Saturday, February 23, 2013

Armed and Dangerous

In the ancient world, it was understood that the ordinary condition of people was one of delusion. In the wisdom traditions, this was encoded in various symbolic terms and allegories  -  but the underlying idea was that 'man is a stranger to himself' and lived in an unreal world of dreams and fantasies, which he mistakes for reality (for example, the Allegory of the Cave, in The Republic). And even though a person might have had great learning, skill and fortune, as long as s/he remained in 'ignorance', in this philosophical sense, this remained the case.

It seems to me that most of what passes for philosophy in this day and age is simply a way of rationalizing this state of affairs. Materialism, which is basically the rejection of any real philosophy, is the determination that the world of appearance is the only world, the real world, and that the conscious ego and the forces it can master is the real self. Any notion of a truth that has to be striven for or aspired to through self abnegation and renunciation is laughingly dismissed.

Those who propose this are what the gnostics call the 'somatics' or 'hylics'. They are the common man, the puttajana, the unreformed, the mass of people. The aim of post-Enlightenment philosophy seems to be making the world safe for the ignorant: enabling you to stay in your slumber of delusion, while enjoying the illusory pleasures that it provides to the utmost degree. Of course, this situation is completely unsustainable, and the source of a great deal of our current crises, large and small. But you can't explain this to anyone - because they don't really grasp what it is that they don't understand! Any attempt to explain it meets a barrage of fire which is designed to preserve the egoic illusion. And as this egoic illusion is now equipped with weapons of absolutely unprecedented potency, the world is indeed on a knife edge. We have generations of people who have no real idea of the distinctive nature of wisdom, yet who have the most advanced technology the world has ever seen.

One grand irony in all this is that science itself has actually seen through the delusion of materialism. Science has dissolved matter into probability waves, and realized that 'the observer' occupies the pivotal role in the creation of the world of appearances. So this materialism is no longer even really supported by the science that it trumpets to everyone. But try telling that to anyone - it is taboo, forbidden. The lords of this world won't allow it. So, the problem then becomes that materialist philosophy doesn't comprehend what it is ignorant of. As far as it is concerned, there is only scientific knowledge, even though it is by now obvious that the world itself, the entire arena of scientific discovery, does not contain its own ground or its own origin. The profound nature of this shortfall is not admitted, however. The best we have is 'fallabalistic and approximative hyptheses' which will forever be subject to falsification.

So in this mentality, the very absence of wisdom, in the sense of the vision of the eternal, is now called 'wisdom'. We are told to 'live in the moment' - quite a different thing to the 'eternal now' of the sage - because life is only a moment, a flash of light in the eternal blackness of the material universe. But those who propound this teaching have no idea of what it is they are criticizing, having never gone through the dedication and effort required to actually ask the question about the nature of ultimate reality properly. So they are teaching ignorance as wisdom. That is the nature of the age we live in.

It is interesting that I find the following statement in two completely different sources. The first is by A W Tozer, an American evangelical, but a very unusual and insightful one, in my opinion:

There are two spirits abroad in the earth: the spirit that works in the children of disobedience and the Spirit of God. These two can never be reconciled in time or in eternity. The spirit that dwells in the once-born is forever opposed to the Spirit that inhabits the heart of the twice-born. This hostility began somewhere in the remote past before the creation of man and continues to this day. The modern effort to bring peace between these two spirits is not only futile but contrary to the moral laws of the universe.

A W Tozer, The Once-Born and the Twice-Born.

Then I found this statement on a Sikh website:

It is repeatedly indicated in the Gurbani that there are only two different groups of people living together on earth: Gurmukhs (followers of Divine Hukam, Truth (ਸਚ), Wisdom of the Gurbani ...) and Manmukhs (deniers or opposers of Divine Hukam, Truth (ਸਚ), Wisdom of the Gurbani ...).

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