Drinking Diamonds From the Firehose and Swallowing the Mine
Then, after that -- I have no idea, as usual. The thing is, as I said, I am bound and determined to make my way through Balthasar's sprawling -- and I do mean sprawling -- 15 volume systematics. I've almost breezed through volume one, and I have volumes two and three on deck. It's probably -- no, it is -- the most challenging thing I've ever attempted to assimilate, although I suppose truly assimilating Aurobindo would be equally, if not more, daunting, since he was less systematic to begin with. In reading his most recent biography, it seems that the majority of Aurobindo's writings, regardless of how public, were more like a running journal of his own experiences -- as if his attitude was, "If you want to climb aboard, fine, if not, feel free to stay down on the tarmac, but I'm not slowing down."
I'm sure that on a certain level, Balthasar's writings may be seen in the same way, except that he at least attempted with all his heart, soul, and mind to fit his expansive vision into the pre-existing archetypes of Christian dogma, whereas Aurobindo was constantly inventing new terms and categories for his.
Here we can appreciate the virtue of dogma, as it is again analogous to, say, a system of musical theory and notation that allows us to produce music that is both harmonically (vertically) and melodically (horizontally) complex, not to mention interacting (in other words, vertical and horizontal flow together like a wild vine growing up a fixed post -- or better, yet, a living tree -- with the passage of time).
To appreciate the depth of this truth is to know that no man could have invented these dogmas that are so adequate to the transdimensional object they disclose (or simultaneously veil and reveal). People ask why revelation has to be the way it is. The reason is that nothing less can begin to serve as an adequate image and container of the Divine. It's like asking Mozart why he couldn't express himself in the form of a three minute pop single. Not to knock the three minute pop single, since a great single is superior to a bad symphony, just as a healthy joke is superior to the entire works of Deepak Chopra, being that he is a sick joke.
The thing is, Balthasar doesn't give any consideration whatsoever to the reader. He just spews away with the firehose, while you've come in for a little spiritual refreshment. I wonder if this is because he started his own publishing house in order to publish his works? Most writers need an editor. They're not like me, compact and pithy 24/7/365/∞.
Come to think of it, not only is Balthasar the stylistic opposite of Schuon, I'm not sure I would even be able to "organize" Balthasar without having previously assimilated Schuon. Schuon is like a diamond cutter, producing these perfect little multifaceted gems of prose. I don't think I've ever read anyone who was simultaneously so precise and yet pregnant. Indeed, you could say that he is the perfect combination of male and female, absolute and infinite, spirit and letter, form and substance, container and contained.
Balthasar, on the other hand, is like the whole diamond mine. It's one thing to read him. That's the easy part. But how do you get your mind around it? How do you cut through it to find its organizing principle, its deep structure? How to trancelight him into plain Coonglish? It reminds me of something you cannot map, because in order to do so, the map would have to be equally as complex as the territory.
Imagine having to carry around a map as big as the cosmos in order to understand the cosmos. Instead, we can map it with a few equations. But the higher up the food chain you go, the harder this is to do. For example, by the time you get to a human being, it is absurd to think that even the most detailed biography would ever be an adequation to the person.
But what about God, then? How does one create a "theography" adequate to Him? Once again, I give you the miracle of revelation -- of God having the courtesy not just to reveal himself to man, but to reveal himself as a man. That's pretty freaking awesome, that the Ultimate Universal can be refracted through a particular existent in such a way that we can actually begin to grasp it, even if, simultaneously -- and of necessity -- it must always elude our grasp, on pain of not actually being God.
This, BTW, is what the atheists do not understand: that if they could comprehend God in some simple way adequate to their little minds, it would not be God. Rather, revelation must paradoxically combine knowability with unknowability, transparency with opacity, light with divine darkness, consolation with desolation. God cannot be analogous to a mathematical equation, which is necessarily true and therefore eliminates man's freedom.
In this regard, we see the implicit relationship between faith and freedom, which is why only the faithful are truly free. In other words, man is free to accept or reject God. He is not really free to reject gravity, or math, or physics, or the infield fly rule. But he can reject beauty. He can reject goodness. He can -- and therefore must -- reject the designated hitter. And he can reject the Truth of revelation -- which is an elliptical proof of its Truth. Nothing less than the sustained tension of this paradox would be faithful to its object, paradox being a threshold of truth.
Now.... now what? Yes, might as well wrap up Bolton. We were discussing salvation and the personal self, and I think I see a connection with what we've been discussing above. Bolton writes that "What we call the completed life is the sum total of all the person's being, as a single organism extending from conception to death" (emphasis mine).
Here again, this is why you could never create a biographical map adequate to the person. For one thing, note the above emphasis on being. If we equate "being" with those moments when we have been truly "alive," how could you ever capture this in a book? The secret autobiography of our life -- and its real continuity -- is written with the ink of Self on the pages of Being, is it not?
Yes, to the extent that we survive what is called "death," this would be what survives, the being we have assimilated into the Self, and the Self we have assimilated into being. After all, it would be absurd to believe in life after death if you were never alive to begin with.
Thus we see that "in heaven, memory is swallowed up in reality," the reality of eternal being.