It is Not Good that God Should be Allone
Bolton notes that "it is generally agreed that the union of the soul with God is the goal of religion, and that its highest forms are the subject of mystical writings." However, "there is much less agreement about the exact nature of the union." Again, for monistic religions, the union could be represented by an equation to the effect that Reality = existence - you. In short, if you're not part of the dissolution, you're the problem. Not a very good deal, IMO.
But in Christianity, mystical experience represents "a union between real persons." In this case, the equation would be something to the effect that Father + Son = Reality. Or again, infinite + finite = true infinite.
In order to mediate this deuspute, we must meditate on the true meaning of union and of person, for union cannot merely be an indistinct blending of substances, nor can it come about as a result of the elimination of persons. Let's say I build a nuclear device powerful enough to utterly reduce the world to its molecular components. Would the result be "closer" or more distant from God? After all, in so doing, we've gotten rid of all the egos, and made the world truly "one."
Or, consider how they treat women in the Islamic world. Being that the face is the externalization of our unique interior soul, those cultures attempt to suppress this uniqueness by concealing it in a black bag. As a result, any woman becomes all women, and all women are any woman. Is this denial of uniqueness and individuation a good thing?
On the other hand, in the West, we have gotten to the point that we vastly overvalue the existentially detached individual who has lost contact with his archetypal, or principial, manhood. In other words, mere individualism is also of little use if it devolves into a hypertrophied cosmic narcissism existing for its own sake. Rather, the true meaning and purpose of individuation can only be appreciated in a dialectical relationship with God, the Subject of subjects and Person of persons.
This is not that different from the manner in which the child can only flourish and actualize his humanness in the dialectical space between child and adult. Child and adult are not merely "stages of growth," nor is "adult" a kind of isolated endpoint of development. Rather -- and this has become much more evident to me with fatherhood -- child and adult mutually define and amplify one another (which is one reason why teen motherhood is generally such a catastrophe, because it is a relationship between babies).
In having a child, I have become more "adult," even while -- or because of -- actualizing a kind of deeper contact with my own inner child. A parent who cannot tolerate his inner child, or who has lost contact with it, will be a poor parent. Equally destructive are parents who cannot tolerate their children's separation, so the child is not allowed to discover himself and individuate from the parent.
I see this all the time -- parents and children who are "one," but in an entirely pathological way. I am reminded of Deion Sanders, who was going through a divorce a few years back. A sportscaster asked him if it would be a distraction during the season, and he responded with words to the effect of, "Nah. It ain't like it's family or nothin'."
This is no joke, because healthy parenting will actualize a real person who is separate from you, partly because the good parent recognizes from the outset that their child is an autonomous soul who must be treated with the intrinsic dignity owed to a person.
But the bad parent sees the child as an extension of him- or herself, and doesn't permit real individuation. This reverses the flow of evolution and leads to psychohistorical stagnation. After all, if children loved their parents as much as parents loved their children, that would be the end of development, because everyone would marry their mother (or compulsively rebel against her, which amounts to the same thing). And of course, many, if not most, people symbolically do just that, as Freud discovered over a century ago.
Transposed to the key of Spirit, perhaps we can learn something about the relationship between Father and Son, who are "one" and yet distinct. Bolton notes that "Union is by definition only possible between similars, not between things which differ absolutely, and in the present case, the difference between God and creature is more extreme than between any two finite entities." Again, the easy way out is to just eliminate that which is "not God," but that "is merely a denial of the real problem, because on this basis, union qua union [of persons] would be void of content."
Bolton sees the solution in a distinctly Raccoonish sort of way, basing it on two interrelated principles, first, that the Whole is present in every part, and second, that every level and possibility of God will be actualized (i.e., in God there is no distinction between his potentiality and actuality). Therefore, if man is the image of God and a microcosm of being, he is ultimately.... darn, I wish I could reproduce that symbol in my book. But just imagine O with a point at the center. That's us. Note that each of us connotes a remote little boat afloat upon the wider moat of Universal being, quote unquote.
But before we gloat, we must remember the goat of the story, Adam. As a consequence of the Fall, Bolton says that man's "individual created nature was no longer integrated with its spiritual center." However, "despite the consequent corruption of human nature, the divine spark was not affected in itself, but only in its relation to the personality." But luckily for us, "grace is always able to reactivate it," thereby resuscitating our little mystical-intellectual pilot light.
Now, this movement represents nothing other than our evolution to God's involution. Other animals do not really evolve, but remain fixed on their particular archetypal plane. They participate in God's "procession," but not his "reversion." As Bolton explains, "Only the power of reversion can balance procession and liberate the being from the entropic current of time. In other words, procession alone ultimately negates itself," as it proceeds all the way to the "relative nothingness" at the vertical periphery of existence.
But reversion preserves the being, and results in "something far more complex than what originally proceeded," that is, the union of God and man, joined in love, i.e., "a free union between two real beings." Sort of like the Trinity, only "actualized" down here.