Cosmolinguistic Wordploys (3.06.10)
I definitely could have slept another hour this morning. In any event, we'll do our best with a hypnopompic ramble from Bob's unconscious.
We intuitively and routinely use language in such a way as to imply that the mind is a space. But what kind of space is it? If it is holographic and multidimensional -- which it is -- then we need a language that parallels that fact, or else it will simply mislead, as the mind will appear to take on reified properties of the language used to describe it. It will be like trying to represent a three-dimensional cube on a two-dimensional piece of paper. Something vital will be lost. One thing lost will be the dimension of "depth."
What does it mean to say that something is "deep?" That it partakes of multiple dimensions, even if we are not consciously aware of all of them. Authentic scripture is a kind of language that is deep and resonant. Inexhaustibly so. It can never be fully explicated, since it partakes of the Absolute.
The problem with religious language is not so much the literal/symbolic divide, but the question of whether or not language is being used in a generative or a static way. If it is static -- as so much religious talk is -- then it is not really about religion, but simply about language, about saturated words pointing to each other. It is like a glorified case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is tied up in an entirely closed and circular neural knotwork. It is safely on this side of the ego, or of consensus reality, and therfore part of the problem -- a nice painting on the prison wall, or a fanciful story about life outside the prison gates.
Properly understood, a religion is just like a scientific paradigm, in that it is a "frame of reference" that allows us to “see" religious facts it iluminates. Otherwise this inexhaustible bounty goes unseen. Even in science it is understood that "percept follows concept," i.e, "Never trust a fact without a good theory to support it."
A fact is a relation between two events. We are one of the events. God is the other. Thus, in order to think about God, we must move from epistemology to mystepistemology. For if your ontology is wrong, your epistemology will follow.
When spiritual communication is generative, something magical is taking place, as it somehow serves as the translating function that makes the translinguistic "religious object" present in the form of energies or theolougomena. As such, there is always a performance aspect involved. It is always words + music. To speak religiously -- to use language in such a way that it actually mirrors and partakes of the the domain of spirit -- there is a certain rhythm and a certain felicity of phrasing that must be achieved. Not to merge with the ocean but to use language as a bucket. Language must be unsaturated enough to either "bite" into spirit, or "lure" spirit into it. Yes, grace "blows where it will," but it's always better if you don't use language in such a way that you're fighting against it.
This is my objection ot fundamentalists of any kind. Yes, they are dogmatic, but it is not so much the content of the dogma but the form in which it is presented that is troubling. Language is used in such a way that its life-giving qualities are squeezed dry, so you are given merely the husk of the words, not the kernel. They cannot trans-form, only in-form. They do not draw out, but push their way in.
To speak of spirit, one must have one foot firmly planted in reality. But not both feet. One foot must be equally planted in trans-reality, in the world that is prior to the material. You have to catch it before it quickens and congeals into the illusion of solidity. As I get older -- especially now with a child -- I am more deeply entangled in the world than ever. But at the same time, I am more deeply rooted in the other realm as well.
It reminds me of looking into a placid lake with a tall tree on the other side. On the lake there will be a mirror image of the tree, going in the opposite direction -- one up, one down, one exterior, one interior, meeting at the Crossroads where life must be lived. Similarly, when I look into my son's eyes, it is like gazing into an eternity that extends infinitely in two directions -- into him and into me. Growth is growing in both directions, not one or the other; the soul penetrates God just as God penetrates the soul.
Reality is logos, absolute word and infinite grammar. But language is always communication. It is to someone. It is from someOne. Why spend your life decoding the message but never ask who is speaking?
Sufficient language for talking about God has yet to be perfected. I take that back. The language has been perfected, but few remember how to speak it any longer. We've run out of trancelighters who are able to demonstrate it while speaking it. An evolving logos will evolve the consciousness of the person who contemplates it. That's not quite right, for the logos itself doesn't evolve, but causes evolution upon contact with matter, so to speak. This is why religious doctrine "has an aspect of system and an aspect of indeterminacy," for if it didn't, it would simply be God, and no communication would be possible between the Absolute and his annoying relatives, or between God and man.
How to speak of the Omninameable One? It is not that we can say so little about it, but so much. As Schuon writes, the problem is "not through a lack, but through a superabundance of light." Language does not contain it, but it contains language, absorbing words like a sponge or shedding them like water off a duck's back. It cannot be done without paradox, symbolism, wordplay, myth -- all the tools available to half-awake language-bearing monkeys.
Well, that's it for this morning.
To be able to combine the religious symbolism of Heaven with the astronomical fact of the stellar galaxies in a single consciousness, an intelligence is needed which is more than just rational.... The tragic impasse reached by the modern mind results from the fact that most men are incapable of grasping a priori the compatibility between the symbolic expressions of tradition and the material discoveries established by science.... Man, when he trusts his reason alone, only ends by unleashing the dark and dissolving forces of the irrational --F. Schuon, Stations of Wisdom