Follow the Depth
I suppose one of the secrets of keeping my readership quite... er, "compact," is the ability to alienate people of all persuasions. Only a masochistic leftist is going to read more than one post here. A new-ager or integralist might initially be drawn in, but then be repelled by my traditionalism and moonbat-battering. Traditionalists are put off by my evolutionism, while many Jews (not Lisa, of course) and followers of eastern religions might be put off by my Christian slant. But many Christians are eventually put off by my neo-Vedantin orientation, not to mention my esoteric and Hermetic understanding of Christianity. Today perhaps I'll alienate the rest, and finally have some solitude.
With that in mind, what follows is not actually an attempt to start or continue an argument, but a rambling exploration of some important principles. I'm just talking to myself, Coon to Coon. Feel free to listen in.
AT in LA writes that:
There really isn't such thing as Christianity. Only Christ and His Church. His authenticity and authority, or not. For each of us, we are able to receive what we are disposed to receive, and that is the rub. He is who he claimed to be and rose from the dead, or the whole thing is a sham with some nice teachings and miracles thrown in. And that's not my opinion or position, but the claim put forward to us all.
Not to be pedantic about it, but there must be such a thing as Christianity, or we wouldn't be able to recognize it. Something only exists by virtue of being defined, even if we can't fully understand the definition. It reminds me of when physicists say that time doesn't exist. Oh really? It takes time to recognize time, let alone deny its existence. More importantly, the archetypal quality of duration, or "eternity extended," transcends anything physicists can say about quantitative time. Put another way, it takes a minimum of 13.7 billion years to produce a physicist capable of making such a self-refuting statement. And that's the law.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that an "archetypal Christianity" exists, but that Man's definitions of it perpetually -- and perhaps necessarly -- fall short, for reasons related to Plato's allegory of the cave. However, in my opinion, this is where esoterism, metaphysics, and Hermeticism come to the rescue, as they all deal with the fundamental cosmic principles that simply "cannot not be," and which religion is here to disclose in a way that the average Man can understand.
I align mysoph with Saint Augustine, who wrote that "What we now call the Christian religion existed amongst the ancients, and was from the beginning of the human race, until Christ Himself came in the flesh; from which time the already existing true religion began to be styled Christian." What a profound statement! I would only add that this true religion never existed "on earth," since it is archetypal. It is the archetypal form in light of which the substance of religion can be seen. But perhaps the most paradoxical thing about it is that it is not superior to the form it takes, any more than the idea of Mother is superior to your dear old Mom, or the baseball rule book is superior to a game.
The "already existing true religion" is the "root religion" of all mankind, bearing in mind that the Tree of Life has its nonlocal roots aloft, its local branches and district offices down below. Because it exists, people could (and can) recognize and understand Christianity when they heard it. Otherwise, Christianity would simply be an absurdity, which it obviously isn't. True, many modern intellectuals regard it as one, but that's only because they aren't intellectuals in the true sense of that word, which means to have an awakened intellect, or nous.
In essence, these sleepwaking clockjockeys down in flatland try to understand transcendent reality with senses and modes adapted to, and reflecting, the material world. But the lower cannot comprehend the higher, since the lower is a descent, or involution, of the higher. That being the case, we can only evolve toward the One because the One is involved in the many -- which is just another way of saying that everything (including, of course, the mind) is made of language, or the word. If it weren't, we couldn't read reality like a book.
It is perfectly true that Christianity cannot be understood by the ego or profane mind, but that doesn't mean it can't be understood at all. In fact, many Christians who say so are under the same illusions as the modern skeptics, except they're just not as proud of their minds. ("God said it, I believe it, that settles it.") You might say that they believe it because it is absurd, as a kind of defiant alternative (but on the same plane) to the ego's verdict that all of reality is ultimately absurd. Nevertheless, there is obviously a deeper part of theirwholes that Christianity "speaks to," even if they only dimly apprehend its dimensions and coordinates.
What is the part of us that recognizes and understands the "divine message," or (n), since it is obviously a necessary condition for the earthly existence of Christianity? More on that later. For now, let's just call it (¶). In the absence of (¶) there can be no (n), for the same reason that in the absence of ears there can be no sound. Let those with ears hear! More fundamentally, let ears be the material instantiation, or descent of the cosmic archetypal principle of sound. This is the sacred syllable, AUM, "which is in all the scriptures -- the supreme syllable, the mother of all sound" (Taittirya Upanishad), for A-u-m-en are created equal.
Thus, if Christianity is true, it must not only echo the a priori meta-cosmic principles, but -- for the faithful -- be an essentially "perfect" instantiation of them, a luminous obscurity seen "through a glass darkly," but seen more clearly with the eyes of faith. "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect" = work at being a more accurate immanent image of the transcendent Principle. Just because you can never achieve perfection in this life, it doesn't mean the Principle doesn't exist or that you should stop trying to reach it.
I suppose it comes down to the question of how much Truth may be discovered by Man in the absence of revelation. I'm guessing that the sort of Christian I alienate would be the type who insists that we cannot really understand these ultimate principles, but simply have to accept on faith the ones that are revealed to us, even if they seem illogical, clash with everything else we know to be true of the world, and do not appeal to the intellect. Call me promethian, like great aunt Mary, but I just find this unacceptable.
I believe there are close to 60,000 groups/sects/denominations that might all label themselves "Christian", but many hold central beliefs that are opposed to one another. This is clearly impossible and it's no wonder people are reluctant about it and even get, as Bob would say, the Jesus willies, when a lot of what passes for Christianity has little to do with Christ.
The fact that there are 60,000 interpretations of Christianity should tell us something. Not that they are false, but that most of them are attempting to describe a hyperdimensional manifold with eyes designed for only three dimensions. On the horizontal axis, things are either true or false in the unambiguous scientific sense. But only on the vertical axis can you get into "profound truths," some of which might even superficially contradict one another.
Speaking only for myself -- as something of an inside outsider or outside insider -- I find the most consistently "full" elaboration of this hyperdimensional object to abide within Orthodoxy, with certain vital Catholic contributions added later, for example, Meister Eckhart, whose vision might well be most compatible with my own. (In the near future, I hope to do a series of posts to explore his thought in great detail.)
Statements of higher truth never merely contain what they contain. Rather, they are activated in unpredictable ways upon contact with them by one's own gnosis. This is why Schuon says that "there is the order of principles, which is immutable, and the order of information -- traditional or otherwise -- of which one can say that it is inexhaustible."
Obviously even in my own faulty way, my wording or unintentional tonality may cause some to say, "here we go again, another naive 'Christian.'" But all I would say is, look into it yourself. It's a big claim. It's very unique to human kind and our history. We are all imperfect and faulty souls. Don't let the "Christian" be the stumbling block to Christ.
Not to be pedantic again, but something can't be very unique, only unique, since uniqueness cannot be surpassed. Irrespective of its uniqueness, the esoterist nevertheless goes one step further, and always asks by virtue of what principle is this true? So let's say that Christianity is uniquely true. Nevertheless, the Coon in me wants to know, "by virtue of what principle?"
For example, if we "reverse imagineer" Christianity, there must be an a priori principle that allows the Creator to take human form, unless the Creator just makes it up as he goes along, like Allah. Likewise, there must be an immanent principle that allows the mind of man to be a witness to Christian truth. In the absence of these principles, then Christ could not have appeared and we couldn't have recognized him anyway; unless you simply insist that this is true, regardless of whether you really understand it. Again, I find such a view unacceptable. This was the Christianity that was foisted upon me as a child, and which caused me to unfortunately reject all Christianity out of hand by the time I was 10 years old.
As Schuon has written, "The very word 'man' implies 'God,' the very word 'relative' implies 'Absolute.'" This is an example of another principle that cannot not be. You could say the same for other irreducible polarities such as time and eternity, spirit and matter, form and substance, freedom and determacy, fate and providence, quantity and quality, individual and group, conscious and unconscious, and others.
I suppose my bottom line -- and this will no doubt smell blasfumy to some -- is that Christianity can be true, but it cannot surpass Truth. While the human mind is "made of truth," it only exists in potential until it is realized. Once you walk the blank into God's arbor and your wood beleaf, the coonundrum ends and the Great Mystery begins. And it is a "mystery in motion," otherwise known as an adventure -- the only one that really Is and has ever been: the adventure of consciousness. Don't listen to the others, most of all me. Just follow the depth, for O is nothing if not deep.