Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spiritual Indigestion and the Gastronomics of Eternity

I'm afraid that with this post, I've bitten off more than I can possibly chew. As a psychotic patient of mine once said, "my eyes are bigger than my head." We're getting into matters which are far too deep to be given their due in a mere blog post. Call it the Balthasar Effect. I need a few thousand pages to flesh things out, so I apologize in advance for the deep superficiality....

Now we get to the heart of the subject: that is, what's in it for me? Remember, the whole point of Self and Spirit is to disclose the cosmic significance of the personal self. It's pretty easy to prove that there is an abstract subject shared by all human beings, and which survives our death, since it was never "alive" in the biological sense.

In this regard, we have the empirical testimony of countless sages and mystics of the East who have achieved moksha, nirvana, or samadhi, i.e., liberation. In those approaches, it's not quite correct to say that one is liberated, since it is specifically one's personal identity that must be effaced in order to achieve the liberation. Indeed, you become "the face before you were born."

But what if you want to be there after you die?

Bolton writes that "immortality can be real in a true but trivial way which confounds it with the immortality of the essence of any consciousness." But unlike the Eastern approaches, a Christian gnosis can never be anti-somatic. Rather, in order to be kosher, it requires "both poles of consciousness," by which he means a unification and harmonization of the infinite and finite, form and substance, abstract principle and phenomenological content. In short, "belief in the Incarnation does not allow that the manifest personality is only a ladder to be kicked away when some unspecified entity has identified with the Nous or Atman." Otherwise, who is saved? And for what purpose?

Again, the Incarnation represents the union of finite and infinite -- it is the pouring out of the Infinite, the total self-abandonment of the Infinite into the finite. Indeed, you could say that God "surrenders" to man -- which is why it is for us to return the favor. After all, it is the finite part of us that requires salvation. The infinite part can take care of itself. The reduction of man to only the impassive and unchanging infinite, i.e., Brahman, "is really a denial of the idea of salvation in any meaningful form."

Truly, God "crucifies" himself in order to be -- and to be here -- at all; in other words, to become "limited" and contained within existence. Just so, man must crucify his horizontally enclosed self in order to unite it with the eternal. Bolton: "This lies at the heart of the cosmic function of spirituality. It is the realization of the function of uniting the worlds of spirit and matter, by which man is the uniquely necessary bond of union between God and nature" (emphasis mine).

Here is where freedom comes in, including the freedom to reject eternity: "Although this mediating function is a potentiality of the rational soul, it is one which it is under no necessity to realize" (emphasis mine). Rather, it can obviously confine itself to the horizontal, although, in my experience, such beings typically do so in a sort of compulsive manner that ends up further entangling themselves in appearances and dissipating the soul.

In other words, the soul isn't static; it is always either moving "toward" or "away" from God. It is as if -- no, we are situated between two attractors, "world" and "spirit." Again your mission, should you choose to accept it, is not to plunge yourself one way or the other, but to harmonize them at their innersection, AKA, the cross.

As Bolton observes, "when this truth is ignored... the result can only be a reduction of religion to forms of social behavior... the opposite of which is the purely soul-centered perspective of the New Age religion." People tend to be inclined in one direction or the other, but our task is to resolve these oppositions "in the light of the assimilative principle." I don't know about you, but when I think of the "assimilative principle," I immediately think of the theophagy of Holy Communion. But maybe it's just because I haven't had breakfast yet.

Take, eat. This is my body. This is my blood. Wo, dude. You're freaking me out. No, it's true. This esoteric coonibalism is the transformative principle through which "the naturally unspiritual becomes spiritual by collaboration with a divine inspiration which involves the whole being, acting between soul and spirit and between body and spirit by means of the soul." In short, you must feed your soul and eat a lot of truth and beauty in order to grow the thing that unites time and eternity.

Regarding free will, "if the whole person is 'converted' voluntarily to his inner principle, and the not-necessarily immortal participates in the necessarily immortal, the effect is one of regeneration," AKA, salvation, or "eternal life."

Conversely, you can spend your life slowly killing your soul by eating a lot of junk food and blowing the uppertunity of a lifetome. And to paraphrase Clint, "dyin' ain't much of a livin', boy."

On a less lofty plane, Bolton quotes Plato, who spoke of how, "if a man is entirely dedicated to appetites and ambitions and devotes all his energies to these, all his thoughts must needs be mortal, and he cannot help but become altogether mortal (so far as that is possible) since he has fostered the growth of his mortality." Hence the various paradoxables of Jesus, to the effect that dying to this kind of dispersive and ultimately meaningless activity is when the real living begins.

18 Comments:

Anonymous unknown OC reader said...

Wow. Great stuff. Loving it. And one question remains - although, it may go unanswered - when are you coming into the Church, Bob? I think, in my humble opinion, that you're already there spiritually, but what about physically?


wv: pillue - the Queen's pillow?

1/14/2009 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Aloysius said...

Carryover from a late comment on yesterdays post about Deepak Chopra:

an absolute firehose of nonsense

1/14/2009 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Aloysius said...

The comment was about Deepak not Bob's post.

1/14/2009 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, it appears you are ready for reentry in Catholicism. Congratulations; it is a good path.

I also observe that everything in your post easily translates/harmonizes to the Mother's teaching regarding the Psychic Being (i.e, the permanant personal soul that grows and progresses using intervals of death between life); this renders the essence of the sermon accessible to people who don't live in the intellect so much.

There is only one correct choice/path, total surrender to the Divine, including the flesh you wear; everything else is just meandering and messing around.

1/14/2009 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I've absolutely nothing intelligent to add, I'm just noting that wv thinks you're a unityr and not a dividyr, Bob. Or something.

Back to digesting...

1/14/2009 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Definitely not for the squeamish...take, eat.

(sorry)

1/14/2009 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Vertigo -- it's not just a movie.

1/14/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's helpful to note that the dispersive elements that Bob speaks of (material avarice, various appetites and lusts, etc) are not generated by people.

These are implanted urges. The take home is that people are not to blame for their own impulses, but only on how they express these impulses.

God is responsible for the existence of the bad impulses; He must be forgiven or at least understood as to why he has placed each of us on the cross to suffer, so to speak.

It is for the greater glory; the trials of your life are there to make you, not to break you, as NVP once noted.

Mercy on sinners, for they know not what they do. Or, mercy on sinners if they know what they do, but don't have the discipline to stop it.

This makes discipline an important spiritual quality.

I would then say that discipline is of the essence. To aquire it or bolster it should be the first goal of all people.

The natural appetites must be mastered. That has to be step 1.

1/14/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

In other words, the soul isn't static; it is always either moving "toward" or "away" from God.

Anyone familiar with the Wii Fit knows the difficulty in shifting and maintaining balance. ;-)

1/14/2009 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Now take a break, Bob, and watch a nice solo by a guy with a cool shirt:

http://gc.guitarcenter.com/drum-off-2008/news/?source=4TP9AC

1/14/2009 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That was fascinating. He didn't need the shirt to speak for him, though - you could see it in the way he paused a couple times toward the beginning, to grab hold of the firehOse and take it for a joyride.

Mastery in motion is always a pleasure to watch.

1/14/2009 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Very interesting - I'm impressed you managed to get that all in (despite not having 1,000 pages to work with).

I find it interesting how so often Christianity wavers between the poles of world and spirit - often we glimpse that cross at the moment of surrender and then fight to regain our bearings. That is bear your cross and follow Me. Otherwise we have a hatred of the world and the flesh and then a reemergence (especially "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn) of the knowledge that our flesh is a key part of who we are.

As you correctly point out the infinite will "take care of itself" the redemption has to occur with us and that part of us (and all of creation) which needs to be redeemed. I'm sure for many we confuse the inability to look beyond the horizontal as believing everything that exists horizontally must therefore be bad and unworthy of redemption. In a way that is correct - failing to recognize that the very point of redemption is to redeem that which is unworthy.

1/14/2009 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“Take, eat. This is my body. This is my blood. Wo, dude. You're freaking me out.”

I tell you, this freaked me out as a kid too. Heck, till I was forty I thought it was still a little strange. If you asked me then what I thought about the strangeness I’d say it was unnecessary. Which always bugged me. But it is supposed to shock the system. It’s the only way to break the hardened. Even if only a drip at a time. Maybe there is also another purpose to the strangeness. To protect it from the irreverent.

Now if there’s one thing about the Lord, he’s right there on the front lines; in the trenches. He doesn’t ask you to do something he hasn’t done himself. When he says, “This is my body. This is my blood.” Is he not saying, “This is my matter, my person, the world, the horizontal. This is my spirit, my movement, that which propels my body, the vertical.” = These things which constitute my whole I maintain in balance. “Take, eat.” = Now you do it, and live.

1/14/2009 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

This, “Take, eat.” Does this not also say, “Die with me”?

I believe Tomberg suggests in “Lazarus, come forth!” that when Thomas eventually catches on from Jesus the true nature of Lazarus’ sickness, he wants to go “die with him.”

1/14/2009 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin the Troll said...

In short, you must feed your soul and eat a lot of truth and beauty in order to grow the thing that unites time and eternity.

or as Ab Sheen used to say, " you are what you eat"

1/14/2009 06:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin the Trill said...

A Violet punfest here: http://ravingatheist.com/2009/01/flower-power/

1/14/2009 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Take, eat. This is my body. This is my blood. Wo, dude. You're freaking me out. No, it's true. This esoteric coonibalism is the transformative principle through which "the naturally unspiritual becomes spiritual by collaboration with a divine inspiration which involves the whole being, acting between soul and spirit and between body and spirit by means of the soul." In short, you must feed your soul and eat a lot of truth and beauty in order to grow the thing that unites time and eternity.

Man, that's beutiful, Bob! The entire post is, so it's difficult to find just one part to comment on. Especially when digesting.
No bellyache here, just sweet contentment and inspiration for a wholotta more of your cookin'. :^)

1/15/2009 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

As has been mentioned, no truth, no matter how profound, can be stated in such a way, no matter how suffused with absolute clarity, as to not be misunderstood.

The more profound the Truth, the more it can be bent into error and even twisted into evil.

The more profoundly true (profound meaning extremely deep, deep meaning it touches, connects, integrates into untold numbers of other ideas, beliefs, convictions and dreams), the more easily it can be misinterpreted.

And what is even more true, and agonizingly torturous to those who deliberately mislead, who deliberately twist truth into lie and into evil; is that each and every one of those misinterpretations and lies, can form the basis for leading you back to that hallowed and profound truth, with even more clarity, understanding, and shear overwhelming integrations into every aspect of your being than the original conveyor of the truth had anticipated.

I seem to have hit a stuffed point. Everything is going in, and has temporarily chocked off the out valve, building pressure... and only this much makes it out, Truth IS, falsehood isn't. All the rest is trying to figure out the shortest path to the same destination.

I just realized that when I look at the cross, I subconsciously think of a starburst... as if each of the four tips are tips of an arrow pointing outwards. Perhaps that's wrong. Perhaps they are (or should also be seen as) pointing inwards. Pointing in to that one point where the two axis become One, where two meet, and without being altered, form something new, a third which encompasses them both, which does not exist without them, and yet which does not exist as in the same way as they do, but it does exist, it is true.

heh,
wv:skylesn
lessons indeed.

1/16/2009 09:07:00 AM  

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