Theology & Human Cloning

Just finished listening to this Speaking of Faith dialogue with Northwestern Prof. Geneticist and Jewish philosopher Laurie Zoloth.

She is really profound, humane, and loving.

Published in: on October 30, 2007 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Da: Forerunner of post-metaphysical spirituality

I’ve been re-reading through some of the early works of Adi Da (then Free John). Particularly The Enlightenment of the Whole Body (whole text here).

One of the main key arguments of the text is that enlightenment is bodily. Not simply awakening consciousness, but Conscious Light–body, breath, attention, and emotion released/surrendered to God. This notion of the body enlightened accords with Da’s assertion that the way of Sacrifice not inward realization nor outward habitual activity, is the true posture of the awakened heart-mind.

Now Da also does something very interesting in the text, which I believe points (half-way) to post-metaphysics. Da, as some readers know, employs a notion of 7 Stages of Life (from birth to Transcendental Sacrificial Love Bliss Awakening….the 7th stage having two phases, sahaj samadhi and bhava samadhi). This notion of the 7 Stages of Life was the prime influence on Wilbers 2-4 and the notion that the psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual states (incorrectly) are stages on top of the chain that runs from archaic, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, and integral. First thing then to do is recall that the four states are possible at any stage of development.

With that correction in mind, I’m still going to use Da’s language….

The 5th Stage of Life in Da is the Subtle-Illuminative path. The path of Ascended Light to the Matrix up and out of the head (seen in paintings of saints with halos of light encircling the skull). Now in the traditions, such visions associated with this tradition–visions of heaven, mystical union with a Deity Form, subtle sounds/colors, etc.–were considered to be intuitions/experiences of actually existing other realms. You actually, as it were, went to heaven and united with Jesus.

What Da shows, and what I think is really revolutionary, in this work, is that there is no other place. Those experiences are modifications of latent powers within the human body-mind. Now from the Absolute perspective what that means is such activity is just a very advanced form of seeking, motivated by suffering/unhappiness, looking for some final release or condition to end suffering outside of oneself.

He writes:

The phenomena of the fifth stage of life are traditionally de-scribed to worldly or exoteric devotees and even to initiates in the fourth stage of life in terms of a hierarchy of cosmological schemes,ascending toward the Absolute Deity. The ultimate goal is de-scribed as the union or Eternal Embrace of God and the soul (which remains intact, but in a highly ratified or purified state). However, the phenomena of the fifth stage must be re-cognized as they truly are. They are the phenomena displayed to the internalized sense-functions when attention is firmly directed into the Life-Current in the brain core.

But the key point I want to emphasize here is that these experiences are simply working the human body-mind in a certain fashion and these experiences are reflex mechanisms of latent powers within the brain and nervous system.

This bodily-mediation (and “naturalistic” turn) is half of the quadrants, half of the understanding on the way to post-metaphysical spirituality and spiritual practice. In the quadrants view, that is the right-side of the quadrants (more individual upper right than lower collective right), but bodily nonetheless.

Again in post-metaphysics it does not mean there are not other realms—heaven, hell, purgatory, reincarnation, whatever. It means that because all of our experiences, even so-called mystical ones, are bodily mediated and our bodies are earthly (though transcendentally possible, transcendent within this realm however), then we can’t make any determination one way or the other about such other realms. We can appeal to Revelations I suppose as long as one admits it has to be taken on faith. Alternatively, there are “suggestive” (though by no means conclusive) pieces of evidence from individuals claiming to have experiences of life after physical death (again those experiences mediated, if true, by a subtler form of body).

This realization of full bodily enlightenment, is why Touch is the sense most connected to enlightenment (not sight as is traditionally the case).

But this is only half-way to true post-metaphysics because it seems to me Da is unaware of a second step the understanding of the Lower Left (though elsewhere he basically outlines the quadrants and the phrase include and transcend is his, but he doesn’t seem to have it in relation to spiritual experiences).

In other words, he seems to assume not that the experiences (of light say) are universal constructs outside of the human. Bodily mediated no doubt, but not investigated as to the possible content of those experiences being shaped by the religious-social context of the individual. Christians have visions of Jesus. Jews do not have visions of Krishna. The common forms of the 5th Stage Ascended Light Mysticism Da describes are a product of his Siddha Yoga Indian Spiritual training. There are certainly similarities in other traditions, but the content is not the same.

Once we get that all experience, mystical or mundane, are consciously, socially and bodily conditioned/mediated, then we I think are really onto something profound. Does not mean there are not layers/gradations of mediated experience, just that all are. And transcendence must sacrificial awakened life within this world, in this body and in cultures of awakening (a point Da does make forcefully elsewhere).

Published in: on October 29, 2007 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why Sanctions Won’t Work

An the price of oil at $90/barrel.
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China, a permanent member of the Security Council that can veto any U.N. resolution, is expected to overtake Germany as Iran’s biggest trading partner this year. Germany and other European countries had consistently been Iran’s largest trading partners for more than a decade, according to the Iran Investment Monthly.

The U.S. Treasury said that more than 40 banks, mostly in Europe, have curbed business with Iran as a result of U.S. pressure, but smaller banks, Islamic financial institutions and Asian banks are likely to step in and replace the Western financial institutions through which Iran has long sold oil on the international market. Oil traders said that Iran does an increasing portion of its petroleum sales in euros and yen, instead of U.S. dollars, and often through third parties, to help its customers circumvent U.S. financial sanctions.
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Published in: on October 29, 2007 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Iran’s asymmetric war plan

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Many Arabs argue that the Iranians actually want America to attack. Politically, that would help the hard-liners rally support. And militarily, it would lure the United States onto a battlefield where its immense firepower wouldn’t do much good. The Iranians could withdraw into the maze of their homeland and keep firing off their missiles — exacting damage on the West’s economy and, most important, its will to fight.

That’s the lesson for Muslim warriors of the Iraq and Lebanon wars: Draw your adversaries deep into terrain that you control; taunt them into starting a war they can’t finish. I’m told that the Syrian military, for example, is now changing its doctrine to fight an asymmetric guerrilla war against Israel that it can win, Hezbollah-style, rather than a conventional war it would certainly lose.

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Published in: on October 28, 2007 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

One for Salamone

From Time’s Curious Capitalilst: The Case for Giving up On Buffalo. [Commenting on this article in the City Journal by Edward Glaeser].

You can peep in on the Foreignerd’s  (aka Herr Salamone) exploits in Deustchland hier.

Justin Fox, the Curious Capitalist does ask a penetrating question via Glaesar’s analysis:

Glaeser is almost certainly right. But still I wonder, do his cost-benefit calculations factor in the economic impact of Rick James? I mean, if there were no Buffalo, it seems unlikely that there would be a Super Freak.

No Super freak indeed.  And then hence, one supposes No Hammer Time either?  Then worst of all, no, “I’m Rick James b—h”.  My life would not be complete without that.  So corporate and governmental welfare down the hole to the rescue for Buffalo I say.   Keep the coffers flowing Albany.

Published in: on October 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Farewell Israel?

So suggests a new documentary out (saw advertised on Dennis Prager’s site). This is the trailer. Some sweet music.

Here’s the website. Click here for Q&A with Director/Producer/Writer, Joel Gilbert (BA from London School of Oriental and African Studies). In the vein I would say of Bernard Lewis.

Why should we say farewell to Israel–Gilbert answers:

Israel’s lack of understanding of Islam, its values and goals, have lead it to a policy of surrender of territory, based on the belief that it will achieve “Peace” in Western terms. In reality, “Western Peace” between Israel and Islam is unattainable. Peace can only be achieved in Islamic terms – “Peace with Justice” – which requires the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. Muslims have 1,400 years of experience and holy scriptures to refer to that deal with Jews. Because Judaism predates Islam, Jews have no such foundation in dealing with Muslims, hence the Israeli misunderstanding, and the Islamic advantage.

Now this line is actually quite sharp:

There is no such thing as “Radical Islam.” Islamism is not a war against the West, it is an internal struggle for the revival of Islamic society – a “revolt” against their failed secular governments. The attacks of 9/11 are completely misunderstood by the West. In fact, 9/11 was only a provocation by a small group of Islamists, hoping to use the West’s response to inspire the masses in Islam’s internal struggle. The 9/11 attacks were successful only because George Bush played into the hands of the Al-Qaeda by adopting Al-Qaeda’s agenda for government reform across the Middle East – helping to pave the way for Islamist parties to come to power.

That first sentence is precisely on target. Islamism is a modern (though it will appeal to ancient roots) phenomenon that has arisen in light of the failure of Arab socialism/secular nationalism. The West has been drug into this fight. The fight is not per se with the West–only it could be argued to the degree the West backs Arab dictators, refuses to recognize Iran/Hezbollah, and supports Israel. And of course the US now occupying Iraq.

I’m not sure what I think about George Bush playing into the hands of al-Qaeda by seeking reform in the Middle East. Does that mean Gilbert thinks the West should continue to support Arab dictatorial regimes–aren’t they the ones backing (though not pushing it too strongly) an overthrow of Israel?

It would be more accurate, given Gilbert’s correct analysis, to say that George Bush played into bin Laden’s scheme by invading an Islamic country in the heart of the Middle East. That would lead to the rage against the West, the uprising he wanted–though not to al-Qaeda Central by any stretch.

Gilbert also doesn’t acknowledge then that within this push for revival come other permutations of Islam and politics (e.g Turkey’s ruling party). There is a Reformation going on in the Islamic world–the Salafi revivalist (Sunni) and Mahdist Shia apocalypticism (Sadr and Ahmadeinjad) are only two varieties. Two varieties which US policy is doing everything it possibly can to strengthen (unintentionally).

All of a sudden everything revolves around Iran. Shady to my mind. Why does he just sneak al-Qaeda in at the end of the trailer and then back to Iran? They are different.

To the question what does he think Iran’s agenda in the Middle East is:

Iran is acquiring strategic weapons in order to shift the balance of power with Israel, which it believes will precipitate Israel’s destruction and Islam’s revival. Even without attacking Israel, the mere capability of Iranian missiles to lay waste to Tel-Aviv would create a “strategic umbrella,” preventing Israel from using its superior strategic assets in a conventional war. With Israeli missiles neutralized, Muslim countries could overwhelm Israel with their superior numbers, conventional armor and short range missiles.

Huh? Never heard this one before. No analysis from Gilbert at least in the Q&A of why Iran, as we now know, offered to cut off aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, recognize Israel in exchange for normalization of relations with the United States after 9/11? Part of their diplomatic cover to jihad? I think not.

Nor a possible Israeli-Sunni alliance against the Iranians. Why it would have been helpful to peel Syria off from Iran when that chance was available.

I think Gilbert is right, a war is coming. A war that will weaken Israel I worry. But not one that was inevitable given the so-called Islamic mindframe.

It is fair to say that Islam, on the whole, has not come to grips with the modern world. The modern world represented colonialism and humiliation. It represents currently occupation of Iraq, dictatorship in Pakistan. And what message does the US send to Turkey (a NATO ALLY) by not helping root out actual terrorists (as named by the State Department), the PKK? Not to mention Europe giving them the cold shoulder on EU membership to date. What message is sent by way to the Islamic world that a path is opened for them to actually join the modern world?

If there is no Islamic way to modernity (and not imposed or even aided by the West, just let some space open up and give people choice within bounds), then Islam becomes identified more and more with resistance, historical grievance, and ethnocentrism.

This set of policies is a strong part of what is undermining Israel. That and a multi-culturalist anti-Israeli turn in certain quarters. And Israel continuing to illegally occupy (and brutally so) Palestine?

On all sides, ignorant actors.

The fight was always against Salafi Sunni revivalism of a trans-national nature. Now it is a no end in sight occupation, near total bankrupting of the Gaza (the Israelis are now shutting off electricity to Hamas-controlled Gaza), forgotten Afghanistan, and a coming fight with the Shia.

Perfect breeding ground for the Revivalism Gilbert rightly fears gaining strength. My difference with Gilbert is that this end result did not have to happen and is not simply the outcome of “Islam’s” 1400 history and mindset. It could have been very different in the wake of 9/11. Very different.

Now I see darkness spreading.

Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Good piece on Iraq by Joe Klein


Key quote:

The future of Iraq is likely to be decided by the struggle for power between the Hakim and Sadr families. That struggle could easily turn very lethal. Indeed, in recent days there have been battles between the Sadr and Hakim forces in Karbala and Basra. The next crucial U.S. military decision is, How deeply do we get involved in this fight? Do we side with the Hakims, who are more élite and less popular than the Sadrists? Do we continue what we are doing now–sporadic raids targeting the special groups and police actions aimed at the street gangs in Baghdad? Do we expand our anti-Sadr actions into the southern third of Iraq, a course of action that could prove quite bloody?

Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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(CAIRO, Egypt) — Al-Qaeda sympathizers have unleashed a torrent of anger against Al-Jazeera television, accusing it of misrepresenting Osama bin Laden’s latest audiotape by airing excerpts in which he criticizes mistakes by insurgents in Iraq.

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Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Law of the Sea

The Washington Note has been doing yeoman’s work on this under-reported story.  Hat tip to the Note.

Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment  

What the Hell….

is going on? First Syria, now this.

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Lebanese troops opened fire Thursday on Israeli warplanes flying low over southern Lebanon, but no hits were reported, Lebanese officials said.

Israeli warplanes frequently fly over Lebanese airspace in what Israel says are reconnaissance missions, but this was the first time the Lebanese army has fired on the aircraft since an Aug. 14, 2006, cease-fire ended a monthlong war between Israeli and Hezbollah guerrillas.

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Published in: on October 25, 2007 at 9:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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