Saturday, October 05, 2013

A summary

I had been reading Schuon again, which is a disturbing read for most anyone, at least most anyone who can even begin to understand it. It is a good thing he is as hard to read as he is, but even so I don't really recommend him, except to off-road spiritual adventurers who have been scared to the point of literal shaking in fear repeatedly over the years.

"Don't be too hard on yourself" said the voice in my heart, although the tone of voice was less 'relax and chill' and more 'I know how far from perfect you are'. It continued: "Every second you remember God is eternity ... Every second you remember God is valuable."

Actually I think that is a pretty good take-away.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chief of sinners?

Reading a little in Schuon's book Prayer Fashions Man, I came across some paragraphs about humility. The fun part was how to him, people who want to call themselves the greatest of sinners weren't different from others who wanted to call themselves the greatest. They all wanted to be special.

This made me think, since we know that good old Paul the apostle did call himself the greatest of all sinners. Like, the worst of them. But there's two things about that. One, he had a pretty good claim to it. Remember he was a smart, well-schooled contemporary of Jesus. He could have just asked those who knew Jesus what this was all about and thought about it in light of the Scriptures, which he knew from his childhood. But instead he was like EX-TER-MI-NATE all the Christians until the Lord stepped in and stopped him. So, one could excuse him for being a bit down about it all.

And there's the other thing, that he did not need to claim supervillain status to be special. The folks he was writing to had largely been converted by him. They had seen him do all kinds of apostle stuff and signs and wonders. Naturally some of the newbie Christians had become Paul fanboys. They were like "Yeah, sure James is the Brother of the Lord, and Peter is the Rock of the Church, and John is the Disciple that Jesus loved, but Paul is really the main man! I'm totally like Paul for boss apostle!" So pointing out that he hadn't exactly been like that all the time was kind of averaging himself out.

And of course, he was trying to give people hope. If he had been that bad, and God's grace had not been in vain for him, there was hope even for the people you secretly hoped would just trip and break their neck before they could do any more harm.  So there was that as well.

So basically what I take away is, don't try this at home kids. If God knows us, that's as special as we ever need to be.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

"Then and now"

This little verse appeared years ago in the local newspaper in the area where I grew up. It was in New Norwegian, my mother tongue, so this is my attempt at translation.

"They tried to adapt their lives, at first, to the tenets of religion;
but that turned out, alas, to be a difficult proposition.
So now they have taken the opposite direction:
Adapted religion to their own imperfection."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Holy Mother of ...

I can see now how the pregnant Holy Virgin is the archetype for at least a certain phase of the Christian life. The new life that grows within you, that is not something you create but something that is being created in you, something more precious than anything and yet there is nothing you can do to help it now, just passively try to protect it. Even though it gives you all kinds of trouble and inconvenience and burden and fear. Yeah. I am glad I'll never be pregnant, that's for sure. But ... I can see this now. I think.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Three ways and three levels

This is something I cannot explain, but it seems that in Christianity, the three most common levels of spiritual capacity correlate with three paths of yoga in Hinduism: Karma, jnana and bhakti.

The most common category among Christians is those who have awareness of the realm of Good, in the sense that they can feel directly when they do something good, a sense of warmth and joy that comes into their heart that is not related to the pleasures of the senses. In this direct perception of something spiritual, they are naturally inclined to believe in God and Heaven, and it takes some effort to convince them otherwise, as some people these days do.

It seems to me that the path of karma - action or duty - is particularly prevalent in this group. I guess that makes sense since they feel an immediate reward?

The next and much less common group is what I call "heroes" or geniuses, those who are able to directly receive inspiration from a higher realm. Artists of all stripes, natural born leaders, teachers and scholars. I call us "heroes" because we have one or more abilities that common people cannot understand, kind of like superheroes in contemporary entertainment, although less abrupt. But in truth, no great genius is without a touch of madness, so there is also a potential for damage.

It seems that the way of jnana - knowledge, insight, wisdom - is more dominant here than elsewhere, and is viewed with a little suspicion by most members of the other two groups.

The third group is the saints, whose purity of heart and immediate contact with the holy is beyond the understanding of even those who regularly receive inspiration from high realms. Since it is always harder for someone on a lower level to understand those on a higher, there is not much I can say about these, except that there are more saints than listed in the books, since you have to be involved in miracles or die spectacularly to become an official saint. There are others, but you usually know that after they are gone.

The saints seem to particularly follow the path of bhakti - love, devotion, receiving and giving mercy. That is not to say that they don't also have wisdom and action, but these typically follow as an afterthought to devotion, a fruit of love, if not quite a side effect.

So in Christianity there seems to me such a correlation exists. I have seen mentioned that Christianity is itself predominantly a bhakti religion, even though I frankly don't see this preference in the words of Jesus Christ. What I notice is his overflowing jnana, but that may be just my limited receptivity. I must concede, I don't seem to be made from the stuff that saints are made from.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


There are individuals gifted with particular brands of genius: musical genius, artistic genius, scientific, even philosophical and religious, I believe. And certain cultures, and certain times in history, saw a flourishing of one or more of these. I will not here speculate on how this came to be. But mere biomass is not enough. You cannot assure that a new genius will be there to continue a tradition. An era draws to its close, and the geniuses dwindle and are gone.

Modern society is shaped by an era of unprecedented scientific genius. Even today knowledge increases exponentially. But it seems to me that much of it is ordinary workers picking up the fish killed by the explosive depth charges of genius already gone. And we know not which type of genius will erupt next, or where, or when.

It is easy to get puffed up and identify with the genius whose coat tails we ride. The spirit of democracy says that we are all the same, but that would ensure a hasty decline. As Frithjof Schuon says, the purpose of a civilization is to produce saints. I would say more generally, genius. Those who can directly perceive the crack in the Cosmic egg, where the Light gets in. No quantity of mass produced doggerel can substitute.

Monday, May 14, 2012


To argue whether Holy Scripture contains contradiction is like arguing whether a picture is flat. They are both representations, pointing beyond themselves, like the proverbial finger pointing at the moon. If you cannot look through the picture or the Scripture to the higher-dimensional reality it represents, you are merely critiquing art.