The Great Inscape!
Life is hard enough. Imagine how difficult it would be if we couldn't fly around at will within the expanding cooniverse of mental space!
Then again, for most people, this imaginative space is either rather cramped and constricted, or else it is a kind of hostile environment that feels quite the opposite of "liberating." As a result, an unfair number of people choose to escape this inscape by living down on the surface of the senses, just like an animal. The point is, this space can be filled with hostile entities that produce persecutory thoughts, or it can be a cold and wet blanket of depression that forms the backdrop of one's life. No wonder people try to escape it through drugs, external distractions, compulsions, "political activism," etc. Who could blame the liberal for not wanting to live inside his own head, and imagining a fantasy utopia in the future? But any utopia will be instantly converted to a dystopia, so long as liberals live there.
So our mental space is fraught with ambiguity, or at least it must be conquered and made habitable, no different, I suppose, than the external world. After all, the world is indifferent if not hostile to our presence within it until we have transformed it into something fit for humans. This cannot be said of any other animal. Only human beings must create the environment in which man becomes possible -- both the exterior and, more importantly, interior environment.
One of the purposes of religion is to convey liberating knowledge. Unlike profane knowledge, which merely adds to the pile of facts and theories in one's head -- and which are indeed analogous to material "objects" -- religious knowledge should have the effect of transforming the subject, which is another way of saying the actual "space" in which we live.
Profane space is always a kind of wall, ceiling, or limit; sacred knowledge is always a mirror, a window, or a door that leads out to the limitless; in short, it is a way in, up, and out. (I should add that psychoanalytic knowledge is a kind of in-between knowledge, in that it should expand one's profane space, without necessarily entering the limitless sacred space; but there is no fundamental reason why the space of the psychoanalyst should be separate from the space of the mystic, which is why I was so attracted to Bion. Ultimately, O is O, which is to say, One in cOOnvision, which is to further say, healthy "20/∞ double vision.")
Let us stipulate that Eden refers to a time in which human beings lived within the eternal space of God-consciousness. One needn't necessarily believe that this ever existed in the horizontal/historical sense in order to understand the deeper lesson, that something happened in our "ontological history" to separate us from our source. Any remotely perceptive individual realizes that we are "exiled" in an unfamiliar world, but the question is, why? Obviously, no other animal feels "alienated," unless he has had sufficient contact with humans or Democrats. But humans have always intuitively realized that we live in a kind of halfway-house that is simultaneously familiar and strange, the former an echo of our horizontal evolution, the latter a dim recollection of our vertical involution. This intersection is indeed our cross to bear.
At the intersection of the horizontal and vertical energies -- at the center of the cross -- is the human heart, which is precisely the human transdimensional "organ" that opens out to eternity. Unlike other organs, it only achieves its full functioning by being wounded and pierced. Remember the Tin Man? Now I know I have a heart, because it's breaking.
This point -- like all points -- is infinite. It is simultaneously the center, the origin, the summit, the deep interior, and the presence of Presence, or Being, for short. It is where, as Perry describes, "the synthesis of all cosmic time and space" occurs, in an "Eternal Present centered in a superluminous fullness of beatitude whereof the Comprehensor is the transcendent Intellect or solar Deity dwelling microcosmically in the 'Eye of the Heart.'"
This is "a point without extension or a moment without duration," and is "centric and axial to all existences, where complementaries and opposites are contained in principial equilibrium..." If profane existence is where the Divine Space is deployed in time, this point is where "time is changed into space": or, to be precise, we feel this sacred space "roiling over" into time, like the waters from a central spring.
That's the microcosm, but it obviously simultaneously opens out to the macrocosm, so that we may know reality in its essence. Or, we might say that microcosm and macrocosm simultaneously co-arise; in this sense, it is absolutely correct that what we call "reality" is a form of our sensibility, so long as we stipulate that this is not an argument for relativism but for Absolutism. It is "the direct reflection of principial eternity, which excludes all succession"; it is both the "sense of eternity" and the "abode of immortality" (Perry). You know, Put down the apple and back away slowly, and nobody dies! (the Coonifesto).
Again, the ultimate purpose of religion is to bring us in closer proximity to this point and therefore this infinite space (and bear in mind that this reality simply "is"; as such, it is not "attained" but merely "realized." But on this side of it, we must speak the paradoxical language of separation (or sin) and purification and attainment at risk of being even more misunderstood; to paraphrase Schuon, before realizing one's essential unity with God, we must first realize the extent of our separation from him.
This, by the way, is another of my objections to new age dharma hustlers like Tolle; if he goes on Oprah and tells her motley group of fans that they are actually God, I say "no way." In a way, this is worse than atheists who preach the opposite, and ultimately just as fruitless. At least the atheist starts with the honest truth: I don't have a clue where God is, because I've completely severed myself from him.
In religious iconography, the Center is depicted as the Sun (macrocosmically) and the Heart (microcosmically). But these two are actually One, or at least not two. This is where interior and exterior (or subject and object) are ultimately unified: "The universe is only 'vision' or 'knowledge,' in whatever mode this is realized, and its whole reality is God: the worlds are woven of visions, and the content of these visions indefinitely repeated is always the Divine, which is thus primal Knowledge and the ultimate Reality -- Knowledge and Reality being two complementary aspects of the same Divine Cause" (Schuon, in Perry).
So, as Aristotle said, truly, "the soul is all it knows." And since she can know the All, she is potentially All, or infinite space. Again, this is "realized" in mystical union, whereas it is simply assumed (but never realized) in secular science. For example, when the secular scientist imagines "the cosmos" or "the big bang," he is dwelling within a profane and "de-spiritualized" shadow of the true Infinite Space which contains the cosmos. To put it another way, the soul of the scientist (or anyone else) is not in the cosmos; rather, the reverse: the cosmos is within the soul of the scientist -- over there, under the couch!
Like God, we always contain our reality, even if it means shrinking reality down to the narrow dimensions of the ego. In other words, even the ego is superior to the cramped little cosmos it creates and projects outward. We always "see double," which is to say, inwardly (first) and outwardly (second).
Well, I'm short on time and long on day, so I think I'll just sign off here. I'm not close to being finished with this topic. To be continued.
Our whole business therefore in this life is to restore health to the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen. --St. Augustine
And then our Lord opened my spiritual eye and shewed me my soul in midst of my heart. I saw the Soul so large as it were an endless world, and as it were a blissful kingdom. --Julian of Norwich
In these outlines, my son, I have drawn a likeness of God for you, so far as that is possible; and if you gaze upon this likeness with the eyes of your heart, then, my son, believe me, you will find the upward path; or rather, the sight itself will guide you on your way. --Hermes
(All quoted material taken from The Spiritual Ascent)