On Doing Detention in the Divine Principle's Office
In his Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism, Schuon affirms the following principle:
"In metaphysics, it is necessary to start from the idea that the Supreme Reality is absolute, and that being absolute it is infinite. That is absolute which allows of no augmentation or diminution, or of no repetition or division; it is therefore that which is at once solely itself and totally itself. And that is infinite which is not determined by any limiting factor and therefore does not end at any boundary; it is in the first place Potentiality or Possibility as such, and ipso facto the Possibility of things, hence Virtuality. Without All-Possibility, there would be neither Creator nor creation, neither Maya nor Samsara."
The Absolute is infinite, and vice versa. Considered from the standpoint of space, the Absolute corresponds to the point, while the infinite corresponds to extension. Looked at temporally, the Absolute is the moment, while the infinite is duration, or time unending. Understood numerically, the Absolute is the One, or the principle of unicity, while "the infinite will be the unlimited series of numbers or possible quantities, or totality."
Immediately we understand the paradox of how we may feel in the presence of eternity with the very large or the very small. We can hold it in our hand in a grain of sand, or we can feel it inside a majestic cathedral or while peering into the grand canyon. We can sense it in the passing moment, or while contemplating the 14 billion year panorama of cosmic evolution. For
My heart is a centre of infinity,
My body a dot in the soul's vast expanse
A momentless immensity pure and bare,
I stretch to an eternal everywhere. --Sri Aurobindo
It is also, as we shall see, the secret of how the Word may become flesh, because belief in the Incarnation requires one to ask how such a thing is possible -- in other words, in what kind of cosmos is such an "event" non-problematic? Understood this way, the one-time-only Incarnation goes from being a magical anomaly to a more or less inevitable event in the economy of the Absolute.
Earth was a cradle for the arriving god
And man but a half-dark half-luminous sign
Of the transition of the veiled Divine --Sri Aurobindo
Schuon goes on to say that the Absolute and Infinite represent "the two fundamental aspects of the Real, that of essentiality and potentiality." In turn, this is "the highest principial prefiguration of the masculine and feminine poles," since man represents the Absolute while Woman represents the Infinite. This undoubtedly sounds overly abstract, but it explains why the task of a man is to love the universal in a particular woman, while the task of a woman is to love the particular in the universal. In other words, men have a tendency to love every woman, while woman have a tendency to love just any man. The purpose of marriage is to reverse this tendency, so that men love a woman instead of womankind, while women love universal manhood as embodied in a particular man.
I'm not sure if that made any sense. Let's just say that this explains why Richard Ramirez receives love letters from adoring females, while somewhere a man is bored to death of Jessica Alba. Let's move on.
Returning to Absolute and Infinite, the former corresponds with transcendence, the latter with immanence. As such, paradoxically, there is nothing so distant as God, and yet, nothing so close. There is a kind of transcendence in immanence, and a kind of immanence in transcendence, the archetypal case being the Christ event, which occurred (i.e., was immanent) at a particular point in space and time, and yet, utterly shattered and transcended its spacetime container in every conceivable way.
And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that could be written (John 21:25).
Now, as mentioned yesterday, the first distinction is that between Absolute and relative, or Infinite and finite. The first corresponds to Godhead, ground, or Beyond-Being, the second to the personal God who makes himself known to us and whom in turn we may know. In a certain sense, this is no different than a relationship with any human person. Obviously, you can never actually know or experience what it is like to be another person. As with God, you can know their energies but not their essence. True, the essence is revealed through the energies, but the two are not identical. The latter are simply sparks flying out of an essential center that we cannot even conceive.
And in fact, a moment's introspection will reveal that you too have the same relationship even with yourself. There is an "outward facing" aspect of ourselves that we may know in the form of thought, speech, and feelings. But where do these things come from? Psychoanalysis is one way to try to trace oneself back to the hidden center that organizes our being, but one never reaches the Dreamer Who Dreams the Dream. It is always one step beyond, i.e., transcendent. In the end, our Being is a total mystery, like the infinite Godhead itself. I could no more create one of my dreams than I could paint the Mona Lisa. But the materialism of the scientistic worldview is
Blind to the depths, the occult roots unshown.
The visible hides its base in the unseen;
The invisible guards the truth its symbols mean....
Mind's peering gaze meets only abysses still,
Infinite, wayless, mute, unknowable. --Sri Aurobindo
This is what in the Coonifesto is meant by the formula O-->k, in that our essential Being is inexhaustible and shatters every container, even though we require certain containers to serve as rungs in the ascension of Being back to its source -- which is not just the "human journey" but the cosmic pilgrimage, or Adventure of Consciousness as such. This, as we shall see, is the purpose of revelation, which represents the quintessence of a type of communication in which the transcendent is immanent. Scripture is a kind of "infinite speech" with which we may think productively about eternity -- a limit that vaults us into the limitless. And
I passed into a lucent still abode
And saw as in a mirror crystalline
An ancient force ascending surpentine
The unhasting spirals of the aeonic road. --Sri Aurobindo
Now, if the first distinction is that between Infinite and finite, the second distinction is that between God and world, or Principle and Manifestation -- the Absolute as reflected in relativity. This is why existence is not absurd, and why meaning is everywhere. Or, if we do encounter meaninglessness, we experience it as a lack, or an absence -- something derivative, or parasitic, not something that flows from the Sovereign Good.
This is why even a nihilist nevertheless defines himself in terms of meaning, or the atheist in terms of God. After all, the a-theist is specifically lacking God. If he weren't, he wouldn't define himself as an atheist. As such, doctrinaire atheism is just an inverted way to be preoccupied with the eternal and the Absolute. For the most part, their atheism constrains them and keeps them out of trouble, whereas a true a-theist is always a monster -- Hitler, or Stalin, or Arafat, or Castro. Each of these men were truly "black holes" of satanic meaninglessness.
Conversely, referring back to Christ, he would have to represent the "meaning of meaning," or perhaps meaning-beyond-meaning (if you are Jewish, you may think of Torah in this way). The meaning of Christ or Torah is inexhaustible, just as the meaninglessness of a Hitler or Stalin is inconceivable.
Running out of time here. Let us put in a word for Mothers, for the Divine Mother whose bountiful love is infinite and inexhaustible, who is indeed the feminine aspect of God made flesh. God's love rains down vertically, but we could not know it without the infinite grace first bestowed upon us by those horizontal emissaries of Divine love known as mothers. For
There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love.... nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life.... It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things--even divine things. It is thanks to the experience of parental love that our soul is capable of raising itself to the love of God. --Meditations on the Tarot
Songs about mamas -- grandmamas, absent mamas, loving mamas, wise mamas, late mamas, sad mamas, hot mamas, and TV mamas with a big wide screen: