Speaking Truth to unKnown Powers & Principalities
I was playing in my sandbox, creating roads and imaginary buildings, an activity I loved doing for hours. This particular day something happened. I stood up and walked towards our willow tree and suddenly felt something change. I instantly “forgot” everything. I knew that just 10 seconds ago I had full knowledge and remembrance of everything past, and now it was gone. And I knew the loss was permanent, which filled me with sadness. The memory of that step into linear time has stayed with me my entire life.
Time. You can't live with it, and can't live without it. Unless he had entered time, Robin wouldn't remember those traces of the timeless. But he heard the pied piper's forbidden flute, and his temporal ears and I were opened.
Where are you before you're in time? You're in eternity, the atemporal, and to the extent that you are, you'll have no recollections of it, since there was no time for events to have taken place. The events Robin remembers are not actually in eternity, but in what is called a transitional space, an area of overlap between time and eternity, consciousness and unconsciousness (a good place -- perhaps the only place -- to be -- more on which tomorrow).
The real eternity of infancy is not conscious, but fuses with the Background Object of Primary Identification. It leaves its traces in the general way we experience the world for the rest of our lives, as a threatening place, a secure place, a hopeful place, a disappointing place, a hostile place, a loving place, etc. It's no doubt what causes someone to be a loony dailykosbag or huffpo' boysandwitch, since they can't help seeing and experiencing the ugly world they perpetulantly create.
I was reminded of this while watching Teletubbies with my son this morning. For those of you who haven't seen this inane program that has a hypnotic effect on babies, it begins with a sun with an infant's face rising over the horizon. The sun has always been associated with the light of consciousness, and we can see that this operates on a deeply symbolic level, as the baby, in his infantile omnipotence, believes that he creates the reality that actually created him. He is the Central Sun who even gives birth to his own parents, Adam and Eve. How could it be otherwise in the deep unconscious, where there is no knowledge of beforeafter?
You might say that eternity is "colorless," but that it takes on a certain emotional color based upon unKnown experiences during our first three years of lives, beyond the horizon of articulacy. If you are left with a "bad color" that tinges everything in a negative way, it's extremely difficult to change it. It's like a mind parasite that is not so much a content as a toxic context -- not the contained but the container.
But it can be changed, and I believe this is one of the purposes of a spiritual practice -- to uproot one unconscious narrative and replace it with another. Importantly, you can't do this with just any old narrative that you invent. You can't just look in the mirror every day and repeat, "I'm good enough. I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, Al Franken loves me."
For one thing, in order to "speak" to the timeless unconscious, you must do so in a language it understands. This is the language of myth and symbol, puzzling paradoxables and smoking puns -- and revelation. Revelation is specifically revelation because it "reveals" things to the deep unconscious mind. It doesn't speak to the ego -- indeed, many aspects of religion make no sense to the the ego -- but to a much deeper part.
This is the reason, I believe, that Christianity spread so rapidly among the people who first heard it. To a historian of the era, it doesn't really make any logical sense, so they invent "rational" reasons why people heard "the word" and embraced it. But at the time, people obviously weren't hung up on the modern distinction between "fact" and "symbol," since the concept of factuality hadn't even really been discovered. Therefore, it was easier to embrace something that simply made sense to the soul.
The real reason most people are drawn to religion is that it bypasses the cramped illusions of the surface ego and speaks to them at a deeper and more expansive level. Once you understand this, you see how obvious it is. The ego has certain cognitive needs, but the ego is not the whole of our personality. Indeed, it is only a small part. Our Total Being has other cognitive needs, which include spiritual food.
How does one "engage the attention" of the unconscious? Clearly, this is the purpose of great art, poetry, or music. Indeed, the reason we call it great is that it somehow reaches deep within the reader, viewer, or listener, and engages the vast realm of the unthought known, as Christopher Bollas calls it.
Bollas also coined the phrase erotics of being for that disinct feeling that occurs when we discover or engage with an object in the external world that helps us to articulate an aspect of our Unthought Known. Without these objects, our Unthought Known would be unthinkable, and known only in potential. Or, you might say that it would be known by a nagging sense of its absence -- an absent presence.
Again, one of the purposes of religion is to resonate with this absent presence -- to flesh it out and give it body, blood, and voice. As I began exploring Christianity a decade or so ago, this was one of the realizations that dawned on me. I discovered so many luminous intellects -- Denys the Areopagite, Meister Eckhart, and others -- that I would have prevously dismissed as sadly superstitious mythtery mongers. Why would someone with a first class mind waste it on religion?
Because religion was simply the way they articulated the depth and greatness of their genius. It was the language they spoke in order to articulate the deepest aspects of reality. Once I realized this, Christianity suddenly "clicked" for me in a way it never had before. Now I understand why it is so much deeper than science, and why people will always have a need for genuine religion, without which they are condemned to superficiality and circularity. Like the obligatory atheist, they simply fall off the shallow end.
In a previous lifetime, I wrote a number of papers demonstrating that this way of looking at things was actually far more in accord with the latest findings of physics, let alone psychology. No one believes any longer that the world is constituted of material objects interacting like billiard balls in a deterministic way.
In my book, I go into this at some length, so I won't repeat myself here. The bottom line is that, if we base our metapsychology and metatheology on models emerging from modern science, we do not visualize an objective ego being buffeted from below by drives and instincts. Rather, we visualize an unbroken and ceaselessly flowing holographic field of energy-consciousness with implicate (unconscious, O) and conscious (explicate, (k)) dimensions.
But you knew that already.
But to the extent that you don't, it is highly likely that you will overemphasize mere logic as being sufficient to explain both reality and yourself. This overvaluation of logic is illogical to that which is the higher source of logic, which is to say, the intellect properly so-called. Logic is to ego as revelation is to Self, i.e., the total self of Being and its pal, the intellect.
I wish I had more time but I don't so we'll have to pick this up tomorrow. This will probably end up taking me a month or so to completely spit out, so don't get your expectorations up.