Dreams of Reason and the Reason of Dreams
While I was struggling to remember the details of the dream, I fell back asleep, only to have the same dream, which is very unusual. But once again, I couldn't remember what it was about. I was just left with the "residue" of eschatological bliss. Which is not chopped liver. Still. Be nice to know the details.
Something similar happened several years ago. I've told the story of how, after I finished writing the Coonifesto, I went through a bit of a mini-crisis, wondering if I had done a bad thing -- if I had offended against heaven, so to speak. Because I had no desire whatsoever to publish a book that would lead people away from essential Truth or sow confusion. In that case, I had a dream in which a certain spiritual figure well known to me reassured me with words to the effect of, Don't worry. You have the protection. Protection? What protection?! Come back! Details! But it did ease my mind.
In psychoanalytic therapy, one will often have a dream about what came out in the previous session. Something in the unconscious is provoked during the session and then "worked over" by the night logic of the dream, which you then bring into the next session, and so on.
This happened to me last night, in which I had a dream that was clearly a comment on yesterday's post. I was given my own radio talk show, but it was in another city, so I had to move. I drove somewhere south to an apartment I was to rent. I looked up and there was a huge billboard with my face on it. However, it wasn't a friendly billboard. Rather, it was "anti-Bob." It was put up by a certain relative of mine who quite passionately detests me, very much in the manner of the trolls with their wild accusations. The two of us do not speak, at his insistence, even though my feelings toward him are essentially neutral. In any event, under my picture on the billboard it said "GASBAG BOB." Then, under that (referring to the radio show), "Talk is Cheap. You Get What You Pay For."
So now I have trolls in my dreams.
Regarding my teleological dream of eschatological harmony, I do sometimes wonder how even the best afterlife imaginable could compensate for, say, the horror of being prematurely separated from my son. If it weren't for him, I think I could say, "okay, I've lived long enough." By the time a man reaches 40, he's pretty much seen it all... unless he's a bit of a loser. But I had a nice, slack-filled childhood. Then I got to taste beer. When I grew up and had to get a real job, I was at least able to purchase a very cool sound system. I got to fall in love and marry the prettiest girl in graduate school. I got to see Kirk Gibson hit that home run off Eckersley in the '88 World Series. What else is there?
What there is is my son's life, for which I am now responsible. Schuon makes reference to one of Andersen's fairy tales, in which a mortal is granted a glimpse of heaven: "only for a moment does the heavenly rapture last, and already several millennia have passed by on earth. In union with God there is no longer time nor change. It is the highest freedom; only our earthly heaviness could possibly see in it immobility or something else comparable with general earthly conditions." This would imply that upon the moment of one's death, one is more or less instantaneously reunited with loved ones and with everything else, so fleeting is terrestrial life from that perspective. I guess I'll buy that. My dream implies it. Still, I want those details. A Raccoon does not speculate.
Back to the question of scripture. Yesterday a reader (HT: Bryan) sent me a link to a website that discusses a new book by a certain highly regarded Orthodox theologian, Fr. John Behr, entitled The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death (the book looks quite good, by the way; it's in my pipeline). The reader mentioned that he thought Behr's approach to scripture had certain similarities to mine.
Now this is most gratifying, especially coming from an Orthodox standpoint, which I regard as the most kosher. I love when this happens -- and it happens often -- that is, arriving at the same Truth through an entirely different route. For it proves the objective reality of the Thing we are both dreaming, but from slightly different angles. Plus it shows that Christian truth embodies Objective Truth, and vice versa, even if the human vertex -- our angle of intersection -- inevitably both distorts it and cannot possibly contain it. It shows to me that our souls are indeed proportioned to the divine reality, and that we can ascertain universal metaphysical truths -- or the realm of that which cannot not be -- through the veils of religion, which simultaneously veil and reveal (or reveil, as Petey likes to say).
As I mentioned yesterday, the non-religious person cuts himself off from essential Truth by falling back upon the lesser modes of empiricism and rationalism. In so doing, he tethers himself to the herebelow and I-solates himself from both God and himself. He no longer stands in the source of his being (O), but outside it. He then attempts to understand his existential situation "from the outside," as it were, which is a fool's errand if ever there were one. To a priori reduce subjectivity to objectivity and then try to comprehend the miracle of subjectivity? It makes no sense. To close the door of subjectivity is to bar the very door to heaven -- the hole in creation that gives the human being access to the Infinite and the Absolute. To borrow a metaphor from Schuon, it is as if the atheist "crystalizes" man's fall and lives under a thick sheet of ice.
Is it possible not just to think about God, but to think in God? Absolutely. For this is one of the mysterious properties of scripture, which provides the divine archetypes with which to "think about" eternity -- or to think outside the specific limitations of our human circumstance. This is what it means to believe in order to understand. The operative word is understand. And this is why I say that scripture is one of the four epistemological modes available to humans. And although it is "objective" in one sense, it must be "lit up" from the inside through intellection, which necessarily has some degree of subjectivity.
So while our subjectivity is the miraculous channel though which God flows, it is also where "error" creeps in. Because error exists -- indeed, cannot not exist by virtue of the very nature and conditions of existence -- materialists throw out the entire axis of revelation-intellection as "unscientific." That it is. But most of what we know is unscientific, strictly speaking. There is no scientific explanation for why you prefer a particular tie, let alone how Gibson hit that home run with two permanently crippled knees. We are thoroughly plunged into a mystery, but some of us try to convince ourselves otherwise by gripping tightly to the scientific method. Madness!
Metaphysical truth is convergent. Imagine a mountain with many trails leading to the top. At the base, the trails will be at their widest distance from one another. But as one ascends the mountain, the various trails will begin to converge. Now, the other day, a truly benighted troll chided us for suggesting that this blog is intended for "spiritually advanced individuals with a thorough grounding in esotericism and traditional metaphysics," as if this were an egoic boast as opposed to a mere description of the terrain we share -- "the ecology of Raccoons," as it were. Our little transdimensional niche in evolutionary hyperspace.
Again, there are no regular readers who need to be reminded that none of us are masters, but all of us are servants who just happen to love and be attracted to the same thing. Our love draws us closer to that object, but in so doing, closer to one another. Thus, we all have our different angles on the Absolute. The miracle -- and it is a miracle -- is that our visions are so similar despite vastly different routes in arriving here. This is why we can always tell when a new Raccoon has arrived on the scene. It is as plain as day. No one is policing anybody. The Raccoon will be someone right over there, on that trail across the way. Welcome to the den! On the other hand, the troll, or sub-Raccoon, annoys us with his weather reports from base camp, where he sees nothing but a cloud cover concealing the mountain.
Subjectivity is another word for experience. Thus, for humans, God will be an experience of God. As such, as pointed out by our Unknown Friend, "all superficial, incomplete, and false experience is bound to give rise to superficial, incomplete and false conclusions... in a direction parallel with the experience from which they are the outcome." Therefore, it must be concluded that our intellection "on the one hand is in no way infallible but on the other hand is qualified to lead to the discovery of essential truths. Its effectiveness and value depend on the fullness and exactitude of the experience upon which it is based."
Now, the development of spontaneous "Coon vision" is only possible as a result of the acquisition of "long experience" and the accumulation of "the teachings which it requires." However, the long years of work actually end in the ability to play in the mischevious Raccoon manner we know so well, for as the Master put it, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a baby raccoon shall not enter it." Or as Schuon expressed it, the integral state of the fully mature Raccoon "keeps, in equilibrium with his wisdom, the qualities of simplicity and freshness, of gratitude and trust, that he possessed in the springtime of his life." Holy innocence, as it were.
This state represents the attainment of "harmony and equilibrium between the spontaneity of the unconscious and the deliberate action of the conscious" (Meditations). It is none other than O-->(k), or subjective intellection within the constraints of objective revelation. It is somewhat analogous to "theological mind jazz," in which you spend half your life learning what to know, and then half your life unknowing what you have learned, so as to spontaneously compose the Song Supreme.
Or, as Joni Mitchell sang, "something's lost, but something's gained, in living every day." Death and rebirth at the razoredgeon of day to day existence. In living the dream of this perpetual death and rebirth, we also know that everything is going to be okay.
Wanting to believe only what they see, scientists condemn themselves to seeing only what they believe; logic for them is their desire not to see what they do not want to believe. --F. Schuon