The author said: “In other words, perhaps it is not that God seeks to humble a leader who appears to be intoxicated with pride - not yet at least - but rather to enlist him as the vessel of His wrath against a country He has long intended to judge, in the hopes that we may perchance curve His judgment, by recognizing our many sins as a nation, and choose to bow before Him (God, not Obama) in humility. It is, after all, the standard method in which he has humbled other nations in the past.”
Well, I agree that America has ventured too far beyond her Judeo-Christian roots, and not for the better. Much of America has sacrificed spiritual empathy on the alter of scientific indifference and empirical objectivism, coming to confuse strategies for learning HOW we can do things with strategies for apprehending WHY we should do things. For that hubris, for our own good, we need to be humbled.
In one way or another, all nations and mortals come periodically to be humbled.
Once we come to a properly humbled frame of reference, it seems to me that a kind of Gnosticism may help some of us in our quest to marry a conception of rational empiricism with civilizing, empathetic spiritualism.
By that I mean that “The Word” can be conceptualized as encompassing every form of transfer of conceptualized or recognized information … among system, component transmitter, and component receiver. The Word can be formed of verbal sounds, alpha-numeric symbols, or any representation, metaphor, figure of speech, or even “physical” symbol understood as standing for something else.
Indeed, I intuit it possible, although not empirically verifiable, that not only transfers of information, but all changes in “physical” manifestations, may be conceived as ultimately reducing to a kind of inter-functioning of words, i.e., functions or algorithms of a system of math, being conceptualized by a holistic, synchronizing, compartmentalizing, metaphysical, spiritual “Mind.”
If so, all of “physics,” including space, time, matter, and energy, as well as all physical bodies, brains, and electrical transfers of signals among nerve synapses, may reduce to mathematical functions being conceptualized, synchronized, related, and transmitted by a Mind, aka, God.
This begs questions: May such Mind have fundamental purpose or purposes? May such purposes already have been expressed in words, necessarily imperfectly interpreted among incomplete mortal perspectives? May some interpretations have come closer to the mark than others? I believe, yes.
I think much of The Word attributed to Jesus, as interpreted and preserved by mortal representations, is close to the mark. Were I to quibble, only to enhance my own humble understanding or interpretation, I may add or substitute the word “empathy” in some places for the word “love.”
But I would not get into the question of how far Jesus expressed Himself in the form of a physical, human body. This is because I believe “physics” does not really exist in itself, but is only a derivative of Mind, made useful for “book marking” modes of interaction and communication among mortal, transient perspectives of Mind. In other words, I believe the word, i.e., math, is more real and fundamental as building block for our universe of shared experience than are atoms, photons, quarks, or strings. Perhaps my mode of interpretation, strictly for the “why” of things, may share similarities with some of the old “heretic” Gnostic beliefs.
Even so, taking a broad understanding of Christianity, I think such Gnosticism can lay legitimate claim to “being Christian.” Certainly, it need not be inconsistent with the Great Commandment or with the Golden Rule. Or with modern Social Conservatism.
For those who take both physical science and physical Christianity as seeming too circularly or regressively absurd, a special kind of Gnostic interpretation may still avail a civilizing, moral vision --- to a properly humbled mind.
Blake does not subscribe to the notion of a distinct body from the soul, and which must submit to the rule of soul, but rather sees body as an extension of soul derived from the 'discernment' of the senses. Thus, the emphasis orthodoxy places upon the denial of bodily urges is a dualistic error born of misapprehension of the relationship between body and soul ….
In his criticism of reason, law and uniformity Blake has been taken to be opposed to the enlightenment, but it has also been argued that, in a dialectical sense, he used the enlightenment spirit of rejection of external authority to criticize narrow conceptions of the enlightenment ….
William Wordsworth remarked, "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott."
Tobias Churton, scholar of obscure religious movements, states that "the Hermetic tradition was both moderate and flexible, offering a tolerant philosophical religion, a religion of the (omnipresent) mind, a purified perception of God, the cosmos, and the self, and much positive encouragement for the spiritual seeker, all of which the student could take anywhere"
Hermeticism encompasses both panentheism and Monistic-polytheism within its belief system, which teaches that there is The All, or one "Cause", of which we, and the entire universe, are all a part. Also it subscribes to the notion that other beings such as gods and angels, ascended masters and elementals exist in the Universe.
Contrary to some Gnostics, I think:
1) ARTISTRY --- Pursuit of meaningfulness is an innate and intuitive gift and art;
2) JUDGMENT --- Matter is not evil or fallen;
3) MODESTY --- Some forms for adult expression of joyful experience are not decently appropriate for civilized, public display;
4) FAMILY --- Marriage, family values, and inculcated fellow empathy are vitally important to civilization;
5) CIVILITY --- A respectable social, moral, and spiritual philosophy should be conducive to the stability, sustainability, and surpassage of a decent and enlightening civilization; such philosophy should respect human dignity and individual choices within civilizing parameters and appropriately checked and managed markets;
6) EMPATHY ---Means for assimilating, inculcating, and educating social sharing of philosophical values and traditions are essential for any civilizing system of law and social governance to endure;
7) REVERENCE --- Spiritual philosophy need not be conceived as inconsistent with methods of science;
8) CONCEPTUALISM --- Religious texts regarding "heaven" should be taken no more literally than should scientific models regarding "physicality." Rather, each, among religious texts and scientific models alike, should be appreciated in its own realm for its own metaphoric and practical purposes.
Ontology of Consciousness (Field of Consciousness):
Mystics hold that there is a deeper or more fundamental state of existence beneath the observable, day-to day world of phenomena, and that in fact the ordinary world is superficial or epiphenomenal.
Mysticisms generally hold to some form of immanence, since their focus on direct realization obviates many concerns about the afterlife, and this often conflicts with conventional religious doctrines.
… describing the power of creation inherent in pure desire/unconflicted singlemindedness of will …
… excessive effort in contemplating the impossible leads the initiate to give up the ego pursuit of doing/getting as opposed to the unity experience of being/having …
… describing the return path to the divine through a gradual emptying of earthbound value concepts and subtle internal conflicts …
Mysticism is generally considered experiential and holistic, and mystical experiences held to be beyond expression; modern philosophy, psychology, biology and physics being overtly analytical, verbal, and reductionist.
Baruch de Spinoza, the 17th c. philosopher, while supporting the new discoveries of science and eschewing traditional Jewish concepts of God and miracles, espoused that Nature/Universe was one holistic reality with the highest virtue - the power inherent in preserving essence (being) or "conatus," and the highest form of knowledge - the intuitive knowing of the Real. These shared understandings occur again and again in the field of philosophy and yet some persist in disparaging the one over the other.
… modern physicists now struggle to understand a multiple dimensional reality that mystics' have attempted to describe for millennia. Physicist David Bohm speaking of consciousness expressing itself as matter and/or energy would be completely understood by the mystic, whatever his cultural/religious heritage.
… dimensional reality shifts that synchronize with states of consciousness and unconflicted choices.
Traditional use of the term ontology makes it a synonym of metaphysics. Prior to Immanuel Kant's theoretical separation of "reality" from the "appearance of reality," with human knowledge limited to the latter, the field of ontology/metaphysics concerned itself with the overall structure or nature of reality.
… mystical path has necessarily as its ontological purpose, the discernment between truth and illusion …
In the widest sense, mysticism is every guidance to the immediate awareness of that which is not reached by either perception or conception, or generally by any knowledge. The mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, whereas the philosopher begins from without. The mystic starts from his inner, positive, individual experience, in which he finds himself as the eternal and only being, and so on. But nothing of this is communicable except the assertions that we have to accept on his word; consequently he is unable to convince.
Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, Ch. XLVIII.
The emphasis that is placed on subjective direct experience of the "divine and otherworldly transcendent goal of unity", makes it highly controversial to individuals who place a greater emphasis on emperical verification of knowledge and truth (such as scientists for example).
… Christian mystics would assert that "the Kingdom of Heaven is within” …
Those who adopt a phenomenological approach to mysticism believe that an argument can be made for concurrent lines of thought throughout mysticism, regardless of interaction.
Ken Wilber: … the stages of transpersonal growth and development are basically the stages of following this observing self to its ultimate abode.
Terms descriptive of a desired "afterlife" include Moksha (liberation or release), Heaven (traditionally understood as a gathering place for goodly spirits, near to God and other holy beings), and Nirvana (literally extinguishing of the mental fetters or unbinding of the mind), but in mystical parlance these reference an experience of reality "different from the present here and now." "Afterlife" is not related to an extension of life after physical death, but sought as a direct experience of the perfect, the divine reality in the present life. The goal is generally established through an "accidental" revelatory or miraculous experience such as a dimensional shift between one structure of reality to another. Once this "potentiality" has been experienced/received/observed, understanding how and why it has occurred becomes the goal of the individual and permanently stabilizing this "direct experience of God" is obsessively pursued. Because terms descriptive of the divine "goal" are defined differently - even by individuals within a given religion - and their usage within mysticism is often no less imprecise, it is extremely difficult for anyone, who has not experienced the simultaneity of the "shift in awareness/reality" to translate mystical language in a useful way.
If the attempt of religion, philosophy and science to describe reality is comparative to the fable of five blind men attempting to define an elephant by describing its parts, the mystic of every religion and culture sees the elephant despite the individuality of approach and differences in culture and language.
Most mystical paths arise in the context of some particular religion but tend to set aside or move beyond these institutional structures, often believing themselves to be following the 'purest' or 'deepest' representations of that faith.
Mystical experiences do not guarantee that mystics will be compassionate or moral, nor on the other hand is a mystical state incompatible with being morally concerned with others.
It is important to note that many of the self-styled mystical belief systems arising in recent decades essentially differ from mysticism proper in that they rely on the individual seeker's power and will, whereas in the mystic traditions, the states cannot be initiated by the seeker himself, but only by the Ultimate Being. Hence the term mystikos.
Acosmic monistic spiritual practice emphasises attaining the Absolute through a kind of intellectual or conceptual realisation. This may involve holding the thought that "I am that" (the Absolute), as in the of the Advaita Vedanta school and its recent advocates; or alternatively through a standing back and simply watching the thoughts and sensations arise and pass away; realising all the time that they are not a part of one's true Self. Both these approaches are termed the path of jnana ("knowledge").
Indian philosophies were and are concerned not so much with the manifest reality we see about us, but with the unmanifest Absolute Transcendent. What matters is simply the practical attainment of a state of this universal, transcendent, transpersonal existence. In that state, according to Adi Shankara, there is no difference between Self and God; there is only the Absolute (Brahman).