From Egocentric to Cosmocentric
A few more thoughts on Soloviev before returning to where we were a few days ago, back in volume one. (And you folks should be grateful that I'm making my way through these dense volumes on your bewhole; it's quite a slog!)
I'm pleased to see that Soloviev highlights the importance of the individual to the cosmic spiritual economy, because this is again something that tends to be devalued among those who emphasize the obliteration of the ego. In other words, they conflate "ego" with "individual," which legitimizes either a state of boundaryless blobhood or a hypernarcissistic denial of one's hypernarcissism.
Most of the new-age gurus fall into the latter category (if they aren't borderline sociopaths like a Deepak or Tony Robbins). The blob-types tend to be those who can't tolerate the rigors of of mature functioning (like having a job), and therefore take refuge in a detached, prepersonal cloud of "spirit," while the narcissistic types always require "disciples," which keeps alive the dialectic of their fantasized superiority, which is simultaneously overwrought and brittle.
I suppose one must begin with the question, "just what is the proper role of individuation in the psychic economy?" Of Soloviev, Balthasar writes that "for him it is precisely the personal that is truly and properly 'ideal,' while, conversely, that which is purely generic and anonymous is assigned to matter." Therefore, to deny the individual is to negate one of the highest expressions -- a miracle, really -- of the divine creativity. What seems like an "ascent" into spirit can actually be a regression into matter, if it means tossing aside this divine gift of a unique self.
One critical concern is the very real danger of spiritual inflation that necessarily attaches to the individual. Thus, at every stage of the ascent, an attitude of deep humility is both the seed and fruit, for no one who begins to apprehend the contours of the Divine can possibly retain his grandiosity and hubris. Thus the well-known "paradox" -- which isn't really a paradox at all -- that those most aware of their sinful nature are the saints. In a certain sense, the higher you go, the smaller you get. Conversely, the lower you descend, the more inflated you become.
Think of Queeg, whose contemptuous superiority is sealed by his profound ignorance of both science and spirit. That is the bad kind of individuality. And what makes it bad? First, it is a caricature of individuality, because it exists in a stunted, reactionary, and especially closed form.
In other words, no one who is in a "vertically open" state (↑↓) could possibly maintain such a cramped and desiccated worldview. Such a person must literally die to spirit in order to "live" as a metaphysical Darwinist. In turn, his "self" can only be identified with matter -- for with what else could it be identified? -- which makes him a kind of generic character, superficial and worthless eccentricities notwithstanding. There is no uniqueness about him, just a bundle of horizontal reactions. This is the madness that results from believing that Darwin has counted every hair on your head.
In contrast, God loves people. Real people. But that presupposes "being" or "becoming" real, doesn't it? Now, all Raccoons will have pondered the fact that there are certain people with whom you walk away and say to yourself, "damn, now that's a real person." But what does that mean? Is it just a figure of speech, or is it an actual observation, albeit of a higher dimensional reality?
Obviously the latter. The real person has many subtle-but-obvious characteristics which can certainly be detected with cOOnvision (and scent), but can also sometimes even be literally seen (i.e., the "glow worm" effect). What are these characteristics? To a certain extent I touched on them on pp. 221-224 of the Coonifesto. Since I probably wrote that passage a decade ago, it might be interesting to review it to see if any of it still holds holy water.
Let's see. We begin with an observation by Unknown Friend, who says that "Real contact with the spiritual world always engenders the influx of forces." This is the grace or the subtle force, symbolized by (↓).
By the way, I often get emails from people, essentially asking "what's the secret," and as far as I'm concerned, that's it. Surrender + Grace is the only path I know. As Aurobindo wrote, once we enter this state, our "old predetermined destiny [I would say "fate"] begins to recede. There comes in a new factor, a Divine Grace, the help of a higher Divine Force other than the force of Karma, which can lift the sadhak beyond the present possibilities in his nature."
Amen to that. How could I, on my own, ever lift myself by my own buddhastraps beyond my present possibilities? I tried. I couldn't. If others can, go for it. But it is not the Raccoon Way.
Another important point is that while (↓) is (super)naturally ubiquitous, we must become conscious of it; we must prepare ourselves both to be worthy of receiving it and able to detect it when it comes. Here I might compare it to Polanyi's description of scientific discovery, which seems to be "guided," as it were, by a subtle intuition of an approaching breakthrough -- as if the future can cast its shadow back into the present.
I would say that the same applies to O. How can you know when you are "near" it? I think by something analogous. However, how it specifically manifests will partly depend upon how it is "inflected" through the lens of the individual. For example, for me, when I write these posts, I am clearly non-trying to enter that receptive space in which I conform myself to O. I'm definitely not "thinking" in the usual sense, just trying to "amplify" a kind of flow between O and (¶). And when it's really working, I hope it comes out in a way that is simultaneously universal even while being individual.
Now normally, one would think that those two categories would be mutually exclusive. For example, a valid scientific theory can only be universal, and must be cleansed of its individuality. Not so with the realm of Spirit. This is because physics describes a relatively simple reality consisting of only four dimensions, whereas the self abides in a bi-logical space that transcends but includes the world of physics (and from which the world of physics is a declension).
Here again, think of Christianity: the ultimate truth is a function of Word + flesh, of the ultimate universal being inflected through a particular human being. But is Jesus a generic son of a nobodaddy? Hardly! He is a quite vivid somebody and somabuddhi, a unique individual with a distinct manner of expressing himself and idiom all his own. He is not some anonymous sage spouting platitudes, nor is he a post-personal blob of holy goo. And frankly, he wouldn't mean anything to us if he weren't such a man. Which is why Petey says, Ascent you a son, amen for a child's job!
Here is a quote by Smoley from my book. It could hardly be more accurate:
"[Y]our whole body and soul are merely a sort of telescope through which something much larger and wiser and more powerful is peering out at the world. As such a realization grows and deepens, you may increasingly sense that you know certain things without knowing how you know them. You begin to have access to the knowledge that is common to the whole human race."
Think about the profound changes that occurred in you the first time you fell in love and became a deeply open system on the horizontal plane. Now, apply that same idea to the vertical plane. When we become open to the Divine, what is the result? Let's see, "lightness" of being, innocence, transparency, spontaneity, and simplicity, to which I might add presence, "flow," gratitude, humility, and a lot of why me?!, i.e., ongoing repentance and metanoia.
Also, I've noticed that figure and ground tend to be reversed, so that one lives from the inside out and top down, which results in a sense that time is leisurely flowing out from a center of eternity, instead of just "rushing by" and hurtling us toward our doom. In short, one becomes a "mode of the infinite," emphasis on both.