Unknowing What You Know in Order to Know What You unKnow
There's a being mode and a doing mode, and this weekend I was trying to get into the being mode in order to accomplish some doing. The doing has to do with coming up with an idea for a sequel to One Cosmos. Obviously I have plenty of ideas, but what I'm looking for is an organizing principle that will harmonize them and bring them all together, and that's not the kind of thing you can try to come up with.
Rather, in my experience, you have to clear a space in your mind in order to allow the Overmind to spontaneously come up with something on its own. It's like pattern recognition, which must be intuited, not imposed. If you try to impose order on your mind, it's not going to have the kind of robust stability that arises spontaneously. No one knows how we can recognize a face -- including the face of God -- but it's certainly not through induction.
It seems that you can't fool the Overmind, any more than you can fool nature. For example, growing a potato takes as long as it takes to grow one. True, you can fiddle around at the margins a bit, but only up to a point. It's a human conceit to think that we think our thoughts anyway. No one knows what a thought is, where they come from, where they go, how they develop, what their boundaries are, how they combine with other thoughts, how they can be "true," or exactly how long it takes to grow a deep one.
But I suppose it's the rule rather than the exception to impose some kind of artificial order, not just on the mind, but on the world. And this problem afflicts intellectuals more than normal people, since the intellectual is much more prone to conflating his abstractions with reality. Plus, intellectuals are often narcissistically invested in their intellect, no different than a physically attractive narcissist might be invested in their looks. If politics is "show business for the unattractive," academia is politics for the downright ugly. The ugliest ideas in the world are openly embraced in academia, ideas fundamentally lacking in wholeness, harmony, and radiance.
Real thought -- the kind of thought a Raccoon cares about -- is much closer to perception than it is to cogitation. It is seen, not deduced. This dovetails with what Mrs. G. was saying yesterday about her experience in church. In order to comprehend religious truths, it is generally necessary to disable what most people call the "mind," which is in reality just a noisy "thought factory." This factory should be closed on Sunday.
Christianity, with its vivid iconography, is able to cut through a lot of "sophisticated" mental knots. In other wordlessness, it is a very visual religion, providing images that can speak directly to the heart -- or to the nonverbal right brain, if you like (which is directly connected to the cardiac center). These images work like seeds planted in the "unconscious" mind (which, of course, isn't "un" conscious at all, any more than soil is unconscious; fertile soil -- which is full of micro-organisms, enzymes, insects, and other beings -- knows exactly what to do with a seed, and vice versa). It is no wonder that Jesus used so many agrarian metaphors. God is not like a building made bricks, but a tree planted in the sky. And your mind is the sky.
Just yesterday I read the following by Schuon, which directly addresses the difference between O and (k), or Reality and our thoughts about it: "Metaphysical knowledge is one thing and its actualization in the mind quite another. All the knowledge (k) the brain can hold is nothing in light of the Truth (O) even if it is immeasurably rich from a human point of view. Metaphysical knowledge is like a divine seed in the heart; thoughts represent only faint glimmers of it" (emphasis mine).
This is why the relationship between revelation and philosophy is approximately that of organic food to artificial food (while its relationship to new age spirituality is like food to junk food). As someone mentioned in a comment the other day, no matter how hard science tries, it will never be able to invent food more nutritious than that which spontaneously grows from the earth. For one thing, science -- which only knows what it knows, but not what it doesn't -- can only extract abstract quantities (e.g., vitamins) from food, and then try to reproduce them.
But more and more research is demonstrating that there are properties in natural foods that just can't be quantified -- even the colors, e.g. green tea, blueberries, red wine, etc. (As someone once said, why should we trust the government on global climate change if they can't even get the "Food Pyramid" right? Ten or twenty years ago, unrestricted carbohydrates were good for you; now we have a nation of diabetics.)
In any event, what Schuon is saying is that revelation embodies deep metaphysical truths that may be actualized in the mind by "dwelling" within them, so to speak. And these truths will be much deeper than what science or philosophy can come up with. This is not to knock the latter, because (k) is important and certainly has its place. But we are talking about something fundamentally beyond the reach of science, that is, growth -- and salvation -- of the soul.
To cite another example by Schuon, he points out that "A proof is not convincing because it is absolute -- for this could never be -- but because it actualizes something self-evident to the mind" (emphasis mine). In short, proof -- even scientific proof -- is only possible on the basis of prior knowledge. In other words, there is nothing deterministic in this or that proof that compels us to accept it. Rather, our acceptance of this or that proof is an act of judgment that can never be captured by any logical operation (echoes of Gödel again). Once you have accepted a proof, you have left the closed circle of mechanical reason, and are in the realm of faith. Or as Schuon beautifully puts it,
Correlative to every proof is an element eluding the determinism of mere logic and consisting of either an intuition or a grace; now this element is everything. In the intellectual order logical proof is no more than a thoroughly provisional crystalization of intuition, the modes of which are incalculable because of the complexity of the real.
Go ahead, read it again, slowly. I'll wait.
Now surely, based upon this, it is far easier to prove the existence of God than it is to prove the existence, say, of manmade global warming. The latter is expressed with all the trappings of science, but in the end, the science is only accepted if one has already done so -- because it actualizes something self-evident to the mind.
And this, of course, is the secret of our liberal MSMistry of Truth, which only covers things it already knows to be true, for example, that we have lost the war in Iraq, or that lower tax rates cause deficits, or that women are an oppressed minority, or that America is a racist country. I'm sure you can think of dozens of others. I can't because I have to get to work....