Monday, January 16, 2012

Readings: Don't You Just Know It?

In my last post, I linked to some comment threads where I had been arguing about, among other things, the nature of Truth, as contrasted to that of “belief.” My basic point was that capital “T” Truth cannot be known through the exercise of reason. Reason can help a thinker eliminate that which logically cannot be true. But reason alone can never provide even a glimpse of the Transcendent. That comes only via direct revelation, through divine providence. It follows from this that belief is as close as most of us can approach the Truth. But, have stalled-out, so to speak, at the level of belief, we have no way to prove to others (or even to ourselves) that what we believe actually partakes of Truth.

That which I have been reading recently, I have been reading with such thoughts on my mind.

One of my primary reads, since shortly before Christmas, has been The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. This book consists of Dick’s attempts to make formal sense of a pair of experiences he had on two separate occasions in 1974, and which he understood to have been direct revelations of the transcendent. In the course of his subsequent intellectual meanderings, Dick refers quite often to several of the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers. Because of this, I decided that it would be advantageous to my reading of Dick if I undertook a brief review of the pre-Socratics. In a little book entitled, A Presocratics Reader, I came across a citation of this fragment from Xenophanes:

No man has seen nor will anyone know the truth about the gods and all the things I speak of. For even if a person should in fact say what is absolutely the case, nevertheless he himself does not know, but belief is fashioned over all things [or, in the case of all persons].

Thank you, Xenophanes! A couple of pages further into this book, I came across a report that Heraclitus believed, “Of all those whose accounts (logoi) I have heard, no one reaches the point of recognizing that that which is wise is set apart from all.” And then, “Much learning (“polymathy”) does not teach insight.”

Right-on, Heraclitus.

I have also, for several months, been making my way through A Course in Miracles (ACIM)--both the text and the workbook. This teaching--which like The Exegesis purports to be a report of direct revelation--was brought to my attention by my Facebook friend, Janette Tingle. Although I was skeptical at the outset that it would consist of New Age psycho-babble, I have found nothing in it which does not ring true. Just yesterday I noted the following--from Lesson 43: “God is my Source. I cannot see apart from Him.”:

Perception is not an attribute of God. His is the realm of knowledge. Yet He has created the Holy Spirit as the Mediator between perception and knowledge. Without this link with God, perception would have replaced knowledge forever in your mind. With this link with God, perception will become so changed and purified that it will lead to knowledge. That is its function as the Holy Spirit sees it. Therefore, that is its function in truth.

So, there it is again, stated in a slightly different way.

In reading The Exegesis, I have been amazed at the correlations I’ve found there to both the teachings of ACIM, and the philosophical formulations in the book, The Bridge to Nothingness (BTN) by Sholomo Giora Shoham, of which I’ve written before.

The following, [from Folder 14:84] on page 326 of The Exegesis is very much in keeping with BTN. Dick writes:

My system states, “The Godhead is in difficulty. Evil is not the manifestation of an evil deity nor a sign of God’s vengeance, etc., but an analog in the lower or microcosm of the difficulty in the macrocosm or pleroma. The yin aspect has exceeded its proper limits, perhaps as an oscillation of a great supratemporal cycle, and rectification is already in progress.” [emphasis Dick’s]

In Folder 15:44, Dick writes:

Our very mechanisms have been taken advantage of. It was not intended that we discriminate false info from true. There was not supposed to be any false info in the first place. Strange that I, who believe everything I’m told, doubt the entire empirical world and stigmatize it as a product (in the form of spurious data) of evil. It is not an evil world; there is no real world at all! But there is something there, though: a vast bank of lights and sounds and colors flashing at us from all sides, to which we must react. We are enclosed by it -- it is what the ancients called ananke or fate, and it was the power of this that the savior broke.

This post is already quite lengthy. I had another fairly large excerpt from The Exegesis noted for inclusion here, but I think I’ll hold that one back for later. I hope that anybody reading this can see the correlations between the ideas expressed in the various works I’ve cited and begin to make the connections that I’m trying to highlight.

Addendum:  Here is a post from the archives which may shed addition light on the above.