Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Spiritual Sickness

Great post at One Cosmos.

It begins:

Mankind’s deepest problems are universal and existential. But solutions to these will problems vary from person to person and culture to culture, based upon insight, maturity, intelligence, and revelation.

It is a truism that ideas have consequences, but even ideas must take a back seat to the values that shape the ideas one is capable of thinking. One of the greatest benefits of a proper religious grounding is that very early on you internalize the value that your problems are your fault and that it is essentially a sin to externalize blame onto others. This is one of the sharpest divides between classical liberals and leftists, the latter of whom propagate the doctrine of victimology, i.e., the systematic shifting of blame to others. For the leftist mind, to the extent that your life is a failure, it is not your fault, but because of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, white European maleism, whatever.

The point of this exercise is not to identify any real entity but to create a locus of blame, so that one’s existential problems may be externalized and spuriously relieved. The more mature culture is the one that produces individuals who locate existential problems within, and can both tolerate and transcend them--for example, tolerating the constitutional envy we discussed yesterday. There is no way to eliminate envy “from the outside,” which, after all, is why it is one of the commandments. The commandment does not say, “you shall try to eliminate envy by empowering a huge collective to give to each envious person according to his insatiable needs.”

The envious person unconsciously says, “if I can’t have it, then no one can. I will destroy the object of my envy.” Thus we can see how unhinged envy is at the basis of pure nihilism, and why our enemies are so frightening. Think of Hitler’s scorched earth policy of destroying every square inch of land as his armies retreated. If he could not rule the world, then he would take the world down with him. This is what is so frightening about the prospect of nihilsts with weapons of mass destruction, for they truly do not care about the world so long as the world does not comport with their fantasies of how it ought to be.

Clearly, the Islamists operate by this principle, and one naturally worries about the extent to which normative Islam is informed by the same toxic attitude. For even if we were to disregard all of the hideous violence that emanates from the religion of peace, we would still conclude that this is a religion of perpetual outrage based upon the behavior of its most visible spokesholes, such as CAIR or Juan Cole.

The constant perception of victimization--even amidst the outrageous and widespread victimization of others--must come from something deep within Islam itself, unless this is merely a modern deviation. Despite it all, I am still open to that possibility, although I haven’t been able to find a single example of a truly interior Islam outside Sufism (which in my view is more Vedanta than Islam). In proportion to the billion or so normative Muslims, there are only a handful of Sufis, and frankly, even many of them tilt toward the dark side...

And then keeps right on going.

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