Living on a Wound and a Prayer (11.03.11)
The main point is that this card has to do with "vertical respiration," or what UF describes as the double movement of prayer and benediction -- or of (↑) and (↓), respectively. Thus, if you ask why we pray, it's roughly the same as asking why we exhale. We do so in order to inhale. And live.
The ascending and descending energies are parts of a single movement. In fact -- in a manner of speaking, of course -- you could even say that we are the answer to God's prayers.
"The prayers of humanity rise towards God and, after having been divinely 'oxidized,' are transformed into benedictions which descend from above." In prayer, something "leaves" us, but comes back transformed. While this may sound abstract or unscientific, it really isn't, certainly not if you are aware of modern trends in developmental neuropsychoanalysis, which are confirming revolutionary ideas first put forth by the likes of Bion, Fairbairn and Winnicott over 50 years ago (cf. here). It's just a matter of applying the same ideas to the intersubjective relationship with our nonlocal progenitor.
The point is, as Schuon once put it, "prayer fashions man." In a way, man is nothing but a prayer placed in the middle of nowhere, a prayer which ascends to the heavens and links the above and below. Man's very verticality -- however conceptualized -- is a prayer, don't you see? And if there were nothing at the other end of our verticality, man as such truly would be a hopeless prayer, just a long bomb hurled by matter into the cosmic End Zone.
As I was mentioning yesterday, the cries of the infant are prayers to the Divine Mother. The intersubjective relationship between mother and baby is a "reciprocity dance" of mutual projection. When those prayers are systematically unanswered, the infant is ushered into hell -- into some version of autism, narcissism, or depression. An open, intersubjective system with others is not formed, so love cannot enter or escape. While they may "bond" with others, it's really a form of disguised mutual masturbation, of "exterior to exterior." Transferred to the metaphysical plane, you could say the same of scientism, which is entirely masturbatory. It must be oddly comforting, but still, a poor substitute for a relationship with living and breathing reality.
The latter is also a state of spiritual asphyxia: expiration with no inspiration. It is the creation of a dead world by dead and tenured souls. As UF writes, "Spiritual asphyxia menaces he who does not practice some form of prayer; he who practices it receives vivifying benedictions in some form." There is a reason why the blue states are blue: no spiritual oxygen. When people have a "dead" relationship with the Creator, one must always inquire into what it is that the person is projecting into him, i.e., the actual source of the deadness. Suffice it to say that it is within the undead themselves.
Again, there is horizontal respiration, which is between the outside and inside; and vertical respiration, which is between the above and below. UF even suggests that death represents "the abrupt passage from horizontal to vertical respiration," which is why a spiritual practice is rehearsal for death. With enough practice, we may convert what is otherwise a sharp right angle into the more gentle arc of spiritual liftoff. That arc is ultimately a circle that returns us to ourselves, the circle being the perfect symbol of eternity. You might say that prayer is thinking within the curved space of spiritual reality, in such a way that the circle gradually expands.
UF points out that true intellectual or creative work is a prayer. It is fueled by the faith and hope that one's efforts are guided by an "end" that can only be dimly intuited at the start, never "seen." Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe! Blessed are those who tolerate the ambiguity of facts, that they may ultimately reveal principles, and that principles may reveal their Origin. When the world of facts embraces the world of principles, that is a prayer come true.
Prayer takes place at night and in darkness. Again, it is a complement to the wideawake & cutandry thought of the day. In fact, it is why we sleep, or more precisely, dream, for to dream is to metabolize the day and weave it into our psychic substance, just as to think and act during the day is to externalize the soul's dreams and visions. What is human culture but one big dream and/or nightmare? And what is the materialist but a sleepwalker, a man deprived of the vivifying dream of reality?
Blah blah blah yadda yadda, UF then goes into the critically important theme of the wound, and how it is only through the wound that the cosmos is entangled with itself, to such an extent that when we peer at a star (or the starlight penetrates into our eyes), we may be witnessing our own cosmic birth.
Until the appearance of life, there was only an exterior cosmos. But with the appearance of life, there was suddenly this new category, an interior. But in order for there to be an interior, there had to be an exterior with which to exchange matter, energy or information, and this can only take place through a wound.
This implies that there actually was no exterior to the cosmos prior to the emergence of life, being that exterior and interior co-arise. Therefore, there was just.... what? You figure it out.
UF notes that our senses are "wounds," and painful ones at that. Without them, the world cannot "penetrate" us, but sometimes the penetration can damage us. We feel, but as a result, we are aware of pleasure and pain. We see, but that gives rise to both beauty and ugliness.
It is through the wound that an otherwise closed system becomes an open one. In order to know the objective world, your mind must be "wounded" by it, by the "nails of objectivity." But to know God, your heart must be wounded, which is to say, a vertically open system.
When we wonder, we are exploring our psychic wound. When we think, we are trying to heal it. How did the wound get there? Animals don't have that particular wound.
And when we pray, we are exploring our spiritual wound. How did it get there? Why this wounded heart? Ouch!
I suppose so we can know we have one, so that it may be healed in love. God save the man without a broken heart.