destiny). The Spirit initiates, or factualizes the supernatural; the Heart has its inner logic that we must learn to listen to; the Intellect realizes and epitomizes the power of the Invisible made Visible, the fruit of what has gone before.
This explains, by the way, the strange association of heart & head, the primacy of God’s calling, and the divinization of man within Supernature, becoming God’s equal by Grace.

I did not read this schema – it was obvious to me, latently so, when I read the passage above from de Giorgio. On the contrary, one might choose to say, at times, that the Spirit leads by an inner logic, the Heart creates a vision or rhetoric of the goal, and the Intellect deals with the “facts” the matter. I would reply – the student/pilgrim will at various stages emphasize different portions of their Trivium, and so a change of emphasis or the seeming appearance of a “shuffle” of responsibility in certain circumstances, does not destroy the analogy. The exception, in other words, should strengthen the rule: the analogy fits.
The Trivium was made explicit during the Carolingian period of Western civilization, and is surely cognate in some inner way to the doctrine of Trinity; if nothing else, reflection such as Augustine’s on the tripartite nature of the soul and its relation to the tripartite functions of the persons of God encouraged a numerical attention to Three. Adding this to the Quadrivium produces a perfect number, Seven.  There were, of course, ancient Pythagorean doctrines (derived from Egypt) which taught ruler-ship by the Hebdomads or Sevens. It should be unnecessary to point out that the medievals would have seen significance in Four Gospels, Three Persons of the Trinity, Two Natures in One Christ, and the Divine Unity.

Are the “Three” related to the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood of Saint John?
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
One of the discouraging things I see in Christianity is an inability or unwillingness to reconsider previous meditations in light of new ones. Are the liberals the only ones who are allowed to be daringly adventurous, since the Fathers who wrote the Philokalia have not their like today?

For instance, we might ask ourselves, as Christians, more than just where the revelations to Adam or Enoch went. We could even ask more than whether Guenon was right to argue that Christianity was just one vehicle or aspect of the Tradition, or whether men like Jean Borella are right to criticize Guenon as a “Judaizer” of sorts (the answer to this is mostly irrelevant to the spiritual level that most Christians, or most people, for that matter, would find themselves at in this life). My belief is that, in looking for correspondences in other religions (if done in obedience to the Spirit), Christians will be strengthened and surprised in ways that intensify the experience of their own Tradition, if it is kept rich enough. Who, for instance, is the Sophia in Proverbs? We have an advantage in our Era, in that, certain questions having been tentatively elucidated and put forward, the modern situation is such that no conclusively binding regulation on conscience has been reached by the Faith. Perhaps we are missing great opportunities here?
I will suggest something else for those who are interested in esoteric Christianity. During Pentecost, each person heard the sermon of Peter in their own tongue. Since Pentecost only recapitulates what had already happened  I would like to posit, as a means of reconciling the findings of Nag Hammadi with Orthodoxy, that Jesus’ inner circle of discipulos each heard the Christ speaking in the language of their soul certain secret sayings known only to them. Whether this occured at once, or whether it was done mystically, or one at a time, we take it at face value what the Gospels and other texts confess: that these are the sayings of Jesus given to this or that one of the disciples. In other words, each was given the “One” in a form that they could understand and pass on. The Synoptics look very much the same, book to book, but try reading Mark and then skipping to John.

This presents no problem for Christian theology, in that there may still be preserved four exoteric Gospels, perhaps (also) for that reason kept more accurately and therefore more reliably. This presents no problem for esotericism within Christianity, as it is not dependent on the Letter or written record in any case. But it does reconcile what we know about history and archaeology, in broad enough terms, to declare a peace with Tradition.

If Christians were more attentive to our own Trivium, we would have no need of Traditionalists to teach it to us, today. Or Gnostics, for that matter, real or imagined.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Never the Twain Shall Meet

Never the Twain Shall Meet

I chose to write on The Dark Cloud of Unknowing to illustrate something that is true that has been discussed here (that East & West are not divergent in Tradition). The author was an anonymous Englishman during the 14th century; ergo, a quintessential “Western” mystic on an isolated island in the West. It is unknown who he was, but it is thought he was in the East Midlands (based on his language). He came after Richard Rolle, and before Walter Hinton, and is roughly contingent with Julian of Norwich. On the Continent, during this time of the Hundred Years War & plague, the great German mystics also appeared. Europe was stirring with heresy, and the Reformation was not far off.

Romanides and Athanasios Bailey (whose Orla.Pubs is off the web now) maintain that the West lost the concept of “energetic” salvation; that is, the West favored a juridical model in which God “reckoned” righteousness or (prior to the Reformation) “declared” or “atoned” man into righteousness. This is the “ransom” theory that developed from Anselm. While we agree that certainly the deviations of Truth in the West have taken the form described by Romanides, we do not concur that the essence of Western Tradition is accurately described: the trend, perhaps, but not the essence or remnant (and there is always a remnant, Romanides should know this).

Specifically, the Frankish and Norman conquests of the West (followed by wars of conquest aimed at the Eastern Empire) are supposed to have caused the entire and widespread loss of genuine Christian understanding (and, given Eastern theology’s emphasis on right wisdom of God and categories of thought, any resultant vital Christianity). However, as we shall see, Western communions made use of negative theology, and were aware of the same dogmas which governed Eastern apophaticism, however much it may be granted that it received less emphasis the farther West one went. As one author points out, the more cataphatic Western theology has (as a safeguard against God-in-man’s-image) the idea that the Logos is the archetype of man’s Image. As an aside, I will note that the Eastern Church considers the 12th or 13th centuries an era in which sensual pleasure and softness enter the Western spirituality; the reply to this would be to note that while this is true, undoubtedly, it also came as part of the Troubadour movement, and could be viewed more positively (as Cologero has suggested) as a particular emphasis on Logos, peculiar to the West.

Additonally, John Scotus Erigena had translated Dionysius from Greek into Latin much, much earlier in the Isles, so the English had access to negative theology, which influenced the author of the Dark Cloud, and bore fruit in his treatise. It should be unnecessary to point out that the age of Cathedral building was founded on Dionysian theology, and had already taken shape.
No one can think of God. Therefore it is my wish to leave everything that I can think of  and choose for my love the thing that I cannot think. For while God may be loved but not thought. God can be taken and held by love but not by thought. Therefore though it is good at times to think of the kindness and worthiness of God in particular, and though this is a light and a part of contemplation, nevertheless, in this exercise, it must be cast down and covered over with a cloud of forgetting. You are to step above it stalwartly but lovingly, with a devout, pleasing, stirring of love and desire to pierce that darkness above you. You are to smite upon the thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love and do not cease no matter what happens. 6:130-131.

This, “For the love of Jesus is very well said.” For in the love of Jesus there is your help. Love is so powerful  that it makes everything one (common). Therefore love Jesus and everything that he has is yours. By his godhead he is the maker and giver of time. By his humanity he is the very keeper of time. And by his Godhead and humanity together he is the truest guide of the choice and use of time. Knit yourself then to him by love and by faith. And by virtue of that knot you shall be a familiar partner with him and with all who are so knitted to him by love… 4:366-373. The example of all this is shown in the life of Christ. PC23:24.170  Mary models the way of contemplative prayer. So she hung her love and her longing desire in this cloud of unknowing, and learned to love what she could not see clearly in this life by the light of understanding in her reason, nor truly feel in the sweetness of love in her affection; so much so that she paid little attention to whether she had been a sinner or not. Yes! And so often I think that she was so deeply affected in the love of the Godhead that she scarcely noticed the beauty of his precious and blessed body as he sat so handsomely speaking and teaching before her. It seems from the gospel that she was oblivious to anything else either bodily or spiritual. XVI: 834-842
The author makes the same energy/essence distinction that the Eastern Church makes: we never become God by nature, but only by grace.
Rather than “the Jesus prayer”, we instead have this:
“Schort preier peersith heven.”
(This, by the way, would even find an echo in the Puritan theology of “Heaven Taken by Storm”).  The use of one syllable words like “God” or “Love” are recommended for unceasing prayer, which builds on confession and regular meditation on revealed mysteries.
It is preferable to meditate on God’s goodness, rather than one’s own sin (contra-Calvinism), since whatever one thinks about “sits between” God & the self, although he does not deny that exoteric or ordinary religious meditation lays a foundation from which to build true contemplation, by God’s grace, later on, which is given regardless of merit or dis-merit, but according to desire.
Thinking may not goodly be getyn withoutyn reding or heryng comyng before…Ne preier may not goodly be getyn in bigynners and profiters withoutyn thinkyng comyng bifore.
How will they believe, if they have not heard? He suggests that many are against contemplation, and have a false humility (thinking that their piety is perfected as high as may go in exoteric meditation) because they are simply unaware of any higher path (they have not heard, and are deceived in imagination). So this is a defense of the esoteric or contemplative way, but he preserves their unity by arguing that the higher active path & the lower contemplative path are actually the same path. Additionally, he links these three paths with the “beginner”, “proficient”, & “perfect” which we see used by Garrigou-Lagrange in his small work on Christian conversions.

I will also note some affinity in this work with later Western development in Pierre-Caussade’s Sacrament of the Present Moment.  I believe that one could take Western manuals such as these (while recognizing legitimate shortcomings and criticism) and build an impressive library of religious contemplation that would bear and stand comparison with modern day Eastern modes or models.

The point is not to say “nu-uh, we have it too” but rather encourage Western readers to look deeper into their own tradition – not without reason is it said (not to our honor) that prophets are not without honor, except in their own country.  But why go so far East? Surely there are far spiritual and physical countries at hand, who have more elective affinities with our background, that remain, yet, Christian?

The author of The Cloud advocates two interesting strategies for overcoming mental “thoughts” and entering into love. Firstly, one can “look over the shoulders” of the daily thoughts which crowd you, focusing on something beyond them, while not obliterating them directly. Secondly, one can “cower down to them and surrender to them”. This last strategy is particularly recommended by him as a means of annihilating the enemies, for God will swiftly come to the rescue of His children who lie helpless before a wild boar. Additionally, this keeps the Ego from getting involved in combat, which only “messes things up” (according to this mystical author).

He is not advocating Quietism (since one continues outward religious observance) but, rather, the attention to thoughts: observing their arrival with discretion and judgement, a practice that is fundamental, say the Fathers of the Philokalia. One surrenders to the interior work of God, while exercising patience and obedience outwardly. Again, we see that Christianity is in this sense, martial, since the soldier maintains discipline in a fight which is not necessarily (even by esoteric standards) appearing to go well. Hope is instead placed in the action of Grace, rather than merely the enhancement of Nature. This is the Christian legacy, both inwardly and outwardly.

The author also translated Dionysius’ Divinitie Hid, & wrote several other treatises, which quote Augustine, Aquinas, Aristotle, and Richard St. Victor (placing him within the European stream). Those who will pursue God through “un-thinking” Love will end up grasping many intellectual mysteries along the way, and the Love we have is passive only towards God : it actively overcomes discursive thought (placing all creatures whatsoever in a “cloud” of forgetting) and is naked only towards God, being active in the sense that it moves instinctively back to the source of all Being, God who exists by Nature in the state we must attain through Grace alone.

The same attention to thoughts that is recommended in other Traditions is found here, embedded within the Christian tradition.
…If a man happened to be your deadly enemy and you heard him cry out with such terror, in the fulness of his spirit, this little word “fire!” or this word “out!” you would have no thought for his enmity, but out of the heartfelt compassion, stirred up and excited by the pain expressed in that cry, you would get out of bed even on a night in mid-winter, to help him put out the fire, or to bring him comfort in his distress. O Lord, if a man can be moved by grace to such mercy and compassion for his enemy, his enmity notwithstanding, what compassion and what mercy will God have for the spiritual cry of the soul welling up and issuing forth from the height and the depth, the length and the breadth of his spirit, which contains by nature all that a man has by grace, and much more!.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Philokalia's Martial Character

The Philokalia’s Martial Character

“What struck me on the beach–and it struck me indeed, so that I staggered as at a blow–was that if the Eternal Principle had rested in that curved thorn I had carried about my neck across so many leagues, and if it now rested in the new thorn (perhaps the same thorn) I had only now put there, then it might rest in everything, in every thorn in every bush, in every drop of water in the sea. The thorn was a sacred Claw because all thorns were sacred Claws; the sand in my boots was sacred sand because it came from a beach of sacred sand. The cenobites treasured up the relics of the sannyasins because the sannyasins had approached the Pancreator. But everything had approached and even touched the Pancreator, because everything had dropped from his hand. Everything was a relic. All the world was a relic. I drew off my boots, that had traveled with me so far, and threw them into the waves that I might not walk shod on holy ground.” Citadel of the Autarch, Gene Wolfe
We’ve been given, as Christians, and have accepted, as fools, a very impoverished reading of Scripture, one in which Jesus emerges as someone so milquetoast that He wouldn’t dare overturn the money-changing temples and bureaucratic stalls of Liberaldom or secular Democracy, could He by fickle mishap, arrive today. In a perverted sense, this is entirely true, for even this “phase” (degenerative as it may be), must exist entirely and utterly (though not self-consciously) of His will, alone. As Cologero points out, this period of chaos must have Laws which govern it as well, just ones we’re not as used to noticing. Yet, when the man comes around, the rules will get a lot less murky, quickly. There’s a huge difference between God in heaven giving man time, and God descending to sort it out.

As for these difficult-to-discern-patterns of the Kali Yuga, could it be that part of the reason the Bourgeois Period is still alive and kicking is that ignorant men, latently of the brahminic or warrior caste, deliberately and desperately support it, seeing quite clearly the huge gap between the Third Estate epoch & the epoch of the Shudra and the Outcast? After all, the merchant class is still “objective”, at least; the Shudra is neither objective, nor free. Not seeing the huge gap between the Third Estate and that of their own (since it is unrealized), they volunteer to wage the struggle to stave off the tidal wave. This seems to be Mencius Moldbug’s conclusion in this piece of punditry, for instance:
Moreover, the fascist militarists who actually do this job are some of the best men in America.  American communism, for obvious reasons, loves to send America’s best men to Afghanistan to get their private parts Osterized by fertilizer bombs.  This is American war since 1945: State solving the problem of how it can get DoD to stick its d— in a blender.  Solving it rather well, I’d say.  Many of America’s best men are in the Pentagon, and good men know how to obey, and into the blender goes that d—.  Still, much testicle remains.
How long will the warrior caste (even more so those imitating it, either out of malice or virtue) be content with propping up a “country” designed to make life easy for the worst specimens of humanity? Now extending its obligation (and therefore, its power) to the entire planet? We shall see – there are a lot of soldiers returning from the Middle East.

Also, it seems clear to me that the Spirit behind modern culture, for obvious reasons, wants to convince those who are formally, latently, or partially (if not truly) Good that Good and Evil are illusions, and that in the name of some catch-phrases like Equality & Tolerance, Life ought to be made easier for everyone, even those who really aren’t aware of anything above them, even their conscience. Isn’t this what Evil would say to Good? That in reality, the distance between us is an Illusion? Something Jesus said comes to mind:
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16:8)
Could it be that the Revolutionaries have long known (better than most) that seeing into the Nature of man is pre-requisite to changing things? Granted, they can only imagine that Good exists because of sluggish inertia, that it couldn’t last, except as an inherited accretion and knee-jerk reflex (which of course, sees things backwards, given that most people engage in Evil for precisely this reason). But they have been adept at manipulating the remnants of the castes to achieve their end. Have you taken a literary criticism class, lately? All you read is literature of perversion and revolt. Take Sarah Kane, for instance. Every effort is being made to extend the suffering of our “elites” through the “middle” and to unite that suffering with the lower castes. I saw a sign on a church recently which, against all odds, was actually apropos: “While we play Church, God’s creation becomes more corrupt.” The Bible Belt itself is not as well off as it appears.

What would a Frankish noble have done if confronted with the modern world? Undoubtedly, after a tour through both prison and mental health facilities, he would have emerged much wiser and more cautious of General Law. He would (in fact) lay plans with a prudence and cunning that would complement his innate qualities, and guarantee a larger success in the long run. On the other hand, the qualities he has innately, I lack. What can I learn from him, and where can I learn it? As noted above, there is the possibility of learning from our enemies, in that we see by negative example, how they employ means to ends and discern what is best for their kind.

But there is much more for those who wish to transcend the purely Mephistophelean character of the clever Revolutionary, the spirit who negates, the composting bacteria which works among those whose souls die before they ever learned they had them:
With Faust, the Romantic rebellion breaks out in full force.  At the outset, the poem promises to take the reader “from Heaven through the world to Hell.”  Note the inverse direction.  And still less than Paradise Lost does Faust portray a coherent universe.  A scene in a student hangout, a seduction drama, the spectacles of the first and second Walpurgisnacht, Faust’s adventures as general, artist and civil-engineer-cum-dictator – all this does not add up to a comprehensive portrayal of human life.   The flames of Hell, briefly glimpsed, are taken about as seriously as in a comic strip; while Heaven (complete with a “old guy” Deity at whom the urbane and sophisticated devil thumbs his nose) is but the self-serving reflection of a middle world where the amoral have their way.  Unlike Dante’s journey, Faust’s is the opposite of instructive.  At the end the hero has destroyed the world and learned nothing, the angels confuse his ruthlessness with aspiration; and the author himself seems to have unlearned whatever awareness of right and wrong he may have had at the outset.   The final scene of Faust appears meant to contradict the scene at the summit of Purgatory where Beatrice insists on confronting Dante with his peccadilloes:  “A high law of G-d would be broken if Lethe were passed and such food tasted without some toll of remorse that sheds tears.”  Faust does not have to say he is sorry; enters heaven in the company of unborn children, consciousness and conscience are effaced.   The Israeli scholar Rivkah Schechter is, I believe, right in seeing Faust as the prelude to Auschwitz.  
Hence, we turn to very particular texts, spiritual and literary and political, to nourish the awareness which we lack, which we horn-swoggled ourselves out of by accepting the Devil’s food when we should have been vigilant.
Law: mechanism which should be used in whatever way will generate the preferred result. Old fashioned law did too much to protect individuals from the social will. the mediocratic model avoids bourgeois notions such as principles or liberties. If the community believes someone should be punished, the legal system should not put obstacles in the way. The idea of providing protection for defendants from the state is no longer required, as modern state agents can be presumed to act on behalf of society rather than on behalf of an elite. Mediocracy believes in having as many laws as possible, but enforcing them selectively. This provides maximum flexibility, since harassment can be targeted at appropriate individuals. Fabian Tassano, Mediocracy
Christ the King told Satan to “get thee behind me” during the Temptation, which was the rough equivalent of a medieval king saying “away with you, you varlet!”. Then, and only then, did angels minister to him. One of the traditional Christian’s first tasks will be to learn not to accept a part in the inverted medieval passion play of the Spirit of the Age, but rather to wrestle with the powers and principalities (within himself, foremost) and force them to play the role in his own mystery play. For those “waking up”, seemingly innocuous things take on spiritual significance. They “manifest”. Do we wish to become cardboard characters, doomed to fire, in his play, or force him to step into our own?
Isn’t this the root of the “difficulty with Christianity”? Is it what it appears to be? It may look milquetoast, but this is an illusion. The regal-warrior spirit is carefully hidden in plain sight. Christ becomes a King by rejecting the world, the flesh, and the devil, by repulsing Satan’s attempt to get him to play a part in a play in which his lines were penned by Satan. Isn’t this what the Revolutionary narrative is all about? We may not know all, or even much, but we know enough. Enough to begin to resist the temptation.

Spirituality such as found in the Philokalia nourished the spiritual life of the Eastern Empire, & from them, flowed westward, even if indirectly. The Franks gladly submitted to the High King of Heaven: Chlodovechus exclaimed “Oh, if I had been there with my Franks!”. It’s possible to view this as an aberration and twisting of Aryan spirituality. But then, what do you do with such organizations as this? What about the Templars? Together, the Western tribes and the religion of Christianity created a fuller manifestation of Tradition (and corresponding higher aberrations, at times, when corrupt) than possible otherwise. Corruptio optima pessimi.

Here is practical advice from the Philokalia – it has the smell of authenticity, as it isn’t something one would “make up” on the spur of the moment. If one isn’t a Brahmin, then simply gain the appropriate insight and apply it to your own circumstances. For instance, knowing that some thoughts have a demonic origin is highly useful, no matter what caste you belong to. I think you will see that this corpus of spiritual teaching is anything but “sentimental” and “Semitic”. It is, in fact, triumphant and almost Promethean.
Similarly, anger, whether reasonable or unreasonable, obstructs our spiritual vision. Our incensive power can be used in a way that is according to nature only when turned against our own impassioned or self-indulgent thoughts. We must not therefore expend all our effort in bodily fasting; we must also give attention to our thoughts and to spiritual meditation, since otherwise we will not be able to advance to the heights of true purity and chastity.
If a man, still enmeshed in sin and anger, dares shamelessly to reach out for knowledge of divine things, or even to embark upon immaterial prayer, he deserves the rebuke given by the Apostle; for it is dangerous for him to pray with head bare and uncovered. Such a soul, he says, ought to ‘have a veil on her head because of the angels’ (cf I Cor. 11:5-7), and to be clothed in due reverence and humility.

Blessed is the monk who regards every man as God after God.

There are times when the demons suggest thoughts to you and then urge you to rebut them with prayer; whereupon they withdraw of their own accord, so as to deceive you into imagining that you have begun to overcome such thoughts and to rout the demons.

You should be aware of this trick: at times the demons split into two groups; and when you call for help against one group, the other will come in the guise of angels and drive away the first, so that you are deceived into believing that they are truly angels.

When the intellect attains prayer that is pure and free from passion, the demons attack no longer with sinister thoughts but with thoughts of what is good. For they suggest to it an illusion of God’s glory in a form pleasing to the senses, so as to make it think that it has realized the final aim of prayer. A man who possesses spiritual knowledge has said that this illusion results from the passion of self-esteem and from the demon’s touch upon a certain area of the brain.

Know that the holy angels encourage us to pray and stand beside us, rejoicing and praying for us (cf Tobit 12:12). Therefore, if we are negligent and admit thoughts from the enemy, we greatly provoke the angels. For while they struggle hard on our behalf we do not even take the trouble to pray to God for ourselves, but we despise their services to us, and, abandoning their Lord and God, we consort with unclean demons.

One who has attained dispassion has not necessarily achieved pure prayer. For he may still be occupied with thoughts which, though dispassionate, distract him and keep him far from God.

Undistracted prayer is the highest intellection of the intellect.

The warfare between us and the demons is waged solely on account of spiritual prayer; for prayer is extremely hateful and offensive to them, whereas it leads us to salvation and peace.

When the intellect has been perfected, it unites wholly with God and is illumined by divine light, and the most hidden mysteries are revealed to it. Then it truly learns where wisdom and power lie… While it is still fighting against the passions it cannot as yet enjoy these things… But once the battle is over and it is found worthy of spiritual gifts, then it becomes wholly luminous, powerfully energized by grace and rooted in the contemplation of spiritual realities. A person in whom this happens is not attached to the things of this world but has passed from death to life.
Ironically, there is a “martial” quality about the Philokalia, which is consonant with the “marching character” of Christianity, itself a religion (in many ways) that was military. The Church, after all, was “militant”. If it was (perhaps dubitably) a religion of the lower castes, nevertheless, it should be remembered that it was through the Roman army & Constantine, ultimately, that the religion won its victory over those, like Julian the Apostate, who wished to endorse Iamblichus and the NeoPlatonists rather than a religion. Christianity “chose sides” because it has a martial quality. I think this is the way to “resolve” the debate with neo-pagans: the Vedantic wing of Christianity wasn’t strong enough to preclude an all-out war against all “paganism”, so perhaps this should be rectified.

Yet Christ is a King, not merely a high priest. And the King is not mocked; He is no sentimentalist, but like a detached general, he awaits the inevitable outcome of His warfare. The King is Dead. Long live the King. The King is Coming. Life itself, the King.
“We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life—they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.”
Gene Wolfe, Shadow and Claw
The “Third Wave” of Christianity will come when Christians themselves reclaim their monarchic legacy, hidden in Scripture, of Christ as the prophet, priest, and king (warrior).  If we apply the insights of the Philokalia quoted above, we would conclude that the history of the West has been a very careful, selective seducement of a predominantly warrior-religion, designed to “set it up” for a final illusion. That is, the glories of the Renaissance and the wonders of Science and the blessed peace of secular humanism are analogous to demonically-induced spiritual states designed to convince the one who undergoes them that they are “favored” and have reached “deliverance”. However, there is still a chance that the victory of Logos in the West can be redeemed. That is, instead of the Divine withdrawing back into the Divine, the human can be drawn up into God (the aim of Christian warfare, which approaches the passions with warfare in an attempt to “possess” them for God). This can only happen if the West uses discernment to see that the Logos presented to it, of which it is most acutely aware, is to be sanctified to God & taken up.

Thus, Western Christians have to see, at one and the same time, both the limitations of its Tradition (a warrior-religion) and the timelessness of it (a true reflection of something Transcendent, which was worth defending, albeit with more wisdom). This will involve restoring the “Vedantic wing” of the Faith, which will include esoteric studies. All resurgencies, ill-fated or blessed, of Christianity have begun with the return to “Christ the King”.