(Note: Whoah, this has got to be the longest post I’ve ever written. I like to be thorough, hope it isn’t to much of a mission. Its got 2 parts.)
Correct me if I'm wrong but I see our basic difference concerns levels of reality. You would say I "don't seem to understand Christianity" But if Christianity exists as levels of reality as described before, then you and I living at the exoteric level, cannot understand a living reality at the transcendent level
I believe that the various esoteric teachings that speak of what can be interpreted as levels of reality is actually metaphor to try to help explain things that cannot easily be conveyed linguistically. The exoteric ‘level’ you mention is the level of appearance, of mistaking concepts for reality, which I think we can both agree on. What I would consider the esoteric is the absence of these concepts altogether and a direct awareness of reality as-it-is.
The reason I am critical of taking levels of reality to be a literal description is because that is just another description, another concept and therefore exoteric. If
reality was composed of levels, and one were to experience this directly, they would not be experiencing levels at all, they would simply ‘be’ – a kind of unfiltered and uninhibited being so to speak. Whatever description is arrived at, it is not the described; the map is not the territory; the menu is not the meal. All true mystics are poets by nature – thus, I think, if a true mystic talks of levels of reality he should be interpreted as you would a poet and not a scientist. I think you are talking him/them literally and I think this is a mistake. All language is metaphor.
You imply that fear of hell is a motivator but the Christianity I know is more concerned with the loss of conscious freedom through continual sleep in Plato's cave.
Sure, but this is precisely my point. Since you fear this notion of ‘loss of conscious freedom through continual sleep’ then you are motivated by fear. I don’t think that something can come from nothing; therefore, love and compassion and peace and joy cannot come from fear and, ultimately, hate – since you surely hate this condition also.
I believe that genuine seeking comes from the love of other beings alone, rather than a dissatisfaction with one’s current state, and I believe that this is a kind of attitude that separates the true teachers from the misguided. This is partly why I personally consider Weil to be misguided and not a genuine teacher. True compassion is not possible if there is someone doing it. True compassion resides in self-less action.
Perhaps only too willing. The worst kind of ego is the one that tries to be humble. Perhaps you only get out of Plato's cave when you realise there was never any cave to begin with.
Again the essential difference. While I agree with the foolishness of false humility, to deny Plato's cave is to deny the human condition of psychological sleep. If we are asleep in Plato's cave, what understanding of a higher reality can we have? If there is no cave it means that this psychological sleep we can awaken from isn't the human condition. I believe it is and the purpose of the great traditions is to aid in awakening. To you it seems as though we already are awake but just ignorant and just have to continue learning.
I feel I should elaborate on where I am coming from, if I may.
We are awake in the sense that our true nature is always present. We are asleep in the sense that we mistake our self/our being to be the mind and its contents. The Zen and Sufi teachers are perhaps most blunt about this. In Advaita, the classic nondual esoteric school of Hindu philosophy, they explain the situation to be that we are all ‘Shiva’ (i.e. in this context, ‘god’, for all intensive purposes), we have merely forgotten our identity. So, awakening then is recognition/realisation rather than achievement. This is how I indentify our key difference here – that you hold awakening to be a goal that can be achieved, while I consider it more like a realisation of what is already the case.
Note, for example, that ‘Satori’, the Zen description for awakening from the cave, can literally be translated as “catching on”. It is as though one suddenly ‘catches on’ to what is going on, rather than literally find themselves somewhere other than here and now. One Zen master, when asked to describe what enlightenment is like, said “When hungry, eat, when tired, sleep.” In other words, life continues as before, yet without the constant effort of the mind to conceptualise reality and put itself at the centre of it. This Zen master is saying he does everything we do except he doesn’t allow his monkey mind, the creator and origin of the cave, to get in the way. Note also that he doesn’t say “when I’m
Compare with the Hindu word for getting out of the cave – ‘Moksha’. Moksha literally mean liberation – presumably from the self-imposed (mental) chains of the cave. One is liberated from the limits of the mind, but they still exist in the same reality as always. Their liberation tells them that they were always unbound from the mind, they simply thought themselves to be otherwise. Hence, too, they realise
they are and always were one with the ‘all’, they just didn’t realise it previously and took themselves to be a thought.
So, in your model, we could make sense of this by saying the conscious connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm is always present and not something later generated. The ‘awakening’ is to realise this is already so, in my view.
Well, okay, but this is completely contrary to the various teachings themselves. The first part is that meditation, of which conscious attention is a part, is always purposeless. You cannot try to do it nor can you have any kind of goal; if you try to get somewhere, you are not doing it. The second is that conscious attention is about training and strengthening the mind, not aligning the organism.
Simone Weil describes the purpose of meditation. It reveals the uselessness of guided meditations or la la land.
"Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it We must continually suspend the work of the imagination in filling the void within ourselves."
"In no matter what circumstances, if the imagination is stopped from pouring itself out, we have a void (the poor in spirit). In no matter what circumstances... imagination can fill the void. This is why the average human beings can become prisoners, slaves, prostitutes, and pass thru no matter what suffering without being purified."
Without conscious attention, it is easy to fall into imagination
To be honest, I don’t see how this quote has relevance to meditation or what I have said exactly.
What I said was the meditation and conscious attention are not the same as what Weil is describing.
Meditation with purpose is not meditation. A purpose implies an isolatable self with a goal to achieve i.e. desire and self[ish]-ness.
So, because Weil is assuming an isolatable self and a goal she desires, she is not meditating. Nor, as it turns out, is she practising conscious attention. Conscious attention is about simply witnessing and not attaching to our thoughts. Weil assumes that her thoughts about a separate soul/self, a heaven, a god, and so on are not thoughts, so she mistakes them for reality. Even if these things were true, then it would still not be conscious attention, because the thought of something is not equatable to the thing itself.
So, it simply isn’t meditation or conscious attention, although you are welcome to keep repeating otherwise if you so choose. At best, we could perhaps say the Weil invented her own technique for something-or-other, however we cannot call it either meditation nor conscious attention for it is not either of those things.
Faith as a human quality rather then acquired faith in something can be developed through conscious attention.
Faith by definition is a human quality. It’s a very unconstructive thing for you to do if you simply keep accepting that something like faith is unreasonable when everyone else does it but not yourself or Weil. This is a very contradictory and fallacious way of thinking and arguing, in my view. I think that you are likely quite aware of this.
Moreover, as above, what Weil is doing is not conscious attention. Again, even if we truly did have souls etc. the thought of a soul would not be the souls itself. So, even if this were all true, this is still not conscious attention. There is simply no way out of this contradiction I’m afraid.
The Bible is written on several levels. At the surface it appears as accounts or stories but at a deeper level they are esoteric teachings.
The centurion in Luke 7 for example had the faith that could sustain the balanced man.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
The psychological meaning is within a story. The servant is a part of the psych it serves. Jesus' energy was capable of restoring the servant and balancing the centurion's "being" again.
Notice how the centurion was master over the lower and nothing in relation to the higher, This is a description of a psychologically healthy human heart and why Jesus celebrated it. A part of his psych needed help and the centurion received it. Again, it is levels of meaning inherent within levels of reality.
I of course agree that all spiritual texts are written in and can be interpreted on multiple levels.
I also however think it is dangerous to use verses from something like the Bible to corroborate your own ideas based on your own interpretation.
You see, I would interpret this verse to mean that Jesus is saying that faith is not a good thing
. He is using the example of the servants blindly following their leader out of faith
. He is specifically referring to the obedience of slaves to a master, which we all know is pointless, as faith.
By your interpretation then, you are equating faith in Weil to a slave blindly following a master, which has no end benefit for the slave. So, it doesn’t actually matter about the rest, this surely shows that faith is not a positive thing, which Jesus is suggesting.
Unless of course you consider slavery with no benefit to be a good thing, but I don’t think that Jesus would agree.
I think that you can read lots of books about the mechanics of car, but not only might it not help you drive one, you don't know what driving one is like until you do it. The same is true for conscious attention, and I think you would be better to actually try it rather than repeat one person's, whom you have never met, opinions about it. Just like that you don't get a vote on how many moons Jupiter has unless you look through a telescope and study astrophysics, you don't get to vote about what you think things like conscious attention are about until you have practiced it enough and studied and verified its principles. I think that when you do that you will drop these notions of it.
Very true, but what makes you think I haven't practiced these ideas?
Well, for one, you can’t practice an ‘idea’. You might say I know what was intended here and am being pedantic – however, had you engaged in these practices you would not make such a mistake, of this I am certain. Hence, I am certain that you have not practiced genuine conscious attention.
Secondly, your notions are not compatible with anyone who has practiced these things. Conscious attention does not allow you to conclude there is a god, levels of reality etc. It is not necessarily incompatible
with these beliefs of course, however, it does not lead one to conclude them, which is what you are suggesting. This is false, and so also allows me to conclude that you have not practised it.
Thirdly, you and Weil talk of ‘detachment’ rather than non-attachment. This is a very, very important distinction. Detachment implies and assumes something (or someone) who is detaching and that separation/conflict is implicit. Non-attachment refers to a lack of attachment. Again, this distinction is fundamental, though it might not appear so to a layman. I am forced to conclude therefore that you are a layman in regard to these practices, as was Weil.
Finally, you take certain concepts to be true a priori – namely the soul, existence of god, levels of reality and so on. Specifically the first of these, the belief in a separate individual being, is mutually exclusive with conscious attention. It is not “I (or my soul etc.) is consciously attending” but more like “there is conscious attention”. Again, this categorically confirms that you and Weil could not have been practicing conscious attention. It is something that requires no assumptions whatsoever, and no association with mental content.
So this makes me think that you couldn’t have practiced conscious attention.
Yet, how do you know that? It is obvious from your writings that you are not speaking from personal experience here. I think you shouldn't talk about things you have no knowledge of yourself.
But I have. I've experienced for example what John meant by testing the spirits. A person cannot sustain the state of presence through conscious attention in the presence of a dominant inner lie. When it does, presence is lost.
I simply don’t believe, for a moment, that you are awakened in the sense of the Buddha; in fact with all due respect I feel that is a ridiculous claim to make, when you simultaneously admit you are still in Plato’s cave. The Buddha’s awakening was referred to as “Supreme Enlightenment”. Are you seriously going to try to persuade yourself that you are Supremely Enlightened?
Again, your above notions of conscious attention are clearly repetitions of things you have read. Anyone who is familiar with the practices can see this instantly, just as anyone familiar with dolphins can tell a description of a whale is incorrect.
In regards to mystical experiences in general, anyone can obtain such things, they only need to meditate for long enough or, if they were so inclined and impatient, drop some LSD or something. I am not impressed in the slightest by claims that you have had the most mystical experiences, who’s dad can beat up who’s dad etc.; I am impressed only by the substance of what is communicated. Your desire to seek truth and so on necessitates a lot of strength and struggle with internal pressures, which is why the mystically inclined are capable of respecting others mystically inclined who have very different beliefs, much like you and I do. This goes with the territory. If we did not both at least believe ourselves to have experienced certain things, we would surely not be here or interested in these topics.
Nevertheless, while I can acknowledge this, I simply do not believe that you would claim such things as having the degree of understanding as the Buddha. If you, in hindsight, accept this as unlikely, then my point stands that you cannot reasonably be certain of things you have not experienced, much like if you were to hold beliefs regarding the taste of orange juice even if you have never tasted it.
Note well that you have repeatedly stated that you believe Weil to have “attained” things that you have not yourself, therefore, you cannot reasonably comment on the validity of such things.
I don’t think this is unreasonable, though I do think it requires for you to reevaluate how much of Weil’s and many other’s words you take on good faith alone.
The reason I refer to Simone is that she doesn't express a teaching. She lived her philosophy and other then in "The Need For Roots," recorded her experiences in her notes, letters and essays without any intent on publication.. Others found them, organized, and published them. That is why they are valuable. There is no reason to lie.
A false statement is a lie by definition; I have proven many of her statements, at least some beyond doubt, to be false statements and therefore lies. In fairness, I did explicitly state in my last post that these ‘lies’ do not imply intentional dishonesty; in fact I would, for the same reasons you note, expect there was no such thing involved. I do not consider her a purposeful manipulator or dishonest, simply someone who, verifiably, espoused non-truths, thus should be read with an open and informed mind.
The only thing she did that could be considered ‘immoral’ was if she purposely used her position as an educated person and her associations with the intelligentsia of the day to promote her own beliefs, while consciously bypassing her knowledge that they were both philosophically and scientifically invalid. No true philosopher nor scientist would ever dream of passing something as unconfirmed as her beliefs off as valid and reasonable, even if they held them to be true.
It is interesting that you should bring up that her theological works are gathered from notebooks. There is much contest as to what specifically she meant on a variety of topics, her precise conception of god being one of the many ambiguities. So, for you to acknowledge that her relevant works were born from her notes unintentionally is followed necessarily by the acknowledgment that much of her ideas are unconfirmed and contested, subject to lack of clear definition and not necessarily accurate to her thoughts. Thus, you contradict much of the certainty and confidence you have asserted in most of this thread.
Simone adds ideas to my path. Without a previous understanding I must admit I don't think I could have gotten through the book "Gravity and Grace." My path and Simone insists on verifying everything rather than belief so she isn't an idol for me. Her ideas compliment what I believe to be essential for a perennial tradition
However, you make no attempt to verify the belief in a soul, god and levels of reality. So it is actually false that you and Weil “insists on verifying everything”. That has been clearly established throughout this thread. Your idea of verification is if it “feels” right.
I appreciate that she adds ideas, however, you are very adamant on taking these ideas as true without reasonable cause. There are certainly many aspects to her work that would be understood very differently were you open to exploring other mystics as enthusiastically, and most importantly practising the various technologies prescribed therein.
Every person remotely interested in mysticism uses the term ‘perennial’ erroneously to refer to their conceptions and here you follow suit. In my view, it is frankly nonsense to claim that the ideas of your god, souls, conscious connections and levels of reality are part of the perennial tradition. To simply assert so is not helpful to your cause in any way. The perennial philosophy refers to a reoccurring undiscovered understanding that is independent of any one particular culture or time but appears in all cultures and all times. It partly defined by the fact that it is compatible with every philosophy in some sense. I imagine that you know very well what the perennial philosophy is, and that you also know that your beliefs are not it. So, in this light I consider it to be quite unfair and even dishonest for you to assert it as equatable when you know this not be the case.
Perhaps recall my notion of a man stranded on a desert island his whole life. The perennial tradition is that truth which even this man could realise, without any knowledge of history or anyone else. He could not, however, realise that reality is composed of levels, that a separate being that lives in another dimension created him out of mud nor that he sent his only son to be crucified by a group of people called the Jews in the Bronze Age, and you are quite aware of this.
There is really nothing perennial in your conception, so it is best to refrain from equating the two without proper understanding that this is so.
"Christianity precedes Christ"...I'm pretty sure the practice of accepting Jesus Christ as the only Truth doesn't precede Jesus Christ.
Your statement is no more meaningful or sensible than saying toasters existed before toast did. This is likely why some of the less sensitive atheists often refer to religious convictions as "delusion".
You say this because you underestimate the deeper meaning. The way to the father is through the son. Again, this is a vertical psychological cosmological expression. In linear life it is like saying for me living in NY, the way to North pole is through Canada.
The way to the highest realty requires going through a higher level of reality then our own. This was always known and part of a perennial tradition. Jesus actualized it.
It is immediately erroneous for you to presume things of which you have no knowledge, without at least justifying your assertion, such as here that I am underestimating the deeper meaning. When I assume things about you, such as that you don’t understand conscious attention, I justify and provide evidence for these assertions. So you cannot presume I have no knowledge of the deeper meanings. Irrelevant of whether that is true or not, simply because I think your interpretation has no bearing on what is being said, nor evidence, nor experience, is alone not a reasonable justification to assume such things.
Hopefully, as above I have established my position on ‘higher’ realities.
Again, I must state that I consider it incredibly distasteful of you to stain the perennial tradition with your personal conceptions, which are completely unrelated. I think it is an arrogant and foolish way to go, and incredibly disrespectful to the various great people who worked so very hard to stop this kind of thing from happening. If nothing else, it is simply misleading for others.
I would however certainly agree that much of the Bible is metaphorical; though I try not pick and choose as you do to only apply metaphor where it suits my previous assumptions. It is ironic to me that you interpret one part of the Bible to be a metaphor for another part, which you for no particular reason do not also consider to be a metaphor. You do not follow your methodology through, which means it is no longer a methodology, but an attempt to push a square peg in a round hole. I do not think you will be successful.
So, either she was deluded or moronic. If you consider her not to be either of these two things, then that is your right of course, but it is not based on fact, which is my only point.
Well she wasn't moronic. If she were she would not receive the high praise she does by so many religious and scientific minds.
Then you necessarily concede that she was deluded, and we agree.
What is our real life? For us, isn't it what we do? The contention is that the great majority of what we do is based upon conditioned imagination.
I've read that the fact that war exists is proof of our collective sleep. It is what we do. Conscious humanity would be incapable of war. Would you disagree?
Well, humanity is technically conscious already of course…but I know what you mean and would agree. External events are always representative of internal states. War is a manifestation of conflict, and conflict arises from separation. As long as there is a perception of separation, there will be conflict and thus, war, in its various forms. My contention is that your belief that separation, thus conflict and war, can be avoided by more separation is necessarily false. I feel that separation can only cease to exist if separation ceases to exist.
In my humble opinion, I think you should stop saying what you think god is for Weil. In this quote I have established that you were mistaken to attribute panentheism to her conception, since she herself has said differently. So on what basis can you assume that you have understood her correctly about everything else?
There are so many interesting potential questions arising from our discussion that hopefully can be gone into later on a philosophy board. One of these is actually what Panentheism is in contrast to Pantheism.
Pantheism considers god to be immanent, Panenthesim both immanent and transcendent. Since Weil believes god to be only transcendent, with creation being the manifestation of god’s love but not actually god, he is neither a Panthesist nor a Panentheist, but a monotheist.
Perhaps it is interesting to note that many if not most panenthesitic and pantheistic theologies are functionally indistinguishable from no theology at all i.e. atheism.
When I first read Simone's explanation for creation I marveled how she could paint such a picture. When I contrasted what I knew on cosmological creation with what she brought, it was a mind blower. Yet they both refer to Panentheism.
You have misinterpreted her. As above, Panenthesim is the belief that god is immanent and transcendent. In other words, that god both equals his creation and extends beyond it. Weil did not believe this, but believed that god was completely beyond his own creation and separate from it, while his creation was a manifestation of his love. Nothing whatsoever to do with Panentheism. This is monotheism, there is really no question about that, if you believe otherwise then you have a false belief.
Weil, unfortunately, did not change the way words are defined, nor that the meaning of certain words are not subject to opinion.
From a Wiki article that explains a bit of what she described as "absence
The Source of creation is outside creation yet exists within it through God's will which is involution and God's grace which allows for evolution. This is Panentheism.
No, really, it isn’t. You have misunderstood Panentheism and Weil. If the Universe is a creation of god’s ‘will’ or love then it is not a Panentheistic Universe. It is a monotheistic Universe. God in Weil’s account is fundamentally separate from creation, therefore, Weil’s account is not Panenthesim. This is not a value judgment, but a fact.
So since we have here established at least one irrefutable misconception you had about Weil, it is therefore reasonable for you to at least consider the possibility that you might have others.
In my opinion, which is no more than just that, rather than admit these mistakes, you are persistently trying to maintain a perfect aura around Weil, which is causing you to bypass your own logic and reason to make totally nonsensical and obviously irrational statements.
But why do you say this? She wasn't perfect. She had a soul that hungered for truth so put her body on the line for it. This isn't perfection. But her purity allowed her experiences only a few are capable of. Some wonder in France if she wasn't an incarnation of Joan of Arc. This isn't a suggestion of perfection but rather a response to a calling only a few experience.
I say this because in spite of the evidence, you are maintaining that she was wonderful and amazing and without fault. You also keep referring to her “purity”, as if it didn’t clearly refer to her virginity. You also keep calling her by her first name, which surely shows that you lack any objectivity when dealing with her. I have, taking the most recent example, shown that Weil was a monotheist not a panentheist. No doubt you will refuse to accept this and simply persist in believing things about Weil that are not true. This is just one of numerous example that shows you are twisting Weil (the reality) into Weil (your idea). Unfortunately, our ideas do not equal reality.
You seem to have no awareness of how obviously irrational some of your claims really are. Take the last line here – “a calling so few experience”. You have repeatedly said that you are not there yet, that you are not worthy etc., so you are admitting that you haven’t experienced this yet. Thus, you are admitting that you have no plausible reason to follow her every word. Moreover, how can you possibly know what other’s experience? This is the hallmark of someone in denial, which you would see so clearly if it were someone else blindly following some other mystic. You must apply the same eye to your own beliefs. Simply saying that you do, when we both know otherwise, suggests you don’t really want to understand, but to simply believe. Everything good you see in Weil comes not from Weil but yourself. You are your own greatest teacher. You were born and will die without Weil, why do you think you need her to live?
It is not however, as you perceive it, an "emotive" response - I am simply saying what is true. When the truth about Weil is said it sounds as if the speaker is angry, simply because unfavorable things are being said. Yet the truth is unfavourable to Weil. I am not angry/emotional at all, I am just saying what is the case. It is ironic to me that you cannot perceive this and instead filter the substance of what I have said through the presupposition that whatever I am saying is dishonest, even though that is not the case. You are seeing only the result of your own filters. "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you." Wise and relevant words.
But this brings us back to her profound insight:
Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.
- Simone Weil, Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the divine
the Simone Weil Reader, edited by George A. Panichas (David McKay Co. NY 1977) p 417
She admits the failings of religion and the value of atheism in the world but can you admit the possibility that at some point a supernatural part of yourself may open?
You are assuming then that I am already closed.
I would ask you to think very seriously for a moment here. Please try and just be as objective, rational and reasonable as you can. Just based on what I have said so far, how likely is it that someone who has clearly extensively studied Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sufism, Theology, Metaphysics, Philosophy, who practices meditation daily and who practices two types of yoga, does all of this for no particular reason and has no relevant experiences of anything these people are talking about?
You must understand that your judgment here comes from the fact that I don’t agree with you and nothing more. I don’t agree, therefore must be ‘closed’. You are also assuming, for example, that my atheism is not just a proper understanding of your theism. This is not a rational set of assumptions, in my view.
I think Weil is merely patronising atheists. Calling atheists a bunch of sleeping sheeple is not really valuing anything, simply feigning tolerance and decency. Fortunately, it is overtly transparent, in my opinion.
Can the essence of these lyrics from amazing grace be experiential or must it all be fantasy and escapism?
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Sure, why not. If you take me to be doubting genuine mystical experiences, then you mistake me.
From everything I've learned about the importance of attention and her descriptions as well as accounts about her, I feel safe to conclude that she had a very highly developed power of attention.
Okay, but my point is that reading and being convinced by words is not a good thing, nor a good way to make a judgment.
The second point is that you have read only accounts that are in her favour, which is again not a good way to make a judgment.
The only reasonable way to make such a judgment is to practice conscious attention the way it is originally described and then review her words. Do the experiments yourself, then verify the results.
However, it is also clear you must take certain cares that she did not take and not make certain assumptions, just like a scientist cannot assume he knows the result before the experiment, for this would be counter-productive.
I would say secondly that it is error to assume that we don't have this attention. Conscious attention is a practice accessible to all, which, just like learning piano, gets better with practice. And like piano, anyone can learn it.
Now that is another good discussion deserving a thread of its own: education. Yes conscious attention can be developed but we neither value it or have people capable of teaching it in public education. The goal of society now is to perpetuate imagination and fixate attention at the expense of conscious attention.
I certainly agree here, though no doubt would twist it a little differently. I wouldn't call it a 'goal' either really, so much as an unhelpful by-product.
But you ask an important question, I think - how can I be sure that she wasn't truly a high adept in this regard and so on. We can approach conscious attention, a form of meditation, like any other scientific experiment. In this case, the instrument is one's own nervous system, yet we still have the same controls as any other experiment. Because the experience is subjective, and cannot be demonstrated objectively, we are obliged to copy the experiment personally in order to verify them. This is the first point - since you admit that you lack a high level of conscious attention, you are therefore admitting that it is currently impossible for you to verify her experiments (since you cannot achieve this “level”). Hence, you are unwittingly admitting right there that you actually have no valid reason to believe her.
The second way of testing would be to compare her results with the results of other experimenters, just as you would do in any other science. It is immediately clear that her notions of a personal, separate god, levels of reality rather than levels of appearance, notions of transdimensional paradises that "pure" people go to, worship and encouragement of separation/conflict/violence, praise of self-pity, disgust at the natural human condition and nature itself and so on bear no similarities to the various other experimenters with these techniques. Hence, we have a second reason to safely conclude that she does not have a trustworthy account.
I don't believe her but rather don't doubt her. She arouses questions in me. She describes one experience. I am invited to make the necessary efforts to become able to experience.
Doubt is a questioning and lack of affirmative or negative belief. So, lack of doubt necessitates that you have one of those beliefs. Obviously, it is not a negative belief. Therefore, you believe her. Lack of doubt and lack of belief are mutually exclusive.
What would be much more reasonable is to doubt, is to suspend belief (i.e. be sceptical), until one has done the experiments. I really suggest doing this.
Simone Weil writes:
Last summer, doing Greek with T-, I went through the Our Father word for word in Greek. We promised each other to learn it by heart. I do not think he ever did so, but some weeks later, as I was turning over the pages of the Gospel, I said to myself that since I had promised to do this thing and it was good, I ought to do it. I did it. The infinite sweetness of this Greek text so took hold of me that for several days I could not stop myself from saying it over all the time. A week afterward I began the vine harvest I recited the Our Father in Greek every day before work, and I repeated it very often in the vineyard.
Since that time I have made a practice of saying it through once each morning with absolute attention. If during the recitation my attention wanders or goes to sleep, in the minutest degree, I begin again until I have once succeeded in going through it with absolutely pure attention. Sometimes it comes about that I say it again out of sheer pleasure, but I only do it if I really feel the impulse.
The effect of this practice is extraordinary and surprises me every time, for, although I experience it each day, it exceeds my expectation at each repetition.
At times the very first words tear my thoughts from my body and transport it to a place outside space where there is neither perspective nor point of view. The infinity of the ordinary expanses of perception is replaced by an infinity to the second or sometimes the third degree. At the same time, filling every part of this infinity of infinity, there is silence, a silence which is not an absence of sound but which is the object of a positive sensation, more positive than that of sound. Noises, if there are any, only reach me after crossing this silence.
Sometimes, also, during this recitation or at other moments, Christ is present with me in person, but his presence is infinitely more real, more moving, more clear than on that first occasion when he took possession of me.
I should never have been able to take it upon myself to tell you all this had it not been for the fact that I am going away. And as I am going more or less with the idea of probable death, I do not believe that I have the right to keep it to myself. For after all, the whole of this matter is not a question concerning me myself. It concerns God. I am really nothing in it all. If one could imagine any possibility of error in God, I should think that it had all happened to me by mistake. But perhaps God likes to use castaway objects, waste, rejects. After all, should the bread of the host be moldy, it would become the Body of Christ just the same after the priest had consecrated it. Only it cannot refuse, while we can disobey. It sometimes seems to me that when I am treated in so merciful a way, every sin on my part must be a mortal sin. And I am constantly committing them....
excerpted from WAITING FOR GOD by Simone Weil - Harper & Row, New York, 1951, translated by Emma Craufurd (title is also translated as "Waiting ON God")
This is beyond my experiences. I've read enough accounts to sense something real in it.
Okay, this clarifies a lot more things for me immensely. Please, if you oblige me, follow this part carefully, I would consider this very important.
What Weil is describing is called, for example, in Sanskrit “Dhāraṇā”, which is the sixth limb or stage of (Raja) yoga. This is not actually the same as conscious attention, nor meditation, this is so incredibly important to know.
Dhāraṇā is basically fixed attention - not the same as conscious witnessing which you were equating with conscious attention - which is the starting point for meditation in all disciplines. For instance, Zen asks its potential mediators to count the breaths from 1-10, and just like Weil, they must start again when the thoughts distract them. A similar method is using malas, or mantras in some yogas. In fact, this is exactly what Weil is doing – using a mantra to strengthen the attention which could later be used in meditation, though I fear she may not have reached that point. Thus, the attention is strengthened for use in meditation proper and this is what Weil is essentialy doing.
If as you say, this is beyond your experiences, then I can be certain again that you are not familiar with meditation nor conscious attention, for what Weil is describing is not either of these yet. She is describing a very, very basic starting point. If you were to practice this for a very short time, as long as you were disciplined, it would not be long before your experiences matched those of Weil.
There are many classic mistakes she makes however, which all disciplines mention and warn against. For instance, odd things simply start to happen during the approach to these practices and then eventually in the practices themselves. For Weil, as soon as something odd happened, she assumed it was Christ; this is very unfortunate and she may have never overcome this problem. When one begins experiencing things, they must not make any effort to conceptualise or identify the experiences, nor assume this or that is what is happening. It is vital that Weil did not allow these things distract her at first. Even if it was Christ, assuming so was responsible for her failure here.
Later on, she could turn her attention directly to these feelings and make them the objects, then that would become meditation – however, it is obvious that this did not happen, partly because she was identifying the feelings anyway which prevents genuine meditation by any standard technical definition.
So, I am very glad you have brought this quote up, it is very clear to me now what the problem was with Weil. It seems here that she mistook a very basic starting point for spiritual practice as an advanced spiritual awakening; this is actually not that unusual, as often even the early results of these technologies are startling to the non-scientifically or objectively minded, and since Weil has a very emotional mindset it is unsurprising. It is quite sad that she chose not to learn from other disciplines, had she had done this she would have quickly found that her experiences are actually not particularly advanced and relatively easy to acquire. The more strong-minded are able to continue without guidance of course, but they must be willing to doubt everything, start from scratch if you will, which Weil was unable to do.
It is amazing that she built her whole understanding from such a simple and beginner-level practice, however, it also explains perfectly why there are so many problems with it and also exactly why there are the contradictions and mistakes there are. Had she only been more willing to doubt and merely glance at some of the other mystics she would have realised her errors and also how she had only just started.
Since Weil and yourself believe in a isolatable self/soul, even though this is not constituted by any evidence, logic or reason other than it is entailed by your interpretations of the Bible, you necessarily think this suffering happens to you. Therefore, neither of you can have this belief and act selflessly, which is what Karma yoga is about. Action born out of self generates karma in Karma yoga, which is always bad. Karma for all intensive purposes simply means attachment in this context. No matter what goodness is perceived to have been generated, karma and attachment was also generated, thus nothing positive was achieved, only perhaps delayed.
Now this is another meaningful separate thread. What is the origin of our conscious attention? Does it come from us or do we supply the will and lesser level of attention to allow it to enter our common presence.
The former. There is no reason to believe otherwise. I think practice and theory makes this clear.
I believe that Meister Eckhart is right and that we have the seed of a soul rather then a soul which the seed can mature into.
"Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God." Meister Eckhart
Yes, but he is not talking about conscious attention, nor souls. He is talking about the realisation that all and the individual are not separate, a notion that is known as the ‘perennial philosophy’, funnily enough.
Clearing Karma as I understand it is what allows the seed to grow by letting the light in. It concerns our personality rather than the seed. We suffer ourselves. This is what makes "Know Thyself" so hard. At some point we have to suffer it to know it and let the light in.
No, clearing karma implies there is a ‘you’ that clears karma; a 'clearer'. Thus, there is attachment and desire and more karma. Nothing escapes or clears karma.
I think Know thyself means that one has to look within for truth, not without. The personality is not you. You make your own light, you don’t get it from anywhere. This is what Eckhart’s analogy of the seed means.
It is funny how Christians feel self-depreciation, self-hate and inferiority complexes are virtues.
This may happen in accordance with certain sects of Christendom but not with Christianity. It is precisely these forms of negative emotions that have to be seen as expressions of the egotism that denies the Christian experience.
It was you who was doing this with regards to Weil. You see it as a good thing to view yourself as inferior to Weil, who is much more worthy in your eyes. This is not humility but submission. Not only are you assuming you have a separate soul, you are assuming it is lower down the ranks than some other soul. You are creating the notion of better and worse. You are creating a self, so you can feel sorry for it. Since your idea of self is an idea, you are absorbed in an idea. Cave-paintings, we might say.
Perhaps you shouldn't believe everything you read and hear, and find out for yourself.
Yes, this is what is necessary. How can we verify if we are asleep in Plato's cave? It seems that Inner Empiricism and verification are necessarily related by becoming able to "Know Thyself."
How can we verify that we are in Plato’s cave at all is the first question you must ask. Otherwise it is totally meaningless.
The second part of your sentence is, I think, absolutely correct, which is why you must do it and not try to know thyself based on knowing Weil’s words, because this is knowing Weil’s self and not thyself.
Weil is saying that Christianity is great because it makes use out of suffering. Therefore, Weil is asserting that associating, attaching, identifying with suffering is a good thing, thus contradicting everything else she and you claim about non-association, non-attachment and non-identifying. Nice one Simone. There is nothing great about being selfish anyway.
This is again an important difference. Simone Weil referred to detachment and not attachment.
You are ignoring my actual point and just picking up words you just don’t like, it seems. This is very irrational.
As I said, she is attaching because she is attaching to a soul and her ideas of the Universe.
So, you can repeat yourself and ignore me if you really want, but is doesn’t matter, she is engaging in attachment, that is all there is to it unfortunately.
"Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached."
Since as Buddha said life is suffering, the suffering she is referring to is becoming able to consciously witness our own suffering for the purpose of re-birth. This is the meaning of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Well, I have already shown that she was not practising conscious attention but Dhāraṇā, a very basic form of practice. It is equivalent to placing a foot on a pebble (Weil) and climbing mount Everest (Buddha). Thus, anyone with knowledge of these practices, even if it were just in theory, can disregard her philosophy without question, since she did not have any experience that cannot be had by any novice after a very short time.
So, I suggest you study the people who are experienced in the more advanced practices and practice them yourself before you try to fit the Crucifixion in with Weil’s philosophy, since it is merely wasted energy otherwise.
Moreover, she is explicitly condoning self-pity and self-absorption, since embracing suffering and making ‘use’ of it necessarily requires these things.
Yes, we have to consciously witness our self absorption, self pity, and the all the rest of it normal for our acquired personality. This witnessing allows us to be seen from above.
Your notion of conscious attention based on Weil’s is inaccurate, it’s really simple as that I guess.
Obviously, you’re further convictions that such things allow us to be ‘seen from above’…I mean, you haven’t even offered any plausible reason why you think that, it is not logical, it is not reasonable, it is not based on evidence nor experience, so it doesn’t even need to be refuted it already is by its own nature.
Please, you seem like a clever guy – find out for yourself.
I feel I can assure you, with absolute confidence, that this "feeling" of significance applies to anyone or anything that even so slightly hints at the bigger picture. I am sure you feel this when you read any great works, like Eckhart or even non-Christian texts like the Tao Teh Ching, the writings of the Buddha or the Upanishads. Yet, no doubt you acknowledge that these all contradict each other is at least some ways. So what of these feelings? You are taking the position that you don't believe, rightly so, that this feeling is meaningless. Therefore, you believe without question everything that Weil says. However, I think you are creating a false dilemma. That feeling will persist even without faith and blind dogmatic following, so I claim, as an atheist. That feeling is something you have, not implicit in the works themselves - it goes where you go.
I don't see the contradictions since I accept that contradictions for us occur at the exoteric level.
This makes no sense. You can accept that something is contradictory and wrong because the philosophy in question says it is true even if it contradicts itself and is wrong. Nothing even slightly intelligible in this.
When what appears as a contradiction is impartially pondered I've found it reconciled from a higher perspective.
You have no experience with ‘higher perspectives’ that are anything like such things claimed by any other tradition, thus I am force to ponder this statement and conclude that you need to base your beliefs on the experiences on your own experiences. Claiming that you know you are correct because you are more enlightened than anyone else is…seemingly beyond help. I hope not, for your sake.
For example you mentioned before about the earth being flat. It seems absurd. Yet for ancients familiar with cosmology, levels of reality are like discs. From that perspective the earth is considered flat. From Jacob Needleman's book "A Sense of the Cosmos"
If I were condemning the ancients for their stupidity I would never be open to this possibility.
Its an interesting idea, unfortunately it simply isn’t one corroborated by any evidence. The ancients really did believe the Earth was flat, and the Bible really does say the Earth is flat.
Moreover, Eckhart is really being misused by the author here, there is nothing there that suggest he agreed with this notion, in fact everything else he ever said is not compatible with it.
You’re not just condemning the ancients, you’re condemning everybody who doesn’t agree as a sheep or asleep or unenlightened or unopened or impure etc. Actually, as I have now shown in this post, it was indeed Weil who was mistaking her very neophyte practices as the ‘higher levels’ – I use those words very loosely – and not more like kindergarten. This simply isn’t so.
I gave the yogic description for what she is doing above, however, in Buddhism the equivalent concept are the Jhānas, which are basically stages of meditative practices. She is describing the first Jhāna. The first one
. She has nine more to go.
In this light, it is much more sensible to realise that in fact, all the other mystics and great sages and so on in all of history were not all wrong; simply Weil alone was. So what? Every way in which she helped you isn’t lost by you admitting this. Whether good bad or ugly, you are the source of all these things, not Weil. You create the world within which you reside. That’s a good thing.
As an atheist, I have no prior commitment to any system. I do not have any need to believe and defend one particular dogma. I have no obligation that ‘this one’ has to be right. Yet, as a human being, I feel an indefinable attraction to something beyond appearance, absolutely. Yet I also know that this feeling should not persuade me no to bypass critical thinking, reason and doubt. I seek truth, not comfort, and will accept it whatever it is.
We agree. That is why Simone Weil is called the New Saint or the Saint with a mind. The universe is logical. The division between religion and science is an unnatural one. It continues since Religion has become secularized and science is motivated by secular agendas. Yet there are efforts to try to bring about unification. Basarab Nicolescu's Transdiciplinarity is an example. It is years ahead of its time but his description of the included middle will further serve to unite science and the essence of religion.
You criticise science for pending its belief prior to investigation and evidence i.e. scepticism. While you know I do no agree, I have my own criticisms of science which would restrict it from ever being unified with religion. Namely, that science presumes that the Universe is exclusively objective. However, we know this isn’t actually so. In any case, if science where to include subjectivity, which there are suggestions of needing to do in Quantum mechanics, it could never be unified with religion anyway, since religion is not subjective nor objective, it simply presumes things to be true without any evidence whether subjective or objective i.e. faith.
So, they are not really feasibly mutual in any meaningful way, I think.
The only kind of religion/science unification I could concede to would be along the lines of the British occultist Aleister Crowley when he wrote:
I place no reliance on virgin nor pigeon,
My method is science, my aim is religion.
This is a much healthier methodology, in my view. It is a pity Weil did not share this sentiment.
In addition, your assertion that scepticism (i.e. the thesis that one should suspend judgment until an investigation of the claims has taken place) of Christianity and anyone claiming to have a divine by-line to the truth is at best hopelessly naïve and at best horrifically ignorant, IMO. You are saying that we should believe Christianity and Weil, without question or investigating it, but just belief without any reason whatsoever, then everything will be fine. This is even more ridiculous than your assertion that toasters proceeded toast, again, IMO.
No, the idea isn't to believe or disbelieve but to experience life without the negative emotion of denial.
Yet you do positively believe. You have tried asserting that you don’t believe but lack doubt but I have shown there to be no difference. So you are not practicing this philosophy and nor is Weil anyway.
You can only deny something if you don’t believe it and not deny it if you believe it, therefore you must believe it anyway and completely contradict yourself.
I've found that I can only do it when in a better psychological state I know of as "presence." Otherwise it is just my usual patterns expressing themselves.
Well, as I have outlined above there are many, many more deeper psychological states that need to be explored before a valid understanding can be reasonably undertaken.
For example, one thing you might come to see, in my opinion, is that your desire to attach to ideas and believe them is also your usual patterns expressing themselves.
You have basically inferred that people like me, who doubt, question, investigate claims and think for themselves rather than just believe anything they read and are told are responsible for all the evils of the world. I think it is fair that you are no longer justified then for criticising me for being harsh, since you’ve basically just aid that I am responsible for everything bad ever.
No, not at all. You seem like a nice guy. Like Simone Weil wrote, you bring a necessary influence of purification needed in the world where the essence of religion has become secularized causing the damage it has.
Ahh, thanks. Attrition is a form of erosion, after all. In Lak’ech
My point was more than saying scepticism is responsible for all the evils in the world is not a positive attitude. Scepticism is lack of belief pending investigation. Therefore, you are saying that the evil in the world can be avoided if we just believe things for no reason. This doesn’t really make much sense to me.
Your evaluation of Weil has nothing to do with any evidence and nothing to do with your own personal experience. You do not literally experience levels of reality and conscious connections, you know you don’t.
I have worked with efforts to "Know Thyself." To do this requires first a separation between what consciously witnesses and what is witnessed. For example instead of saying that I am sitting at the computer, it is changed to It is at the computer and it is reading the screen. I'm trying to experience the distinction between it and I. Normally we are "it." There is no conscious experience of "it." Yet a person can begin to verify that self awareness or the perspective of I witnessing it is possible. If so, what are its limits and what denies us the ability to inwardly explore in this way without degenerating into fantasy?
So who is working with efforts to know thyself exactly? Do you see what I mean?
The problem I see here is very simple. It is not “It is at the computer” but “there is the experience of the computer”. You see, by implying an “it” you create an object. The point of conscious attention is centred on the subject. So, what you should be consciously attending to becomes something more like, in your case, “there is the experience of the mind objectifying the subject” which is followed by the observation of that observation and so on. Your mistake is making an object from the subject. The subject is precisely that which is not an object.
So, the ‘I’ that ‘works with efforts’ to know itself is not the self you want to know anyway. The ego comes to know itself as only thoughts, being a thought itself.
You are creating conflict between a perceived “I” and a perceived “it”; yet, all the while, there is the observation of this, therefore the observer is neither. You are perhaps forgetting that your thoughts of these things are still objectifications. Peace cannot arise from conflict – however, conflict can, and is, arising from peace, or “stillness”. This is very important, if not key, I would claim.
What you are describing is much like the ‘Mindfulness’ of the Buddhists. I would perhaps earnestly suggest reading up on it if not already familiar.
Perhaps also ask yourself, if one can know thyself, then who it is that who is doing the knowing, since it cannot be the subject which is known as an object.
You express very well what you are against but what are you for? Does your atheism experience an inner calling?
The absence of separation. (One might also say ‘union’ to make it positive, though this implies a “with something” and entails separation again).
I think the ‘inner calling’ is not felt by us as a calling so much as feeling of separation. When no separation is present, no calling is felt – or in a metaphorical sense, the call has been answered. Since reality is whole, separation only exists in the mind. Yoga Chitta Vrutti Nirodha
was Pantajali’s great way of saying what I am for and believe our ‘calling’ to reference – Yoga [union, absence of separation/conflict] Chitta [mind] Vrutti [psychic tendencies, mental ‘chattering’, mental attachments] Nirodha [extinguishing, ceasing] – thus, “the absence of separation is the ceasing of mental tendencies” or: “union is the ceasing of mental chatter”. This ‘union’ is what I believe we are calling for – the absence of conflict.
"The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is ... but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry. ..." Simone Weil
I believe this to be true with atheists I have known. They have been caught up in denial so much that they have closed off to the feeling of an inner calling. Have you experienced an inner calling atheism has helped you with other then with the denial of absurdity?
I simply consider atheism to be the best description for my theological conclusions, rather than a starting point, though likely for different reasons than other atheists.
I do actually agree with you and Weil that most atheists refuse to acknowledge certain inner conflicts. However, I also think theists refuse exactly the same. I think that theists pretend that their calling is being satisfied, when in fact they know, deep down, otherwise. Most likely they are afraid, since they see no other option – to accept that their theologies are fulfilling they think will lead to an itch that can never be scratched. A false dilemma, in my view. What is most amusing to me about both atheists and theists is that the technologies (I call them) or practices that are at the center of all of this are accessible to all and have been verified by everyone who practices them with enough diligence. It is so odd how so many theists and atheists just hypothesise instead of simply doing the experiments themselves and finding out, rather than simply believing stuff.
Not one iota of her life demonstrates that she needed to understand, only that she tried to understand something she had already assume true for no reason. I have showed this by analysis of her writings, her works, her biography and using simple logic and reason in addition to historical fact. If you choose to insist the opposite, then of course that is your right, but you do so in spite of not just there not being any evidence, but also in spite of loads of evidence to the contrary.
But before her mystical experiences she was a Marxist and an atheist. She didn't believe or assume anything to be true. That is what is so remarkable. It was only the purity of her need for truth that could outgrow her belief in Marxism.
Well, she was born a Jew and studied many religions; by most accounts I think it would be fair to say she was more of an agnostic. In any case, as you admit, she was a Marxist. Thus she believed and assumed Marxism to be true. She also, her whole life, believed chastity to be an apt spiritual choice. Therefore, she did believe things w