Friday, August 14, 2015

Full Circle

Reading an essay by "Spengler" titled A Thoughtless Age as often happens I reflected on the ideas through the lens of Desani's teachings.  Spengler doesn't say so but the implication is that we are in spite of our technological prowess - and maybe because of it - being ushered into a new dark age.  A classical liberal arts education focusing on how the present world has been molded by the development of ancient ideas, concepts, and those old masters who put them forth is pretty much a thing of the past and will have to be rediscovered.  He points out that you can't read - and have it make any sense - a great book without understanding the embedded references, allusions. So for at least two generations now virtually no one pays any mind to the great works of literature and philosophy that were once considered essential to a liberal arts education.

Desani was the very quintessence of a liberally educated man of the world.  His work is brimming with allusions to other great works, ideas, and cultural patterns. The reader needs bring a lot to the table to fully benefit from the author's intent.

Desani's endowment to me is summed up in a gem he personally gave me.  I've mentioned it elsewhere but, again, it is that we are the device(s) by which God has self experience. To me that was his core belief, his core message. It's almost painfully direct - Diamond on Diamond as he was wont to say - but compare it to God's covenant with the Jews. "You will be my people and I will be your God."  Or, to put it otherwise, you will be my particular and I will be your universal.  Or how about, I will confer on you universality and you will confer on me individuality.  I think the great Aristotle gave us that.  Jesus is the "Word made flesh" follows the same formula. Desani's formulation means that the covenant of God is not with the Jews per se, nor is it with man.  It is with Sentient Life Forms.  Naturally it follows that the end within all creation is the actualization of this potential that is bound up in matter itself.  It also follows that the wonderful qualities of Beauty, Truth, Love, Liberty, and so forth, are emergent characteristics intended to flower along with Life itself; Life and the qualities that tend to life are the end within creation, as the rose is in the bud. That would be, in Aristotle's thought, Entelechy, the end within.

Since I'm speaking of God I'd point out that the great pitfall there is our apparent materiality.  I don't know what Desani thought of the idea put forth by Soren Kierkegaard that God doesn't exist because "he" is eternal - and therefore not a thing.  This approach appeals to me, at any rate, and I compare it to the notion put forth in, for instance, Satipatthana Vipassana yoga that the Self doesn't exist either.  I've not had that insight - its called Anattanupassana-nana - that is, "insight into the absence of self or personality."  I just wanted to put that out there because talk of God is not to be done in a glib manner.  Desani pointed this out frequently saying it was a waste of time when what we should be occupied with is Love of God, that is, worship.  He also said that bringing God to mind again and again is a form of worship.  This little offering is intended to be a part of that.

The Father is delighted by, indeed, gains sustenance from, the discoveries of his children.  He stands, hands outstretched. In one hand he holds the ultimate knowledge, understanding, of the meaning and purpose of existence.  In the other hand he offers the unending pursuit of that understanding.  Following, again, the lead of Kirkegaard, we ought wisely to choose the offering of pursuit, of discovery.  Let God keep his secrets.  Ours is not to know the reasons why.  Ours is to take the path of discovery.

Desani taught that we should take what is good from the past and apply it to make a better future.  A quote from the piece above cited is appropriate to Desani's teaching.
When properly conceived and taught, the liberal arts do not by themselves make us “better people” or (God knows) more “human.” They don’t exist to make us more “liberal,” at least in the contemporary political sense. But the liberal arts can do something no less wonderful: They can open our eyes.
They show us how to look at the world and the works of civilization in serious and important and even delightful ways. They hold out the possibility that we will know better the truth about many of the most important things. They are the vehicle that carries the amazing things that mankind has made — and the memory of the horrors that mankind has perpetrated — from one age to the next. They teach us how to marvel. - John Agresto
And, "Western culture has become inaccessible to the general public because we have lost the ability to see the world through the eyes of those who created it."