Turning Back from the Gates of Hell

Your thoughts are burdened because you are influenced by the thoughts of your fellow men. Pray to the Lord that He might take this burden from you. These are the thoughts of others which differ from yours. They have their plan, and their plan is to attack you with their thoughts. Instead of letting go, you have allowed yourself to become part of their plan, so of course you suffer. Had you ignored the attack, you would have kept your peace. ~ Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

By ignoring Thaddeus’ warning, I succumbed to various malignant influences. Therefore, I need this rant in order to purge myself. I was intending to review the movie As Above, So Below, but I couldn’t make it last night. As far as I can tell from the trailers, some explorers discover the gate to Hell far below the streets of Paris and they find it terrifying. My personal experience is that the gate to Hell is quite easy to find and most people, not only are not fearful, but are attracted to it.

Belief and Knowledge

In a given person a belief system is that conscious/unconscious set of basic beliefs, assumptions, axioms, biases/prejudices, models, simulations which determine, at a given instant, decisions, actions, thoughts, feelings, motives and the sense of the real and the true. ~ Simulations of God, John C. Lilly, M.D

Nearly all people regard knowing as something like looking. That is, they see something out there right now and claim to know it. In other words, the sense impressions create an image which we “know”, somewhat in the way that animals know.

This position is called “naïve realism” and it is nearly impossible to eradicate in people. Nevertheless, the path to esoterism requires the reverse of this mistake so that knowing is grasped as going from inside out. That is, when I know something in the world, I am actually intuiting its essence, or idea, in the Divine Mind.

That is a simple idea, but the principle applies to more complex ideas. Now, ideas are hierarchical, each level encompassing more and more of reality from a higher level. There is a philosophical theory called “holism” that postulates that more complex wholes evolve from simpler forms.  The reverse is actually the case: more complex wholes create the simpler. Angelic intelligences are likewise hierarchical, with the higher orders grasping larger wholes.

As explained in the recent discussion of Hermann Keyserling, we can relate higher understanding to meaning. I wrote,

meaning is always in reference to a Self, not in the object. The exterior world takes on quite a different feeling once it is realized the extent that the Self understands it and invests it with meaning.

Notice that meaning comes with understanding; through misunderstanding, the world is experienced as meaningless. But that is intolerable. That is why ordinary man (hylic man and psychic man), holds onto a belief system, as Dr. Lilly describes. The effect is the world is misunderstood and its true meaning is obscured in a web of prejudices, etc., that are merely projections of his own thoughts.

Now, if you combine that with the naive realism of such men, you can see what happens. Believing he is experiencing a true picture of the world out there right now, he also experiences the very belief system he projected as similarly out there in the world. He is then completely so convinced that he understands the world objectively, that it is impossible to reach him with true knowledge.

The Doctoress and her Dogs

I recently heard from a doctoress from the Midwest who read my bibliophile post and was motivated to purchase Meditations on the Tarot. We had a brief exchange. Clearly she is a very intelligent woman. She majored in chemistry and became a physician, yet found time to study world religions. She even read Meister Eckhart. I recommended the Philokalia, which she had heard of. Yet, there was not much depth to her spirituality; I got the impression that, for her, the idea of reading such books was more important than actually understanding them.

Immediately, she turned to politics, explaining that she was a diehard liberal democrat and wanted to know my political views. A red flag went up. I know the type; the liberal belief system is so entrenched that she had no intention of pursuing a mutually intelligible conversation. Her goal was simply to dismiss me. I’ve noticed that, in such types, a spiritual emptiness is replaced with political action. There is a deep Manichean attitude replete with saints and sinners; for them, no conversation with the unsaved is possible, just a desire for their annihilation. How else can they explain how the actual world bears such scant resemblance to their entrenched beliefs?

Clearly, my own political opinions are virtually absent in the political dynamics in the USA; that is why I stopped writing on that topic. Nevertheless, hoping for the best, I gave her a detailed response. I explained that the spiritual has priority over the political, a position she associated with the Taliban. Obviously, the political is her simulation of god since every other value is secondary to it. She failed to grasp any subtleties, and accused me of being a republican, God forbid. Apparently in her understanding, beyond the liberal democrats there can only be an undifferentiated mass of republicans. She told me that democrats are for the “little guy”, even though little guys of European descent oppose them, views opposite to hers are “repugnant”, even though they are the teachings of her Catholic faith, and that she was glad to live in a democracy, even though decisions are made by the judiciary and the deep state.

I don’t want to litigate those claims here, but just to point out how predictable her comments were, certainly not indicative of any deep thought that her intelligence and education make her capable of. The real point is to demonstrate in a concrete way the psychic effects of naive realism. In a quite literal way there is an “animal faith” (in George Santayana’s words) in such a view that makes it seem simply too obvious to question.

Interim Conclusion

There can be no science of particulars, so I am not generalizing from one person to a more universal critique. There are those who may arrive at views similar to the Doctor’s in a more intelligent way and I have no gripe with them.

There is more material to the rant … the world’s supply of outrage is apparently inexhaustible. But that is for another day.

10 thoughts on “Turning Back from the Gates of Hell

  1. Note: I just realized that my last comment might be taken inappropriately. What I intended was that we all have something noble within, yet struggle with our “attitudes.”

  2. Jacob,

    It is useful to keep in mind the French words savoir and connaitre. Both mean “to know,” yet they are different kinds of knowing. We do not have the distinction in English unfortunately. The former is purely external and acquired, such as that which we read in a book. The latter is a higher form of knowing, one might say an intuitive knowing. For our purposes, we might call it gnosis.

    External knowledge is purely of this world, yet gnosis transcends this world. Thus an intellectual that reads widely and believes he “knows” something is still involving himself with external knowledge, unless and until this external knowledge provides a stimulus to look within. This, of course, has been repeated many times by Cologero. Yet we are slow wake sometimes, slow to remember…myself included.

    “I must say that even though I dislike some of your attitudes, but you really have something genuinely noble within”

    …Perhaps that is the case with all of us…

  3. Exactly, Jacob, you need to understand how you know what you know. “All knowledge” may be going too far. The is your ordinary direct knowledge of sensory things, e.g., “the sun is shining”. There is discursive knowledge you learn from education, e.g., history class. There is “how to” knowledge you use all day long. Even from the esoteric point of view, there is more. Of course, there is self-knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of the microcosm. Then there is knowledge of cosmology, i.e., knowledge of the macrocosm. Ultimately, the goal is knowledge of God.

  4. “That is, when I know something in the world, I am actually intuiting its essence, or idea, in the Divine Mind.”

    One might say “all knowledge is self-knowledge”? Interesting, I’ve never actually questioned my personal epistemology before.

  5. The point here is understand why do we hold to some particular point of view.Our desires are the main reason to,if you wish to see for the sake of seeing and not seeing what”you”want to see,then the objective is being achieved!

  6. ‘There is a philosophical theory called “holism” that postulates that more complex wholes evolve from simpler forms. The reverse is actually the case: more complex wholes create the simpler. Angelic intelligences are likewise hierarchical, with the higher orders grasping larger wholes.’

    As in the Soul. The fallen state demands that we perceive through a variety of sensory apparatus, each diverging from a more holistic truth.The heart, an aperceptive organ immediately connected to the higher, more simple state(Kubra via Corbin and practically every Saint) corrects this chaotic condition when oriented correctly.It really is a case of ‘the world turned inside out’, of not only perceiving but living in the reality only momentarily experienced by three during the Transfiguration-that reality which exists continuously. The body, politics, fashion of every kind, are more fleeting than the seasons and just as the seasons are regulated by an orientation to the sun so every passion should be regulated. Trust not in princes….

  7. I am an old reader of you, I must say that even though I dislike some of your attitudes, but you really have something genuinely noble within.

  8. Perhaps it is, X, except that there are many people who regard such relationships with dogs as quite normal and even praiseworthy. I made the appropriate modification.

  9. “In a quite literal way there is an ‘animal faith’ (in George Santayana’s words) in such a view that makes it seem too obvious to question. That is exactly how an animal experiences the world. That may explain why she lives with five dogs and two cats … intellectually, they get along so well.”

    Chuck, personal attack.

  10. The rallying cry of the merchants of outrage is that “the personal is the political.” The reality, as always, can be found in its inversion: “the political is the personal.” When someone demands to know your political views, it is a sure sign that their personality has been devoured by resentment. That sort of person is far from the Tao.

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