The God in Man in God
While that is "absolutely" true, we nevertheless possess a relative existence, and it seems that God has revealed certain fruitful ways to think about him so that he may be grasped by the mind on this side of manifestation: king, lawgiver, father, judge, comforter, etc.
Postmodern man hates more than anything to be duped or taken as a naif, which becomes the source of his self-enclosed and self-satisfied cynicism; it is just metaphysical naivete the long way around, like a Bill Maher. Better to believe in nothing than to risk looking silly in the eyes of other sophisticated yahoos.
As such, as Schuon points out, these sophisticates "merely replace one sentimentality with another when laying claim to 'objectivity'"; in fact, their so-called objectivity is "merely a soft and pretentious sentimentality, which is far more illusory than a transparent 'subjectivity.'" The fundamentalist atheists come to mind, e.g., Dawkins, Harris & Hitchens, all lost in a sentimental and childlike "objectivity."
This is a caricature of true objectivity, which, as every Raccoon knows, is a union of complements: it "does not set up an opposition between cold and heat but transcends them both: like emptiness it stands opposed to a false plenitude, whether hot or cold, or like silence to a heavy and blind affirmation" (Schuon). The Raccoon knows the secret that God is equally a bearded man in the sky, and no such thing. He knows this because he himself has a physical form which he transcends.
Christianity is obviously not the only religion that has promulgated the idea that God has assumed human form, e.g., the "avatar principle" in Hinduism. The main point is this idea that the Absolute may take embodied form in the relative, uniquely so in man, who is the "image and likeness" of the Absolute.
Being that we are the image and likeness, we should expect to see traces of this in both our objective (i.e., bodily) and subjective (i.e., mental) states. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that other animals shouldn't share traces of this absoluteness, only in lesser forms, as they are "descended" from man, rather then vice versa.
In other words, in relative, horizontal, and Darwinian terms, we may be "descended" from animals (or ascended, really), but in absolute and vertical terms the reverse is true. An ape is a partial manifestation of man; man is not a "perfect ape," although Keith Olbermann comes close.
As Schuon writes, there are certain lower forms of life, such as cockroaches or snakes, that repel us because they are "like living conscious matter," whereas "the law of matter is precisely unconsciousness." Conversely, monkeys or olbermen are noteworthy for the opposite reason, that "they are like men who have been deprived of the central consciousness that characterizes mankind." They are not "conscious matter," but "consciousness decentralized, dissipated." At the same time, there are other animals that are obvious symbols of transcendence and beauty, the butterfly being my favorite example. In their case, we see the higher prefigured in the lower.
Now, being that God is both transcendent and immanent, every manifested thing is actually "God in disguise." This is not to be confused with pantheism; for example, even a rock is God, but that does not mean that God is a rock. The latter would represent the pantheistic confusion. Everything points in two directions, toward its own form and to something beyond, or to something that "radiates" through it. We see this most vividly in virgin nature, which engenders a kind of spontaneous worship. The radical environmentalist converts this supernaturally naturalistic awe into a pseudo-religion, conflating an effect with its transcendent cause. Yes, the earth is sacred. But how did it get that way?
In subsequent posts we will be discussing the beauty of the human form, through which transcendence radiates with particular metaphysical clarity, since a human being is nothing other than a "lens" where the vertical "collides" with the horizontal in the most intense way. There was probably a time when it was actually easier for human beings to think of this in the objective sense, whereas now it is probably easier for us to think of it in subjective terms.
To cite one obvious example of man's subjective deiformity, our minds are both "infinite" and "absolute," just like the creator. There is no end to the human mind's inexhaustible creativity; but at the same, we are uniquely capable of knowing absolute truth, even if you are just a secular scientist who believes in the absolute truth of certain mathematical equations.
Again, being that our minds share this deiformity, it would be surprising if not impossible to not see traces of this in our physical form, bearing in mind that we are "descended" from the perfect archetype, the Cosmic man, or Adam Kadmon. For example, when we see Michelangelo's Pieta or David, are we not seeing man's formal perfection liberated from marble? Perhaps my standards are low, but I can see perfection in a three-minute pop song.
When we discuss man's deiform nature, we are talking on the one hand about his capacity to know the absolute, on the other his physical beauty, which itself is a kind of embodied truth. Schuon points out that aesthetics is nothing other than "the science of forms," or formal beauty.
But just as beauty is the splendor of the true, truth itself will conform to standards of beauty. This is why a sense of form, rhythm, and proportion all "play an important part of intellective speculation," and can be important criteria of truth. A mathematician never expects to find an ugly equation ordering the cosmos. That we expect to see ugly art come out of our elite universities tells us all we need to know about them. This art, which produces a de-divinized and therefore dehumanized picture of man, can only be produced by an infrahuman being, exiled and alienated from both God and man.
To put it another way, God cannot be a bearded old lesbian performance artist sitting in the faculty lounge (whether female or male).
This also explains the truth and beauty of scripture, for just as some things are too ugly to be true, others are too beautiful not to be.
Here's nice little three-minute pop confection by Brian Wilson, although you really need to hear it on the Big Hi-Fi to get the full effect of the musical production values: