Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Berithic Wanderer

[forthcoming in Serial Killing: A Philosophical Anthology, edited by Edia Connole and Gary J. Shipley]

The Berithic Wanderer
Daemonus Monsmoranciensis

The soul I took from you was not even missed
– Black Sabbath, “Lord of this World,” Master of Reality

I. Late Termination
To each person born in time God sends another.
Their job is to murder you and then your mother.

II. Feel Free
No one is what he thinks he is or what he isn’t,
So please kill without care and make it unpleasant.

III. Life without the ‘F’
When a life is taken I am always nearby,
Not beast or man or angel, but their common lie.

IV. Obolus
Murder and victim are two sides of one fate.
This one finds out too early and that one too late.

V. Lodestone
Homicide is a magnet drawing us to hell.
By pulling downwards, it raises itself as well.

VI. Surprise, Surprise
As the noose turns one more sweet face into a mask,
Watch the lack of memory not mean (s)he did not ask.

VII. Who Kills Who
No one kills anybody, they just kill themselves,
Keeping the innocent at twelve-thousand times twelve.

VIII. On Obedience
Be still and know God loves the Devil more than man,
For he alone obeys and executes His plan.

IX. Do the Math
Each murder is one in an infinite series.
Dare not to practice without knowing the theories.

X. Die Young
None would know murder if all listened to the truth:
To die every moment from old age until youth.

XI. From On High
Could my victims see me swooping from high above
They would feel and know I come bearing only love.

XII. Crystal Wound
He longs to cut you open into a clarity
Sharper than the line between time and eternity.

XIII. Tears of Blood
One reason love rips out your heart and blinds your eyes
Is that angels are also demons in disguise.

XIV. Dubito Ergo Sum
A killer always gives his prey a sure way out,
A door to be located and unlocked by doubt.

XV. Time of Death
Sees the one who perceives, who is not too clever,
A rose carved through the skin blossoming forever.

XVI. In Remembrance of Me
To spill blood without drinking it is the real crime,
To waste even one drop of such God-given wine.

XVII. Leaky Vessel  
The purpose of evil is to thicken the plot.
Thus seeps matter each moment from Him Who Is Not.

XVIII. Life-Struck
Soul is in body as place in earth, tree in ground,
Bird in air, air in cloud, and lightning in wound.

XIX. Open and Shut Case
Everyone knows who did those unspeakable things:
The puppet in the mirror who pulls all your strings.

XX. The Swoon
Fall prostrate before the rare longing which robs life
Of itself, whetting the heart’s eye upon its knife.

XXI. The Officers of Insanity
Woe to they who want to police this sad, sick world,
The inmate-guards in all corners of the Earth curled.

XXII. True Gold Mine
Wise choice springs with the whole sphere out of one’s navel,
Stupid ones elect to look as Cain upon Abel.

XXIII. Eye of the Beholder
Evil is simply good to the minimum degree.
But who will understand that? Who wants to see?

XXIV. A Stupendous Fact
To no less love the ones who make the living dead,
Drop the umbrella between the One and your head.

XXV. Unless Spoken To
To think the crime preventable is not absurd.
A witness saw everything—did not say a word.

XXVI. Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans
Everything about the horribly gruesome scene
Shines with numinous absence of something unseen.

XXVII. All That Is Written
To no longer care about this world or the next—
That is the way of living good and evil’s text.

XXVIII. Be With Me Today
Tis a total lie to believe that all shall be well.
Everything outside the NOW of paradise is hell.

XXIX. The Narrow Gate
Suicide is too late, natural death never on time.
The only way out of here is a perfect crime.

XXX. Good Old Days
Not that long ago, before serial killers,
There were hanged peasants, impaled knights, severed martyrs.

XXXI. Cherchez la Tomie
Whatever the solution, whatever the problem,
Always kill the messenger and blame the victim.

XXXII. To Embrace the Inevitable
Grace falls on whoever remembers in sorrow
That sinners of today are saints of tomorrow.

XXXIII. The Seventh Name of That Wherein I Suffer
You will never realize the Truth, in any hour,
Without first loving that which most fears its power.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Floating Tomb of Black Metal Theory

Immense cosmic visions emerge from the slow intervention of oblivion. 
– Fides Inversa, ‘VII’, Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans

Love like a magnet is, it draws me into God, / And what is greater still, it pulls God into death. 
– Angelus Silesius, The Cherubic Wanderer

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spheresy 1693 [excerpt]

[co-authored with Alina Popa, forthcoming from Schism Press]

Spheresy is a non-ending manual for committing spheresy, a constant collection of imperatives and infinitives to keep you moving in spiral spheres.
To be a spheretic means forever to stay fixed on the spot of fidelity to the unbounded intelligence that moves between intuition and bewilderment.
“The intuitive form of intelligence can be called ‘a dynamic intelligence,’ since it can conceive movement, such as a spherical spiral, which is objectively incomprehensible” (R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz).

Take Spheresy with you everywhere, in order to see where you really are, in order to never return.

  1. Rot the known into the unknown.
  2. Swallow the aphorism only after it becomes a spiral sphere.
  3. (To) never again fail to please the beloved in thought, word, or deed.
  4. Spend not extra for the lifetime guarantee of being malignantly useless.
  5. To draw that which has no image other than itself.
  6. Meditate diurnally on the inexistence of any person worth replacing.
  7. To die listening to yourself saying your own name.  
  8. Constantly increase the chances of being burned on a spiral stake for spheresy.
  9. Take the hidden detour into every line’s electric chair.
  10. To fly to one’s throne on wings of a crypt.
  11. Sense how the devil stares at you through your nostrils.
  12. Measure every statement by the question: is it a spiral sphere?
  13. Bury me in the tomb that reality is digging for itself.
  14. Steal the heart of the thief who is stealing everything from you.
  15. Smile such a smile that all souls in paradise taste your sorrow.
  16. To have no dreams other than this one.
  17. To wake up murdered by the objectivity of the real.
  18. Out-survive the loop of consciousness immortally bit to death by its own tail.
  19. Hear something that sounds like everything listening to itself.
  20. Say something to distract me from seeing that your lips trembled.
  21. To render naked the reason you like to say things.
  22. Stop distinguishing simultaneousness from consecutiveness.
  23. Let absolute time happen to you now.
  24. Spin around your axis until you become discontinuous to yourself.
  25. To have been born beheaded.
  26. Don't be deceived by the tenderness of your thought-virus.
  27. Surrender to your autophagous tics.
  28. Take it anymore.
  29. Listen to nothing that tells you what it has to do.
  30. Evacuate any trace of meaning from your mouth.
  31. Neutralize all punctuation marks.
  32. Let the junk selves take over.
  33. Lick the wounds cut in my flesh by your thoughts.
  34. Make an appointment to stop pretending not to know that it would come to this.
  35. Lower your smile into the well of my eyes.
  36. To funambulate abyss on one’s umbilical cord.
  37. Turn to maximum the volume of the death of things.
  38. Broadcast peak-abyss in real time.
  39. To be nothing more than preemptive auto-laughter at one’s own joke.
  40. Write only what the partiture of silence dictates.
  41. Bring me to sleep with your roaring lullaby.
  42. Hear the silence of thought refusing to think.
  43. Die on the spot by admitting what you already know.
  44. Relax: I got the sly hint without seeing you drop it.
  45. Console thyself that this moment is neither the last nor the next.
  46. Stop giving to everyone the misfortune of being you.
  47. Smash all guillotines in the mirror of beheading.
  48. Decapitate photography with a picture of your severed head.
  49. Burn and consume thyself in unfelt desire.
  50. Feel free to perish by failing to hit the target precisely.
  51. Die trying to annihilate death in life.
  52. Betray sigh-analysis into the contingency you forgot to become.  
  53. To see that you are in more pain than you will ever know.
  54. Use your tongue to invert me into a spiral sphere.
  55. Intoxicate thyself on untasted wine.
  56. Drown in thirst for the true desert.
  57. Wait here until time stops procrastinating.
  58. Find consolation in still missing yourself if you did not exist.
  59. Spell the name your ashes will sigh.
  60. Be too smart to trust your mind’s belief in itself.
  61. Maximize actual impossibility.
  62. Hesitate while giving up your twisted hand in total abandonment.
  63. Pluck thyself into an unpublishable florilegium.
  64. To headlessly escalate the tail-chase into a spiralvore.  
  65. Give thanks to the ocean for swimming us into ourselves.
  66. To leap like salt in the wine-dark sea.
  67. Solely pursue knowledge of stupidity.
  68. To not see through eyes covered by the dust of your logic.
  69. Think that the thought you are thinking has just inhaled its own ashes.
  70. Fill the emptiness inside with the space between thoughts.
  71. Hang from the tip of your breath and see with the spark of your tear how you fall into the lump in your throat.
  72. To taste nothing but the tip of the arrow in your heart.
  73. Consider the possibility that your brain is a stillborn baby.
  74. Permit the imperative to be eaten by itself.
  75. Lose me the way you cannot admit to yourself that you want to.
  76. Secretly embarrass yourself.
  77. Bless the day when this body applauds you for cutting off its head.
  78. To open paradise in the pain of knowing there is nothing you can do.
  79. Play with my head as in floats in the vat of your blood.
  80. To shamelessly bottle your tears in the hope that no one will ever find them.
  81. Constantly repeat what you have never said or done.
  82. Feed your marrow on the absence of a life to lose.
  83. Refuse absolutely to go along with yourself any more.
  84. Remain calm if God wants to be made by you.
  85. Blame everything for this marvelous tendency to fall into mutual trance.
  86. Daydream only to attain reality.
  87. Imprison the correlation in an impenetrable tower of amniotic time.
  88. To impregnate yourself with the birth of pleasure.
  89. Sigh yourself backwards into absolute fear of breathing.
  90. Quake apocalyptically in infinite recursion of floating tombs.
  91. To levitate folly to the very bottom of gravity.
  92. Drown by following your heart to the ocean floor.
  93. See space weep for time, hear time laugh at space.
  94. Pay attention to the Stay Out sign posted everywhere.
  95. Feel free to cling to me if you do not know what else to do.
  96. Practice using the lifesaver’s hole for drowning.
  97. Never want more of what you already are.
  98. Take the path of honesty to self-destruction.
  99. Accept no substitutes for the finitude born from extinction.
  100. Swallow me because I am yours.
  101. Grow confident in all you do not know.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Bask in the Glory of Bewilderment

  1. To perish with every breath in overwhelming astonishment.
  2. To be so far gone that you never arrived.
  3. Have no idea.
  4. To be so clueless that every clue is itself eternally stunned by its own inexistence.
  5. Obliterate multiverses by means of bewilderment.
  6. Become so lost in disbelief that everything is absolutely, unintelligibly true.
  7. Wonder so deeply why anything is happening at all that it never did.
  8. Mercilessly send all your questions back to the omnipresent front lines.
  9. Fail to meet me for fear of being swallowed alive by an enormous question.
  10. Fall into the gaping abyss under your feet until you shoot up out of the ground.
  11. Writhe in unknowing.
  12. Live in the midst of continual well-coordinated all-out attacks upon everything you ever felt or thought was true.
  13. To always already be inexplicably pierced by yet another incommunicable arrow.
  14. Watch the world vanish like mist before the glorious sun of secret maximal confusion.
  15. Leave me behind so fast that you bump into me in infinite regress.
  16. To give everyone a look that shows what they are in for.
  17. Lay your life aside in favor of becoming a cosmically autophagous query.
  18. See human knowledge for what it is: a messy mass of poorly formulated search terms.
  19. Drink wine of bewilderment until the tears wash away your face.
  20. To erase every trace of yourself with a free lifetime supply of the Ointment of Mystification.
  21. Think about something by evaporating the thought.
  22. Act in way that effectively accuses everyone of insufficient astonishment.
  23. Follow yourself off the cliff of total bafflement.
  24. Leap for joy into spontaneous senseless distress like a child into the arms of its mother.
  25. Indulge profoundly in the pleasure of forgetting everything people say.
  26. Offer everything as a reward to anyone who successfully steals all your answers.
  27. Infinitely reverse the ontological order of answer and question.
  28. Immediately become incapable of following any directions other than the irrepressible hunch that you are absolutely and hopelessly lost.
  29. Dive into delightful epistemological despair past the point of really needing to do away with yourself.
  30. Abandon inner connection to all persons who actually think they know what they are talking about.
  31. Exploit your friends to bust all of you out of the prison of knowledge.
  32. Deliberately refuse to know, no matter what the world offers you.
  33. Develop courage for greater and greater bewilderment by remembering all who have died in the depths of ignorance.
  34. To wonder why one ever bothered to . . .
  35. Fail to believe how you ever fell for it.
  36. Make no difference between small and great matters that do not make sense.
  37. Know not what to do, think, feel, or say.
  38. Place no secret hope in your absolute bewilderment.
  39. Figure out a way off the island of being that does not involve figuring it out.
  40. Suspect everything.
  41. Renounce your bewilderment for nothing (except greater and greater bewilderment).
  42. Know so little that the whole universe flocks to your for meaningless questions.
  43. To let no light ever escape the black hole of your non-knowledge.
  44. Offer no explanations, give nothing away.
  45. Die of unknowing.
  46. Remain unintelligible, especially to omniscience.
  47. Thrive by robbing yourself in the apophatic alleys of radically immanent auto-blindness.
  48. Eclipse all knowing in the perfect pitch blackness of your pupil.
  49. Wonder why until why itself never made any sense in the first place.
  50. Expose your whole system to the plague of inexplicability.
  51. Hypothetically blame everything on everything in order to be even more astonished by all that remains unaccounted for.
  52. Crack open your skull like lightning on the stone of pure astonishment.
  53. Bask in the glory of bewilderment.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Essay on Forgiveness

[written, in 2011, for Don Stevens]

Looking for a way to begin—a chance to start without knowing how—I take a ‘fal’ or sortes from the poetry of Hafiz. My finger finds this line:

When there is no purity, one are the Ka’ba and the idol-house.[1]

Encountering these words immediately suggests two insights. First, that forgiveness is a work of purification on which rests the very possibility of authentic religion, that is, religion as the practical love of Reality as opposed to the mere veneration of self-projected idols, what Meher Baba defines as the religion of life.

The Religion of Life is not fettered by mechanically repeated formulae of the unenlightened, purblind and limited intellect. It is dynamically energized by the assimilation of Truth, grasped through lucid and unerring intuition, which never falters and never fails, because it has emerged out of the fusion of head and heart, intellect and love.[2]

Second, that the work of forgiveness, for all of its difficulty and seeming impossibility, proceeds paradoxically, not unlike the act of taking a ‘fal’ from a text, through the freedom of an essentially negative condition, in the midst of the experience of not knowing, not remembering, not worrying.[3] Real forgiveness is necessarily on the way to forgetfulness, a state of being that, rather than leading to oblivion, proceeds by the mind’s own perception that there exists an infinitely important unknown what at once beyond and essential to itself. As Meher Baba explains, such forgetful forgiveness arrives at real remembering.

[W]hen the same mind tells him that there is something which may be called God, and, further, when it prompts him to search for God that he may see Him face to face, he begins to forget himself and to forgive others for whatever he has suffered from them. And when he has forgiven everyone and has completely forgotten himself, he finds that God has forgiven him everything, and he remembers Who, in reality, he is.[4]

Here we must consider the relation between these two dimensions of forgiveness, between what it is and how it is. The necessity of the act of forgiveness defines the identity of forgiveness and its act. Over and against the narrower impulse towards forgiveness as project, towards what can be accomplished by means of it, what matters here above all is that one forgives, regardless of the result. The external power of forgiveness, its ability to open ways out of intractable individual and collective problems, rests wholly within its intrinsic value, in its being its own ‘reward’. This means that forgiveness is not simply a virtue or something good to do, but a true value in the sense elaborated by Meher Baba.

Mistakes in valuation arise owing to the influence of subjective desires or wants. True values are values which belong to things in their own right. They are intrinsic, and because they are intrinsic, they are absolute and permanent and are not liable to change from time to time or from person to person. False values are derived from desires or wants; they are dependent upon subjective factors, and being dependent upon subjective factors, they are relative and impermanent and are liable to change from time to time and from person to person.[5]

So forgiveness demonstrates the truth of its value by virtue of being itself an exercise in freedom from subjective factors. In these terms, the impulse to forgive is to be understood as something different than a desire or will for something. Instead, forgiveness is ordered toward the actualization of its own truth, the making real of its own potential to be.[6] One forgives, not so much by aiming at some concrete end, such that one could definitively arrive at the success or completion of forgiveness, but rather by staying within the truth of forgiveness, by not transgressing the imperative to forgive. Thinking of forgiveness in this way, as the activity of remaining inwardly free from (and not necessarily rid of) the forces that cannot forgive, helps to clarify the deep relationship between forgiveness, spontaneity, and forgetfulness. Meher Baba’s words on this relationship are inextricably linked with the idea of freedom from results. With regard to the practice of forgiveness as a kind of good work, we find the general principle that service or work bound to the objective good of others, though “of immense spiritual importance,” is from the perspective of the goal of life, a kind of interminable dead-end.

[A]s long as the idea of service is . . . tied to the idea of results, it is inevitably fraught with a sense of incompleteness. There can be no realisation of Infinity through the pursuit of a never-ending series of consequences. Those who aim at sure and definite results through a life of service have an eternal burden on their minds.[7]

The principle of freedom from results is defined more absolutely in Meher Baba’s description of the purposelessness of divine, infinite existence, our arrival at which is the very goal, or purpose, of everything.

Reality is Existence infinite and eternal. Existence has no purpose by virtue of its being real, infinite and eternal. Existence exists. Being Existence it has to exist. Hence Existence, the Reality, cannot have any purpose. It just is. It is self-existing. Everything—the things and the beings—in Existence has a purpose. All things and beings have a purpose and must have a purpose, or else they cannot be in existence as what they are. Their very being in existence proves their purpose; and their sole purpose in existing is to become shed of purpose, i.e., to become purposeless. Purposelessness is of Reality; to have a purpose is to be lost in falseness. Everything exists only because it has a purpose. The moment that purpose has been accomplished, everything disappears and Existence is manifested as self-existing Self. Purpose presumes a direction and since Existence, being everything and everywhere, cannot have any direction, directions must always be in nothing and lead nowhere. Hence to have a purpose is to create a false goal. Love alone is devoid of all purpose and a spark of Divine Love sets fire to all purposes. The Goal of Life in Creation is to arrive at purposelessness, which is the state of Reality.[8]

Forgiveness enters this purpose-enflaming fire. Rupturing the chain of never-ending consequences, it relieves beings from the burden of results and opens the way into actually living within the inherent purposelessness of Reality. Far from fleeing life, forgiveness gives life back to itself as the very place of freedom.

This realisation must and does take place only in the midst of life, for it is only in the midst of life that limitation can be experienced and transcended, and that subsequent freedom from limitation can be enjoyed.[9]

Felt from the perspective of this goal, forgiveness is less a duty or responsibility than the radical activation of the seemingly passive power of not-worrying, a very difficult and profoundly enjoyable exercise in the freedom of one’s inherent divinity. The exercise of forgiveness accordingly has a spontaneous character or style. Practicing it might be called a form of immediate cooperation between the impasse of experience and the ultimate independence of reality.

[B]y virtue of being absolutely independent it is but natural for God to exercise His infinite whim to experience and enjoy His own infinity. To exercise a whim is always the mark of an independent nature, because it is whimsicality that always colours the independent nature.[10]

Meher Baba thus places forgiveness within the broader category of positive forgetfulness, a happy state combining awareness of and non-reaction to both adverse and favorable circumstances that flowers in conspicuous creativity.[11]

Positive forgetfulness . . . and its steady cultivation develops in man that balance of mind which enables him to express such noble traits as charity, forgiveness, tolerance, selflessness and service to others. . . . Positive forgetfulness, although it lies at the very root of happiness, is by no means easy to acquire. Once a man attains this state of mind, however, he rises above pain and pleasure; he is master of himself. This forgetfulness, to be fully effective for the spiritual life, must become permanent, and such permanence is only acquired through constant practice during many lives. Some people, as a result of efforts towards forgetfulness in past lives, get spontaneous and temporary flashes of it in a later life, and it is such people who give to the world the best in poetry, art and philosophy, and who make the greatest discoveries in science.[12]

The practical crux of positive forgetfulness lies in this developmental relation between steady cultivation and spontaneity, in the fostering of an impulse not to react that bears abiding and unforeseeable fruit, what Meher Baba calls “manifestations of genuine spontaneity of forgetfulness.”[13] The doing of forgiveness resides in dynamic relation to the inevitable unfolding of perfect, universal individuality.     

The limited individuality, which is the creation of ignorance, is transformed into the divine individuality which is unlimited. The illimitable consciousness of the Universal Soul becomes individualised in this focus without giving rise to any form of illusion. The person is free from all self-centred desires and he becomes the medium of the spontaneous flow of the supreme and universal will which expresses divinity. Individuality becomes limitless by the disappearance of ignorance.[14]

The imperative to forgive must thus be understood in the broader phenomenal context of the paradoxical correlation between habit and freedom. Forgiveness is spontaneous, but its free exercise is a development of habitual practice, the liberating result of ongoing intentional action.            

The life of true values can be spontaneous only when the mind has developed the unbroken habit of choosing the right value.[15]

The crucial distinction to be drawn, the distinction across which the decision to forgive operates, is thus between habits that bind and habits that set free, between, on the one hand, actions whose impressions [sanskaras] limit life and intensify separateness and ignorance, and, on the other, actions whose impressions liberate life and generate knowledge and enjoyment of its inherent unity—a spontaneous state of being also known as love.

In love . . . there is no sense of effort because it is spontaneous. Spontaneity is of the essence of true spirituality. The highest state of consciousness, in which the mind is completely merged in the Truth, is known as Sahajawastha, the state of unlimited spontaneity in which there is uninterrupted Self-knowledge.[16]

The core of this distinction (between binding and liberating actions) lies in the inevitable deconstruction of the ego, “the false nucleus of consolidated sanskaras.”[17] The restrictive and ultimately eroding ego is the recurring obstacle on the path of experience, the imprisoning framework that each and every action works to reinforce or destroy.   

Any action which expresses the true values of life contributes towards the disintegration of the ego, which is a product of ages of ignorant action. Life cannot be permanently imprisoned within the cage of the ego. It must at some time strive towards the Truth.[18]

As a mode of relation to this inevitable disintegration or decay of the limited ego—limited because it persists only in ignorance and active denial of the inviolable unity of all life[19]—forgiveness is definable as a movement of giving experience over to the unitive gravity of spiritual reality. Taking direct action against the very constraints of action, against the psychic chains that would determine it as re-action, against the interminable self-condemnations encapsulated in the separative rallying cry of never forget!, forgiveness forcefully and non-violently asserts the absolute spontaneity of reality, the inescapable freedom of which the pseudo-whims of personal interest are a pale shadow.              

At the pre-spiritual level, man is engulfed in unrelieved ignorance concerning the goal of infinite freedom; and though he is far from being happy and contented, he identifies so deeply with sanskaric interests that he experiences gratification in their furtherance. But the pleasure of his pursuits is conditional and transitory, and the spontaneity which he experiences in them is illusory because, through all his pursuits, his mind is working under limitations. The mind is capable of genuine freedom and spontaneity of action only when it is completely free from sanskaric ties and interests.[20]

Forgiveness is an act of relinquishing interest, not for the sake of becoming disinterested, but on behalf of a deeper interest that absolutely exceeds the framework of determined interests. The one who forgives is not uninterested in the particular problem that forgiveness addresses. The one who forgives is instead hyper-interested in the problem, interested to a degree that is totally uncontainable by the relation to the problem as object of worry or negative concern. Forgiveness puts into play a profound need to relate to reality in a non-reactive way, to become more intimate with it precisely by remaining outside the confining and ultimately uninteresting patterns of self-interest. Forgiveness thus partakes of the “divinely human life” embodied in the Avatar whose appearance, like the advent of forgiveness itself, takes place in the middle of seemingly terminal conflict:

The Avatar appears in different forms, under different names, at different times, in different parts of the world. As his appearance always coincides with the spiritual birth of man, so the period immediately preceding his manifestation is always one in which humanity suffers from the pangs of the approaching birth. . . . There seems to no possibility of stemming the tide of destruction. At this moment the Avatar appears. Being the total manifestation of God in human form, he is like a gauge against which man can measure what he is and what he may become. He trues the standard of human values by interpreting them in terms of a divinely human life. He is interested in everything but not concerned about anything. The slightest mishap may command his sympathy; the greatest tragedy will not upset him. . . . He is only concerned about concern.[21]

This does not at all mean, however, that forgiveness should be conceived as a solely individual process of human spiritual self-development. Like the unseen work of the God-Man that occurs on all levels of being and is only partially perceivable to humans,[22] the mystery of forgiveness is that it is radically for the other and the world itself. One does not ring the doorbell only for oneself, for the ringing of it effects a real alteration in the objective world, in oneself and others. This fact is essential to the meaning of Meher Baba’s description of the “charity of forgiveness”:

People ask God for forgiveness. But since God is everything and everyone, who is there for Him to forgive? Forgiveness of the created was already there in His act of creation. But still people ask God's forgiveness, and He forgives them. But they, instead of forgetting that for which they asked forgiveness, forget that God has forgiven them, and, instead, remember the things they were forgiven—and so nourish the seed of wrongdoing, and it bears its fruit again. Again and again they plead for forgiveness, and again and again the Master says, I forgive.

But it is impossible for men to forget their wrongdoings and the wrongs done to them by others. And since they cannot forget, they find it hard to forgive. But forgiveness is the best charity. (It is easy to give the poor money and goods when one has plenty, but to forgive is hard; but it is the best thing if one can do it.)

Instead of men trying to forgive one another they fight. Once they fought with their hands and with clubs. Then with spears and bows and arrows. Then with guns and cannon. Then they invented bombs and carriers for them. Now they have developed missiles that can destroy millions of other men thousands of miles away, and they are prepared to use them. The weapons used change, but the aggressive pattern of man remains the same.

Now men are planning to go to the moon. And the first to get there will plant his nation's flag on it, and that nation will say, It is mine. But another nation will dispute the claim and they will fight here on this earth for possession of that moon. And whoever goes there, what will he find? Nothing but himself. And if people go on to Venus they will still find nothing but themselves. Whether men soar to outer space or dive to the bottom of the deepest ocean they will find themselves as they are, unchanged, because they will not have forgotten themselves nor remembered to exercise the charity of forgiveness.[23]

Forgiveness is charity, not only because it expresses divine love, but because it actually gives something to the other, something better than all other possible gifts. What does forgiveness give? The answer lies in connection to the question of sanskaras or impressions, the very of medium of conscious experience.

There are two aspects of human experience—the subjective and objective. On the one hand there are mental processes which constitute essential ingredients of human experience, and on the other hand there are things and objects to which they refer. The mental processes are partly dependent upon the immediately given objective situation, and partly dependent upon the functioning of accumulated sanskaras or impressions of previous experience. The human mind thus finds itself between a sea of past sanskaras on the one side and the whole extensive objective world on the other.[24]

Forgiveness gives a new past. This is not only a metaphor, but a literal and actual fact. Forgiveness effects a real and palpable alteration in the impressional stuff through which the limitations of past actions remain operative in the present. It accelerates the decay of dead forms and clears new pathways to “the Present, which is ever beautiful and stretches away beyond the limits of the past and the future.”[25] More than the violence and suffering to which it most characteristically responds, forgiveness participates in and attests to the struggle of life itself.

All life is an effort to attain freedom from self-created entanglement. It is a desperate struggle to undo what has been done under ignorance, to throw away the accumulated burden of the past, to find rescue from the debris left by a series of temporary achievements and failures. Life seeks to unwind the limiting sanskaras of the past and to obtain release from the mazes of its own making, so that its further creations may spring directly from the heart of eternity and bear the stamp of unhampered freedom and intrinsic richness of being which knows no limitation.[26]

For no less than evil, goodness must be also be forgiven.

[1] The Divan-i-Hafiz, trans. Wilberforce Clarke (London: Octagon Press, 1974), 216.3.
[2] From a message sent by Meher Baba to Mildred Kyle in 1948, published in Seattle by Warren Healey, and cited in Bal Natu, Glimpses of the God-Man, Volume VI: March 1954-April 1955 (Myrtle Beach: Sheriar Foundation, 1994), 87.
[3] Such a relation between forgiveness and unknowing is suggested by Jesus’s “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), which presents forgiveness as grounded in the knowledge of ignorance, in the recognition of not knowing. Nor is it necessary to read the line as predicating forgiveness on intellectual superiority and/or better knowledge of the other. My knowledge that the other knows not what he does can very well include and in fact grow from recognition that I also know not what I do. So the words might be rescribed into a general imperative description of the act of forgiveness: do not what you know.
[4] Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing (Beacon Hill, Australia: Meher House Publications, 1963), 69-70.
[5] Meher Baba, Discourses, 6th ed., 3 vols. (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1967), 3.139, original italics elided.
[6] Insofar as forgiveness is constituted by a negative movement, a decision not to be angry, hate, seek revenge, and so forth, and more deeply, a decision in some sense not to decide, it participates in the negative essence of freedom or potentiality, which resides not in the ability to do as one wants, but in impotentiality, or the ability not to do. As Giorgio Agamben explains via Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, it is precisely impotentiality that preserves ethics from reduction to law: “Our ethical tradition has often sought to avoid the problem of potentiality by reducing it to the terms of will and necessity. Not what you can do, but what you want to do or must do is the dominant theme. This is what the man of the law repeats to Bartleby. When he asks him to go to the post office (“just step around to the Post Office, won’t you?”), and Bartleby opposes him with his usual “I would prefer not to,” the man of the law hastily translates Bartleby’s answer into “You will not?” But Bartleby , with his soft but firm voice, specifies, “I prefer not” . . . But potentiality is not will, and impotentiality is not necessity . . . To believe that will has power over potentiality, that the passage to actuality is the result of a decision that puts an end to the ambiguity of potentiality (which is always potentiality to do and not to do)—this is the perpetual illusion of morality” (“Bartleby, or On Contingency,” in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, ed. and trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999], 254). Impotentiality is proportionally essential to Meher Baba’s cosmology with respect to the infinite whim that causes the created cosmos: “Whim after all is a whim; and, by its very nature, it is such that “why—wherefore—when” can find no place in its nature. A whim may come at any moment; it may come now or after a few months or after years, and it may not come at all. Similarly, the original infinite whim, after all, is a whim, and too, it is the whim of God in the state of infinitude! This whim may not surge in God at all; and, if it surges, either at any moment or after thousands of years or after a million cycles, it need not be surprising” (Meher Baba, God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose, 2nd ed. [New York: Dodd, Mead & Co, 1973], 83-4).  
[7] Meher Baba, Discourses, 1.133. Cf. “Worrying about the results is no good and of no use. If a person wishes to do anything for others, he must do it sincerely. And having done it, he should not worry about the results, for results are not in human hands. It is for humans to do, for God to ordain. To remain aloof from results is not difficult, but men do not try. Because it is human nature to think of the results of one's actions, however, it does not mean one should worry! Man must think, but he must not worry” (Meher Baba, cited from Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher, 5.1866, ).
[8] Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing, 62.
[9] Meher Baba, Discourses, III.12.
[10] Meher Baba, God Speaks, 83.
[11] “One who is not equipped with this positive forgetfulness becomes a barometer of his surroundings. His poise is disturbed by the slightest whisper of praise or flattery, and by the faintest suggestion of slander or criticism; his mind is like a slender reed swayed by the lightest breeze of emotion. Such a man is perpetually at war with himself and knows no peace. In the exercise of this positive forgetfulness, not only is non-reaction to adverse circumstances essential, but also non-reaction to favourable and pleasurable circumstances. Of these two the latter is the harder and is less often described, although it matters just as much” (Meher Baba, God Speaks, 213-4).
[12] Meher Baba, God Speaks, 213-214.
[13] Meher Baba, God Speaks, 214.
[14] Meher Baba, Discourses, I.41, original italics elided.
[15] Meher Baba, Discourses, II.64
[16] Meher Baba, Discourses, II.192
[17] Meher Baba, Discourses, II. 66.
[18] Meher Baba, Discourses, II.65
[19] “Only spiritual freedom is absolute and unlimited. When it is won through persistent effort, it is secured forever. Though spiritual freedom can and does express itself in and through the duality of existence, it is grounded in the realisation of the inviolable unity of all life, and is sustained by it” (Meher Baba, Discourses, III.101).
[20] Meher Baba, Discourses, II.162.
[21] Meher Baba, Discourses, III.15, my italics.
[22] “It is very difficult to grasp the entire meaning of the word ‘Avatar.’ For mankind it is easy and simple to declare that the Avatar is God and that it means that God becomes man. But this is not all that the word ‘Avatar’ means or conveys. “It would be more appropriate to say that the Avatar is God and that God becomes man for all mankind and simultaneously God also becomes a sparrow for all sparrows in Creation, an ant for all ants in Creation, a pig for all pigs in Creation, a particle of dust for all dusts in Creation, a particle of air for all airs in Creation, etc., for each and everything that is in Creation. When the five Sadgurus effect the presentation of the Divinity of God into Illusion, this Divinity pervades the Illusion in effect and presents Itself in innumerable varieties of forms—gross, subtle and mental. Consequently in Avataric periods God mingles with mankind as man and with the world of ants as an ant, etc. But the man of the world cannot perceive this and hence simply says that God has become man and remains satisfied with this understanding in his own world of mankind” (Meher Baba, God Speaks, 268-9)
[23] Meher Baba, Everything and the Nothing, 69.
[24] Meher Baba, Discourses, I.54. The situation is not, of course, exclusively human. Rather, human consciousness is itself the last stage in the evolution of individualized consciousness through the various pre-human kingdoms (stone, metal, vegetable, worm, fish, bird, animal), the form through which the soul exhausts all impressions: “It is the evolutionary struggle that enables the soul to develop full consciousness as that in the human form, and the purpose having been achieved, the side-issues or by-products of evolutionary travel (the nuqush-e-amal or sanskaras) have to be done away with, while retaining the consciousness intact. The process of reincarnation therefore is to enable the soul to eliminate the sanskaras by passing through the furnace of pain pleasure” (Meher Baba, God Speaks, 29 note).
[25] Meher Baba, cited from Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher, 5809, ).
[26] Meher Baba, Discourses, I.113, original italics elided, my emphasis.