Father, Sun, and Seeing-Eye Gods (1.31.11)
Stone writes that by the 16th century, new and unprecedented trends in human psychological evolution were becoming clear. In particular, there was an increase in individualism, characterized by a growing capacity for introspection, or exploration of the interior world. Not surprisingly, we see the first real novels appear at this time, which explore the interior life of everyday individual characters, instead of dealing mainly in archetypes, heroic epics, and more stock characters. There is also a growth of personal autonomy, marked by awareness of the individual conscience, empathy for others, affectionate marriage, and the uniqueness (and therefore, value) of the individual.
Again, since these things are completely taken for granted in our own time, it's very difficult to try to imagine what life would be like in their absence. Another important point, as Elias mentions, is that we cannot think of these changes as having been brought about in any conscious manner. Nor were they caused by the ideas of a few great and influential men. Rather, they just "happened." Or did they? Is there a hidden "law" at work in the movement of history?
Not to get sidetracked right off the bat, but Magnus left a pertinent comment yesterday, writing that he wonders "whether modern civilization could even have come to exist had not the Nativity Story been burned into our minds year after year, generation after generation, millions of times through the centuries." This reminds me of how Gil Bailie looks at scripture. That is, we have our own ideas of what it's all about, but what if God has his own agenda of which we are not consciously aware? What if he's trying to nudge all of mankind in a particular direction, so to speak, by tinkering with our unconscious tomeplate?
In Bailie's case -- and he's an orthodox Catholic, by the way -- he sees the central gospel message to be about putting an end to mankind's perpetual scapegoating and sacrificial violence, in order to create a truly transcendent unity. This is in contrast to the temporary unity achieved by ritual sacrificial violence, which must be repeated again and again. The unconscious message of the gospel is that when we murder the innocent victim, we murder God. Such an idea was utterly novel in the world of ancient Rome, just as it is today in the Islamic world, where might makes right and the meek inherit a rusty knife to the jugular. (Bailie's book is far too rich for me to summarize here, but it is highly recommended.)
Similarly, if Magnus is correct -- and I believe he is -- then another unconscious message of the gospels would be about the manner in which we are to regard children. Again, it is difficult -- and even painful -- for us to put ourselves in the mindset of antiquity, but children were regarded as essentially worthless. I say "essentially," because they had no "essence" or intrinsic value conferred by the Father, only the arbitrary value conferred upon it by its father. If the father wanted to keep the baby, then it lived. If not, it was adios. To the dungheep, or "exposed," to be torn apart and eaten by wild animals. In its metaphysical form, this is identical to the argument of radical pro-abortionists, who affirm without apology that the human fetus has no intrinsic value -- that ending its life is fundamentally no different than removing a decayed tooth. The mother determines its value. But who determines the value of the mother? Don't ask.
However, in a world in-formed by the gospel message, no one can actually believe this "deep down." I think this is why the left believes it so radically and so fanatically, for to entertain doubt about the matter is to be convicted by one's conscience. And we wouldn't want that.
The point I am attempting to make is that we have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. Our conscious mind understands things one way, while the unconscious understands them in another way entirely, and which might well be totally at odds with what the conscious mind believes. We do our best to "consciously" interpret the divine message, but is this even possible? Isn't it a little like a two-dimensional object trying to describe a three-dimensional one? For example, a sphere moving through two dimensions can be described as a series of circles of varying sizes. But it will require a leap of imagination for the flatlander to "see" that these apparently separate circles are all partial reflections of the one sphere.
To extend the analogy, what if God, or "God's word," is, say, a ten-dimensional object moving through our four dimensions? We will attempt to read the shadows of this object in a linear way, when in fact, it takes a vast leap of imagination to en-vision the Divine Reality. At the very least, this would explain the "60,000" distinct denominations of Christianity -- not to mention other valid "non-Christian" perspectives -- for what if God has 60,000 dimensions? What if God has a million dimensions?
No, what if God has 6,645,472,522 dimensions, which is to say, a number equivalent to the human population at this moment? Actually, that would be the minimum, wouldn't it, because we'd have to include every human who has ever lived and will live.
Am I arguing for relativism? No, not at all. I am arguing that there is an absolute object with at least 6,645,472,522 dimensions, and in whose shadow -- or light -- or both -- we live. Remember, every bit of light we see -- and of which we are made -- is just a part of the sun. We imagine that the sun is a distinct object 93 million miles away, but this is pure fantasy. We're right here, in the middle of it.
Similarly, our own I AM is plugged directly into the hyperdimensional subject in the manner described by Meister Eckhart, so that "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." So is it my eye? Or God's eye? Or are you blind? In order for a knower to know an object, there must be a third thing called "light," and the supraformal light is always superior to any formal object it illuminates. For as Schuon wrote, "the formal cannot exhaustively express the informal," nor can metaphysics be reduced to creed. "There is only one single Subject; the rest is blindness."
Not to mention blandness.
Man partakes of the divine being, therefore he "is." However, since he is not God, he -- alone among the animals -- may "become." God and man are not one; but nor are they two. I suppose the best way of saying it would be that God and man are three. Two of the parties are obvious, which is to say, the Absolute and the relative, the latter of which must exist in light of the existence of the Absolute. In other words, the relative is a necessary consequence of the Absolute, the latter being infinite and extending into relativity, as the central sun extends to all the millions of eyes with which it sees itself.
The Great Mystery is why this middle term exists, this uncertain mode of being-becoming.
Now, what is a baby? Or, to put it in a slightly different way, what does a baby symbolize -- at least for those of us with a "Christianized" unconscious -- which is to say, virtually all of us in the Judeo-Christian West (for remember, there was a critical context for the valuing of babies, and that was the Jewish culture of antiquity; Jesus almost had to be a Jew).
Let me ponder this for a moment....
Okay, done pondering. In a baby, the circle is unbroken and heaven and earth touch. The child, by virtue of his im-maturity, is "an incomplete state which points toward its own completion." The child represents what was and is "before," that is, "what is simple, pure, innocent, primordial, and close to the Essence, and this is what its beauty expresses; this beauty has all the charm of promise, of hope and of blossoming, at the same time that of a Paradise not yet lost; it combines the proximity of the Origin with the tension towards the Goal" (Schuon).
Therefore and thus and so forth and so on and in conclusion:
"The man who is fully mature always keeps, in equilibrium with wisdom, the qualities of simplicity and freshness, of gratitude and trust, that he possessed in the springtime of his life" (Schuon). For verily, as Petey says unto you, except ye be coonverted and become as little kits, ye shall not exit the king-kongdom of heathens.
Now, the moment I flowed out from the Creator all creatures stood up and shouted: "Behold, here is God."
They were correct. For if you ask me: Who is God? What is God? I reply: Isness. Isness is God.... Creation is the giving of Isness from God. And that is why God becomes where any creature expresses God. --Meister Eckhart