Blinded by the Light & Dreaming by Day (7.28.10)
Schuon points out that in all orthodox religions there are two domains, one which "must be," and one which "may or may not be," and therefore doesn't necessarily have to exist. The former is that of dogma, the latter interpretation and elaboration. For example, just yesterday I was reading in Steinsaltz's In the Beginning about the distinction between the written Torah and the oral Torah.
In kabbalistic terms, the written Torah corresponds to wisdom, the oral Torah to understanding. The former is a numinous flash, a "nucleus" of all knowing, but only in potential. "Only afterwards does Understanding clothe this insight with the length and breadth of reason and make it comprehensible and communicable."
Steinsaltz writes that "the process is not unlike conception and giving birth: the original fertilized cell contains all, but it has to be lodged in the womb and developed." Similarly, Schuon thinks of revelation as a vertical ingression into time, while tradition is its horizontal extension or prolongation within the womb of time.
This is why, while dogma must be preserved, it must also be interpreted. Otherwise, it would be analogous to trying to take the fertilized cell and grow a full-sized human being in a petri dish, which would be meshuginah. As Steinsaltz writes, "Written Torah needs endless amplification, study, and clarification. There are infinite layers of meaning, depthless beauty," and new modes of experiential comprehension to be revealed: O-->(n).
While one receives the written revelation passively, so to speak, the oral revelation "proceeds to act on it, engaging in critical thinking" and "deep experiencing." And unlike the written Torah, which is fixed and not given to change, the oral Torah "can be altered and improved and is constantly being enlarged, added to, re-created, and enhanced by ever higher levels of experience."
This is precisely what I meant when I made reference to the transitional, generative space that exists between revelation and our contemplation of it. In this regard, one can see that Torah study has the identical structure of science, which you might say has a "written revelation" and an "oral revelation."
The "written revelation" is simply the Cosmos, the World, physical reality, or whatever you want to call it. It is the Object which was here before we arrived, and to which we are Subject. Science -- the "oral tradition" -- takes place in the space between the fixed Object and our own Subject, which mysteriously conforms to the Object on so many levels, as if the one were a deep reflection of the other. Which of course it is.
Now, the written revelation may be thought of as "day," the oral as "night." The wisdom of revelation manifests itself in the light of day, but may only be understood in the darkness of consciousness. In short, there is "daytime" knowledge and there is "nighttime" knowledge, and one must understand the distinction.
As Steinsaltz says, "the day is the time for receiving the light, and the night is the time for creating. There is a time to perceive, to look out and absorb things, and there is a time to develop what has been absorbed and even to fashion new things out of this knowledge." Steinsaltz compares it to a photograph, in which the film of the camera absorbs a bit of the light. But then you must enter your dark room in order to "develop" it.
It is no different with the pneumagraph of our indvidual lives. For genuine knowledge can only be gestated in the nighttime womb of the soul. Our Swedish visitor clearly has a bit of daytime knowledge (k) of Spirit, but his night vision is severely lacking, to say the least. Sounds like a serious case of slackular degeneration.
For the Raccoon is a gnocturnal creature, don't you know. For us, the daytime light is so intense, that it can be a bit overwhelming. We actually "see" the light better in the dark. Conversely, many anal-type materialists reject religion because they are simply night-blind or afraid of the dark. They may have understanding, but in the absence of wisdom.
The day and night also correspond to "outer" and "inner," part and whole, letter and spirit. Paradoxically, wholeness can only be seen by night, when all of the apparent, well-defined parts blend together and interpenetrate. By day, we see only fragments, but by night we are able to intuit the whole and dream the metaphysical dream by which the day may be creatively illuminated by the higher darkness.
Here is the essential difference. The spiritually attuned person, the poet, the true artist, all live by night and communicate their vision by the light of an intense beam of darkness. Coonversely, the atheist, the materialist, the radical secularist -- all live by day and are blinded by the light. And being that they cannot think by night, they dream by day -- which is to say, sleepwake -- through their lives.