Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Self seeking

If the self cannot be sought, because the seeker is the self, why is it felt that the search for self is the fundamental quest of human life? Any thoughtful person knows that the conditioning that passes for identity is not self, and that egoic thoughts about one's desires, although endlessly diverting, are not self either. The spiritual soul, or the deeper consciousness principle, represents in its many significators what the quest of life is all about. And yet, it is a quixotic enough quest that by definition has no meaning.

Self seeking, indeed, is a self-seeking proposition. Who benefits most from the discovery of this goal than the self itself? For what more prestigious prize could anyone hope to gain than that thing that everyone else is also seeking? How admired is anyone who in the full confidence of self, expresses their essence through their every gesture and glories in the truth of their own existence! What a celebrity is he who knows that, and whom everybody else knows he knows that. What a prodigy is she who wears her own self-discovery like a fabulous garment, and is as comfortable in it as in her own skin. For indeed though the skin cannot contain it, when the skin is worn it becomes as genuinely transformed into the self, and thus is indistinguishable from it.

When the last benighted human has at last turned sage and ascended the mountain of spiritual realization, to put aside all earthly things and contemplate the glory of his own being, it will suddenly strike him that there is yet another peak beyond the self that he has conquered. And that remote prominence may be at last truly unknowable and frustrate the most persistent of questers. Like the quantum particle, it never submits to knowledge, but only presents its manifestations to the instrumentation of measurement, or the intrusive gaze of the senses. That ineffable mathematically "imaginary" numberless number reigns beyond the hyperborean realms, in a dimensionally involuted infinity of intransigent inaccessibility. Until half a moment past "is", that is.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

En soph

In reading about the Sophists in Richard Tarnas's history of ideas, The Passion of the Western Mind, I encounter the following passage:

Despite the positive effects of their intellectual training and establishment of a liberal education as a basis for effective character formation, a radical skepticism toward all values led some to advocate an explicitly amoral opportunism. Students were instructed how to devise ostensibly plausible arguments supporting virtually any claim. More concretely disturbing was the concurrent deterioration of the political and ethical situation in Athens to the point of crisis--the democracy turning fickle and corrupt, the consequent takeover by a ruthless oligarchy, the Athenian leadership of Greece becoming tyrannical, wars begun in arrogance ending in such critical circumstances, the philosophical denial of absolute values and sophistical commendation of stark opportunism seemed both to reflect and to exacerbate the problematic spirit of the times.

It gives one pause to wonder if the antithetical spirit of our time: i.e., the capitalist greed and blind lust for wealth and power, versus the progressivism and idealism which is perhaps making a comeback since its brief efflorescence in the 1960s, is not posited on the same shaky sophisticated foundation. Postmodernism tends to dismantle its own underpinnings, including the spiritual dimension, leaving the questing imagination with no metaphysical targets to shoot for. What is left is the eternal mundane, always there to comfort you with its relativistic nipple when all else fails.

Is it fair, then, to pin the excesses of the Greed Decade (the 80s, Reaganism, Gordon Gekko) down through the Iraq War in this post-Constitutional era, on the solipsistic and linguistically obtuse meanderings of "sophisticated" academics? Perhaps so. Every word that is uttered makes an impact on the whole universe. Truths can be denied, but Truth herself if spurned can be a vengeful lover, and bring a whole plague of apocalypses down on our silly heads!