Playing Along the Infinite Shore Where the Eternal Breaks Into Time
Yesterday I wrote that "The idea is to live fruitfully in the dialectical space between the conscious and unconscious minds," adding that I would elaborate later. But Brother Bartleby can't wait. He asks, "Is this a conscious state to be lived in the present moment (waking hours), a sort of mindfulness, or is this an actual state, say between waking and sleep which when utilized wisely can actually change the trajectory of ones life? Or....? Please elaborate."
Well, that's what I'm working on. One thing I detest about most so-called spiritual teachers is their mystagoguery. Perhaps you've noticed that they are full of beautiful blather until it comes to certain key points around which they become very vague and evasive. Then they might even blame you for your failure to understand or for a lack of sincerity. It's a common guru trick: blame the seeker.
It is similar to a lot of academic writing. If you really understand something, you should be able to explain it in very clear language. But if you don't understand something, then you can always fall back on confusing and portentous language to make people believe that they are just too stupid to understand your rarified ideas. Also, sometimes the ideas are so banal that they need to be dressed up in overblown language to make them appear exotic or elevated. Most contemporary philosophy is of this nature.
But you can have the opposite problem as well. For example, the words of Jesus are very simple and even at times rustic, and yet, they are among the deepest words ever spoken by a human being. Because of their deceptive simplicity, we can think we have understood them when we haven't even begun to plumb their depth. His words are uniquely "unsaturated" on the vertical level, and will mean very different things at different times based upon your own spiritual growth. The words will come down to your level, but you mustn't allow this to fool you into thinking that you don't have to "ascend" in order to deepen your understanding of them. You can deceive yourself into thinking you've understood, when you've only just begun. Most of his statements can be fruitfully pondered for a lifetime, and are not reducible to an unambiguous rational theology, as so many people try to do.
This then brings us back to language. Since I brought up Christianity, I'll stick with that example. What on earth was Jesus up to with his striking use of language? Obviously something very special. He used language almost in a magical way designed to transform the person with ears to hear it. How did he know how to do that? And in our modern, sophisticated way of understanding language, is this critical factor lost on us?
It certainly is. On the one hand, we have literalists and fundamentalists who want to take the words of Jesus as unambiguous communications, as if he is making scientific statements about the material world. On the other hand, we have progressive liberal theologians and Jesus seminarians who dissect and drain his words of their richly mythological dimension, so that they fail in their primary task of resonating with the deeper layers of consciousness.
Again, truth can be deceptively simple. Take, for example, the word "depth" as applied to human affairs. Has anyone ever explained to you what this means, and why such a thing should exist at all if we are nothing but Darwinian machines? As a matter of fact, one of the projects of postmodernism is to attack the very concept of depth with their spiritual wrecking ball, and make everything equal to everything else. There is no higher or lower, no hierarchy of being, just a cosmic flatland of arbitrary meanings that we assign things.
But in fact, there is something ontologically real called depth. Depth is the measure of the vertical, and our souls are the means of measuring it. Furthermore, this is where God is encountered: in the depth, in the deep within of things. If not there, where? On the surface? No, that is the way of graven images. God is found in the "I" and the "AM," but certainly not understood in a narcissistic sense, as if "I am God." Again, words can be so simple that they can deceive us into thinking we have understood them--and what can be more simple than "I am"? But almost no one understands what this means, and if they understood completely, they would be God, wouldn't they?
"The idea is to live fruitfully in the dialectical space between the conscious and unconscious minds." What did Petey mean by this cryptic statement? Is it just the usual mystagoguery? Or will he get on with it and explain himself? "Is this a conscious state to be lived in the present moment (waking hours), a sort of mindfulness, or is this an actual state, say between waking and sleep which when utilized wisely can actually change the trajectory of ones life?"
First off, no, it is not the latter. It is definitely not a sort of hypnopompic state between waking and sleeping, although that state certainly has much to recommend itself and is worth cultivating, as it is an important piece of prime real estate where the waves of the eternal lap ashore into consciousness.
"Is this a conscious state to be lived in the present moment (waking hours), a sort of mindfulness?" That is more like it, although I wouldn't confuse it with the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, because that is a more detached state, when I am talking about a very engaged and dynamic state of engagement. In fact, it is one of the reasons I rejected Buddhism--perhaps because of my upbringing in the Christian west--because I firmly believe that the world is worthy of our being in it, and that "enlightenment," or whatever you want to call it, must take place in the world, not in some detached nirvanic state of bliss. I like a challenge. (And I'm not saying Buddhism isn't right for others.)
For the record, this is the entire basis of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, and what sets it apart from other forms. In this regard, it is much closer to Judaism and Christianity, which unwaveringly regard the world as real and not an illusory condition from which we are best advised to escape: "The object of our Yoga is self-perfection, not self-annulment. There are two paths, withdrawal from the universe and perfection in the Universe... the first receives us when we lose God in Existence, the second is attained when we fulfill existence in God. Let ours be the path of perfection, not of abandonment; let our aim be victory in battle, not escape from the conflict." In other words, the task is to actually embody the higher, to bring it down into the lower, not to flee from life and thereby lose our sense of the divinity in everyday living.
I am going to continue with this line of thought in tomorrow's post, which I am actually going to complete right now, since I have to leave very early Monday morning and won't have time. Don't worry--unlike my competitors, I'm not trying to go Deepak on you and leave you hanging just when we've gotten to the important part. However, do keep in mind our new blogging covenant--that I am trying to figure this out and learn how to express it as I go along. Sort of a mutual discovery. Or just a wild nous chase. We don't know yet.