498. Youthful folly (X)
The Russian mystic Rasputin was reputed to have healing powers—most notably with the tsarina’s haemophiliac son; and he also had various premonitions and visions that seemed to come uncannily true. The way in which he acquired these powers seems to be related to a life lived with divine carelessness; for example, Rasputin had a reputation as a great lover, appeared largely unwashed and dishevelled, drank a great deal (though not vodka), and would simply give away any money he was given. For example, if a person passed Rasputin cash as a donation at some public event he would immediately hand over the money to the next person in the queue to see him.
This divine carelessness—thoughtlessness—relates to an old idea, one found in the Bible, where true charity and true love must be without thought. Jesus said that the left hand must not know what the right is doing when it comes to charity, and Rasputin seemed to “get this” in the way he was careless with money; he gave it no thought, and because he gave it no thought he accrued more—he was a nullity with money. Of course, he did send money back to his wife and children in their small village; yet even this was done in a spontaneous and careless way. The same could be said for his voracious sexuality—sexuality without attachment. To live in such a way places a person in touch with kairos, eternal time—otherwise known as fortune.
Indeed, it is possible that in his great wanderings—including two pilgrimages to Palestine—that Rasputin encountered something akin to the “left-hand path” the Hindoos practice; the Kundalini awakening that often uses sex and alcohol to awaken certain spiritual powers—healing, in his case. After all, the tsarina’s favourite symbol was a little swastika, a Hindoo symbol; not, it should be noted, Hitler’s widdershins swastika (the inverted swastika, the black sun of destruction). So perhaps Rasputin picked up this approach in a Christian form; possibly in his encounters with the heretical Russian Orthodox sect, the Khlysts.
Strange to relate, this idea can also be found in Clausewitz—the German theorist as regards the nature of war. It turns out that, as the saying goes, fortune favours the brave—the divinely indifferent. Clausewitz carefully examines war, in a very Germanic fashion—a very organic fashion; and yet he concludes that despite all rational approaches there remains an “X” factor to war. A soldier must have a cool head and balance probabilities, but he must also have the capacity for a divine carelessness; really, an ability to make intuitive decisions. The man who goes with the flow—his flow, his intuition—receives outrageous fortune. The same idea that was operative with Christ’s ideas about love and Rasputin’s indifference to sex and money operates in warfare: the lucky soldier also has a certain divine indifference—in a sense, he does not care if he wins or loses; and it is at that moment that fortune blesses him.
Clausewitz speaks about war as probability, and this entire attitude is a gambler’s attitude (shades of the mystical Dostoyevsky and his gambling problem). I think it goes back to Heraclitus and his observation that life is war: life is chance and outrageous fortune—negate the ego, without thought of gain and loss, and you are blessed. Do not calculate, at least not consciously—do not carefully weigh everything in the balance; if you do, you will become proud and falsely moral.
When people say they want “a philosophy” this is what they really mean; they want the art of life—and the art of life is really divine carelessness. Actual formal philosophy and religion disappoint in this regard, because these are always calculated systems and rules that are dead and uninspired. The real life philosophy is that life is war—love is war—and the way to beat the odds is to play without care as to whether you win or lose.