Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Precious Disembodied Fluids (11.29.11)

We still have a few things to cover in Temperance. As usual, I'm not entirely sure how they relate to the main topic of the chapter, but they are nevertheless accurate and helpful.

UF points out that there are actually three primary modes of spiritual experience: vision, inspiration, and intuition; or perception, communication, and identification. "Vision presents and shows us spiritual things, inspiration infuses us with understanding of them, and intuition reveals to us their essence by way of assimilation with our essence." Or, to use a digestive metaphor, first you must recognize what to eat; then chew and swallow it; and finally metabolize and assimilate it, so that the two substances become one.

Alternatively, we could think of these modes as taking place on the planes of feeling, knowledge, and being, each of which has degrees of depth (and can only be artificially separated; think of the three modes as a dynamic trialectic). As I have mentioned before, for the average worshipper, religion can embody "metaphysics without knowledge." In other words, the metaphysics is implicate, but nevertheless true.

This is again why the most simpleminded creationist is nevertheless closer to the truth than the most sophisticated atheist. Such a person "feels" the truth, even if he cannot necessarily express it in way acceptable to the atheist, who is incapable of feeling truth to begin with. It should go without saying that there are saintly people who are not intellectuals, and that they know something the atheist doesn't.

UF notes that spiritual vision -- just like its physical analogue -- expands the horizon of one's being. All of our senses are actually different varieties of touch; for example, with vision, we are touching photons; with hearing, we are touching air vibrations; with olfaction, we are touching molecules floating in the air.

Just as our physical vision expands our subjective horizon -- even to the stars and planets -- so too does spiritual vision give access to realities that are not immediately present.

For example, when we read, say, Genesis or the Gospel of John, each of them helps us to see realities that are vertically "present," but might otherwise go undetected -- just as a person without vision (unless told) would know nothing about stars and planets. Scripture literally helps us "touch" these realities. But so too do other spiritual modes -- really, anything that directly communicates divine truth, love, or beauty. Often, as UF describes, this contact or "touch" will be accompanied by tears, which signify the "flow" between the two domains, the eternal and the temporal:

"The contact between image and likeness is experienced as inner weeping.... [T]he expression 'I am moved to tears' is only a reflection of what happens when image and likeness touch. They then mingle in tears -- and the inner current which results is the life of the human soul." I'm guessing that atheists have never wept upon encountering a transformative truth, but that's not surprising, for the tears again signify depth of experience, and nothing as shallow as atheism could ever produce such an effect. (To say nothing of the sacred guffah ha! experience known only to authentic Raccoons.)

There are tears of sorrow, of joy, of gratitude, of admiration, of compassion, of pride in one's children, of tenderness, of reconciliation, each having to do with the intensity of one's inner life, which "pours out" in the form of tears, either outwardly or "inwardly."

When is the last time you were moved to tears? What was that movement about? For me, it occurred just yesterday, while watching the film Becket. I'm not saying I was sobbing convulsively. In fact, you wouldn't have noticed anything, because it was mostly inward (we Godwins are men of steel). But while watching the ceremony where Becket is elevated to Archbishop, the holiness and sanctity of the occasion caused something to well up inside of me. The point is not so much to walk around crying all the time, but to notice these sometimes subtle movements within the soul, for that is your life.

So there is spiritual vision, or touch, which involves depth of feeling and gives access to a new realm of facts. Then there is spiritual inspiration, or communication, which involves depth of knowledge and understanding. It takes the facts given by vision and converts them to explicate knowledge. This is none other then O-->(n), or "gnosis."

At the same time, there is no depth without unity, and vice versa. Necessarily, as one's knowledge deepens one will begin to apprehend the interior cosmic unity, or the Logos, that makes intellectual unity possible to begin with. Contrast this with the absurd "horizontal unity" of the flatlanders, which is a metaphysical impossibility.

Now, vision has more to do with (↓), while inspiration has more to do with (↑). This is because, like our sensory vision, it is mostly a passive modality. We just open our eyes, and whoomp, there it is.

But inspiration, as UF defines it, requires more effort: not just tears, but sweat. We have spoken of tears. When is the last time you sweated to deepen your vision?

I well remember the first time this happened to me. It was in the spring of 1985, when I first encountered Bion. That awakened something in me and set me off on a wild nous chase, the details of which are unimportant. Mrs. G and I were living in sin in a one bedroom apartment with virtually no furniture, so I was sitting on the floor grappling with Bion, literally perspiring in a kind of intellectual fever that was full of implications which took years to sort out. You could say that it was my intellectual "big bang." (By the way, I am not recommending Bion to anyone, because the point is to find the person who introduces you to yourself; I am not a "Bionian.")

Speaking of Bion, in order to have inspirations, one's mind must be unsaturated: "the answer is the disease that kills curiosity." I was apparently a good candidate, for I had essentially learned nothing from kindergarten all the way through my undergraduate work. I had no answers, diseased or otherwise. It's just simple physics that if you want something to pour into you, your vessel should be relatively empty and capacious. Elsewhere UF writes that while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one.

UF has a good line: "Children know how to ask and dare to ask. Are they presumptuous? No, because each question that they pose is at the same time an avowal of their ignorance." Schuon said something to the effect that there is more light in a good question than most answers. You will note that our scientistic jester is full of bovine questions that harbor no light -- or even capacity for light -- at all.

UF describes inspiration as a "thinking together," and this is indeed what it is. Again, to use the example above, I was not simply "learning" Bion. Rather, we were "thinking together" in such a way that it sounded all sorts of latent themes within me -- and which were me.

So, to summarize for today, "say to yourself that you know nothing, and at the same time say to yourself that you are able to know everything, and -- armed with this healthy humility and this healthy presumption of children -- immerse yourself in the pure and strengthening element of the 'thinking together' of inspiration!"

27 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Re: tears -
Some years back I was in a small group of people, including some who were my clients, and somehow the conversation came 'round to the rhetorical question, "What would you do if you knew you would die tomorrow?"

Various answers were offered, but when my turn came, I said that I thought I would sit down and cry.

Right away, the group moved in a little closer and, metaphorically holding my hand as if to comfort me, said "Oh, no, nooo ... you mustn't be sad ... you should feel good about yourself."

Yikes!

11/14/2008 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

>>When is the last time you were moved to tears?<<

Why just this morning. During a phone conversation with my DxH, who I divorced 9 years ago and have been seeing for the past nine months, there came that touch that revealed to me: "our hearts ARE married!", more deeply than at any time during our 26 year relationship. I'm so thankful to God's grace for softening and reconciling our hearts.

11/14/2008 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger jp said...

On the subject of childern and questions, here's an interesting blog post from another blogger on the subject of children and music.

Crowds Ignore World Renowned Violinist: What Does This Say?

11/14/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

JP, I dunno if I agree with the author regarding that particular incident. In the case of many of the folks passing by, certainly there was probably a big element of "pearls before swine," but I think people, especially people in a hurry to get from point a to point b in a big city, are so accustomed to music that it would probably be more unusual if the place were quiet. Hell, there are a lot of places now with loud music piped into parking lots, and I've been in shops where a very talented classical pianist is parked by an escalator, giving a fine performance. People don't stop, they barely even glance at the musician, because they're accustomed to tuning it out. I bet if seats had been placed in a semi-circle in front of Bell, the response would have been different (the perception would have shifted from "street musician who wants donations" to "performance worth sitting and watching"), but the context matters.

Children stop and listen because they aren't in a hurry and they haven't learned to filter out the background "noise." Anyway, I don't think it's just that people (adults) are swine with no soul for music; I think it has more to do with oversaturation.

11/14/2008 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

And I cried reading QP's comment. That's pretty cool.

11/14/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"When is the last time you were moved to tears? What was that movement about? For me, it occurred just yesterday, while watching the film Becket. I'm not saying I was sobbing compulsively. In fact, you wouldn't have noticed anything, because it was mostly inward (we Godwins are men of steel). But while watching the ceremony where Becket is elevated to Archbishop, the holiness and sanctity of the occasion caused something to well up inside of me. "

Ho... I netflix'd that a couple weeks ago, and had the similar experience... well not actual tears, but that involuntary gasping for breath, where the heart swells and … something… juices through every nerve in your body. Also managed to get both boys to sit down and watch ‘an old movie’ (which they define as anything pre-1990 (Star Wars excepted. Of course.)) with me … and they actually stayed and watched the whole thing (I think they became hooked at the woodcutter’s hut, as he tries to free the brother & release the girl).

11/14/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

“When is the last time you sweated to deepen your vision?
I well remember the first time this happened to me.”

Me too, it was reading Ayn Rand’s “Philosophy: Who needs it”, where in the course of the first two essays, she utterly demolished all of my unexamined assumptions. “Wha..???! , I had to beat some of those sentences into my mind, to see whether my ideas or hers would crack first, and nearly every one of mine shattered after some focused and steady pounding.

Here’s one of the few areas where I finally realized hers showed some deep cracks:
"Alternatively, we could think of these modes as taking place on the planes of feeling, knowledge, and being, each of which has degrees of depth (and can only be artificially separated; think of the three modes as a dynamic trialectic). As I have mentioned before, for the average worshipper, religion can embody "metaphysics without knowledge." In other words, the metaphysics is implicate, but nevertheless true. "

Concepts are built and understood from the ground up, and basic emotional responses behave like dashboard sensors reading your inner state, but there is more to it than that, whether through conceptual linking, archetypal resonance, whatever… religion is so much more than irrational just-so folk tales, it does enable real wide angle, top down metaphysical understanding, and it blazes a path to wisdom and truth, and it is fully capable of enabling you to open yourself to that, with or without what we would normally consider ‘must have’ knowledge.

Ahem. Well,

That modernity has cast our knowledge in such a way as to obscure that realization… that’s a crying shame.

11/14/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

QP, now that's cool!

No, I'm not.


It's the onions in my chilli.

It is....

11/14/2008 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

I'm guessing that atheists have never wept upon encountering a transformative truth, but that's not surprising, for the tears again signify depth of experience, and nothing as shallow as atheism could ever produce such an effect.

So, yeah. Nice illustration there of one of my points - guesses and intuition need to be tested. Otherwise they can lead you astray...

11/14/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Moved to tears...

Children of Men did that to me. It was the imagery more than plot or dialog - a long gauntlet, awakening, sacrifice, a last-ditch rowboat then out of the fog, the rescue ship.

[Clears frog from throat.]

Elsewhere UF writes that while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one.

Brings to mind Jesus' words, "Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." -Matt 11:28-30

We just open our eyes, and whoomp, there it is.

Yeah, sometimes it's exactly that.

Two Houses
identical twins
puzzle out paradoxes
mythunderstanding

11/14/2008 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Moved to tears, last five minutes:

"'THE WAR IS OVER AND WE WON:' Michael Yon just phoned from Baghdad, and reports that things are much better than he had expected, and he had expected things to be good. 'There's nothing going on. I'm with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I'm with haven't fired their weapons on this tour and they've been here eight months. And the place we're at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there's nothing going on. I've been walking my feet off and haven't seen anything. I've been asking Iraqis, "do you think the violence will kick up again," but even the Iraqi journalists are sounding optimistic now and they're usually dour.' There's a little bit of violence here and there, but nothing that's a threat to the general situation. Plus, not only the Iraqi Army, but even the National Police are well thought of by the populace. Training from U.S. toops has paid off, he says, in building a rapport."

Six years ago, the average Iraqi lived in fear of their own government. Today, things are looking just a wee bit better.

And yesterday, it was this, among many other things. (What? I'm a girl, I can get a little inwardly weepy now and then, so long as nobody's looking)

11/14/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Guess I'll be moved to tears again, today.
USPS just dropped Children of Men in my mailbox.

11/14/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Two Houses

identical twins
puzzle out paradoxes
mythunderstanding



Gather my broken fragments to a whole,
As these four quarters make a shining day.
Into thy basket, for my golden bowl,
Take up the things that I have cast away
In vice or indolence or unwise play.
Let mine be a merry, all-receiving heart,
But make it a whole, with light in every part.

- George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

11/14/2008 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Teilhard de Chardin
mentioned the other day?
[my phone connection was fritzed since Wed.]
A great piece appeared mentioning him
here, scroll down almost 1/2:

...I wouldn't describe an example of self-mastery, but I would of enlightenment. The most evocative example for me was an old man who I used to take walks with. When I was fourteen years old my parents got divorced, and I was just grief-stricken about it. I took to running down Park Avenue, late for school—I would run from my grief. And one day I ran into an old man and knocked the wind out of him. I picked him up and he said to me in a French accent, "Are you planning to run like that for the rest of your life?"

I said, "Yes sir, looks that way."

He said, "Well, bon voyage!"

11/14/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"I'm guessing that atheists have never wept upon encountering a transformative truth, but that's not surprising, for the tears again signify depth of experience, and nothing as shallow as atheism could ever produce such an effect."

This contradicts your claim of understanding atheists.

You're correct that atheism is "shallow", but that's because it's a shallow term. It says almost nothing about what an atheist is. Think of how poorly "theist" describes someone -- the theist could be a radical Muslim, a liberal Christian, a Wiccan, or a pantheist.

Last time I was moved to tears was watching "Prison Girl" (if you don't know what it is, no, it's not prurient).

11/14/2008 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/14/2008 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Heh, I understand Bob's point perfectly now. It of course dovetails with several other; but that's the way it works.

It did serve to 'serve up the dirt': RE 'What is a transformative truth?' and 'What is an atheist?'

I'd say more but... it wouldn't be prudent.

11/14/2008 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cry when I have nothing to attack on this blog. Today I can't seem to work up a solid beef against this post. Boo Hoo.

Sin-cerely, Liz Hard Trollette, Officer of Her-Assment and Poop- a-anda, Dept "M".

11/14/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

-Tears?
just today, killing time in a B&N
til a restaurant opened: read Henry Miller's appreciation of THE DHARMA BUMS and his take on the author in a letter to the person who sent him the book: really generously giving it up for Kerouac! [whom i identify with-revere]
salty tears = experience deeply encoded

11/14/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

This one inspires tears of a different sort.

"One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs."

One guess as to what her political "beliefs" are. Kudos to her for being brave enough to try the experiment, though.

11/14/2008 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I had some tears appear yesterday, readin' Empire of Lies by Andrew Klavan. I'm only a few chapters in, but he has managed to dredge up some old memories in me.
Back when I wallowed in hedonism.

The tears were a result of regret and grace. Shame and gratefullness. Aye. Redemption. Thank God I am no longer the man I was.

And QP's news brings salt to my eye. I'm so happy for you! :^)

11/14/2008 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gecko said...

"because the point is to find the person who introduces you to yourself.
Thanks for the introduction, Bob.

11/14/2008 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Intellectial Big Bang."

"It's just simple physics that if you want something to pour into you, your vessel should be relatively empty and capacious. Elsewhere UF writes that while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one."

When everything you thought you knew comes crashing down in countless pieces, and you gno it's useless to try to put them back together again.

And yet you gno that brilliant burst of Light that destroyed your hollow knowledge, which is to say, no knowledge of all, only a construct of our ego, is the only Way to find True knowledge.

For me, my intellectual big bang set the stage or foundation for unknowing, leaving room to learn what is Real and True.
I was truly humbled by the trinaca blast.

11/15/2008 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

In a sense, my old "knowledge" was a mirror, an image that had to be shattered.
And thankfully, I realized that simply reconstructing my mirror would be useless, and that I had to work on another mirror. A mirror, or I Amage based on Truth.

Bob, would it be right to say that our image impacts our likeness in a big way?
IOW's does image come first and effect our likeness? Can our likeness be out of synch with our image?

I know this was from a few days ago, but it is connected to Temperence along with vision, inspiration and intuition.

11/15/2008 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I believe the last time I was moved to tears was when watching a white-haired elderly couple slowly dancing together, oblivious to the activity around them.

Well, actually I was moved to tears again when I recalled it this afternoon, so that would be the most recent.

Overall, I guess few things move me to tears except love and death. I'm not sure that is a good thing, but it seems true for now.

11/15/2008 12:32:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

Looks like we're a buncha weepy hombres! :)

Owing to amazon's generosity one can access the very Miller letter i saw yesterday in DHARMA BUMS
~a taste~

"From the moment I began reading the book I was intoxicated. It’s not only joyous, carefree reckless kind of writing, but highly poetic, sensive and meaningful. Even when [Jack] is nonsensical he makes great sense….
Whether he is a liberated individual I don’t know but he is certainly a liberated writer. No man can write with that delicious freedom and abandonment who has not practiced severe discipline. The way he plays havoc with syntax is an inspiration. He says exactly what he wants, in his own way, and he has a thousand ways of doing it. He has no fear, no inhibitions, no spite, no malice. {Kerouac} has a pure heart big enough to include the creature world, plants, rocks, even worms. It is even big enough to include the idea of a God…"

-H.Miller

11/15/2008 03:14:00 AM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

“When is the last time you were moved to tears? What was that movement about?”

It was about a month ago in church, at the funeral of an old aunt in my girlfriends family (she just turned 100 years this summer, and I only met her once on just that 100th birthday). It was a very lovely ceremony and I felt the presence of the Holy Ghost.

And sweat? Well, there was quite a lot of transpiration going on while reading the Coonifesto...

/Johan

11/15/2008 06:47:00 AM  

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