Monday, February 02, 2009

The Moon Shining at Midday

For anyone who sees -- or who believes they can see -- real beauty in the world, Christianity offers the ultimate vindication, since it permits us "to possess the infinite within the finitude of form" (Balthasar). Again, for the irreligious anthropocentrist, beauty necessarily withers and disintegrates under the crushing weight of a barbarous materialism, or, at the other end, an effete idealism that swallows up the finite within the infinite, denying the dignity and nobility of the former.

You could say that with Christianity, male and female (i.e., Absolute and Infinite) are harmonized and love hopefully ever after. We needn't divorce the primordial couple and grant custody of our lives to One or the (M)other. But the materialist gives custody of his soul to mamamaya, while the idealist gives it to papurusha (in Vedanta, purusha is the masculine principle which "witnesses" the play of maya, the eternal feminine).

Since God manifests as the wholeness of beauty, we must enter a mode that is adequate to this beauty, since beauty always transcends the components through which it expresses itself. According to Balthasar, faith is the theological act of perception. And naturally, this faith must be with the whole being -- heart, mind, and soul -- in order to be adequate to the wholeness we seek. This would be one of the meanings of "no one comes to the father but through me," because faith in the Son objectively reveals the beauty of the Father (i.e., he is the Form of the Formless, not in some secondary manner, but intrinsically so).

Or am I off base? I'm not a theologian, but I play one in cyberspace. Let's just say it makes sense to me so far.

Speaking of which, one of the reasons I still hesitate to join a formal organization (aside from the Raccoons) is that I would have a hard time with someone saying to me, "nope. Can't think that. This is the proper way." That may well be the case, but I still need to discover these truths independently, or they might never be realized in me. Or, put it this way: I find it very.... bracing to independently discover and realize this or that transcendent truth, even (or especially!) when it's been discovered millions of times before by earlier pneumanauts. On the other hand, I find it tedious to merely learn it. It's like the difference between reading about love vs. falling in love, or studying child development vs. having a child.

Obviously, I give great weight to precedent and tradition. But say, in the case of Balthasar, I'm not merely trying to "learn" from him, much less memorize his ideas. Rather, I am attempting to enter his world, so that I might begin to see what he sees. And I am doing so in faith, because I am quite sure that he is someone worthy of my entrusting it to him. How do I know this? Well, first of all, judge the tree according to its fruits, and I'm feeling pretty fruity lately, even if I only understand about half of what he's talking about and just bobtize the rest.

Here, this is good: elsewhere, Balthasar says that "Faith is the light of God becoming luminous in man," for in the end, "God is known only by God." So faith is the dark light with which God sees himself through us.

Which reminds me of a vivid dream I had the other night. The idea of the "sun shining at midnight" is a common metaphor for the mystical experience, in which plunging ourselves into the deepest darkness reveals the brightest light. But in this dream, the moon was shining at midday. It was a moon as bright as the sun, setting out over the ocean.

I meditated on this image, and it made me think of gnosis (the good kind), through which we are able to apprehend the subtle light of God even amidst the overpowering brightness of the material world. I would even go so far as to say that cOOnvision is nothing less than "the mOOn shining at midday," through which our night vision is preserved even within the blinding brightness of the day. A materialist knows only the midday sun, as his faculties are too dense to apprehend anything more subtle than that.

So the first thing we must cultivate is this subtle "light of faith," which can more or less become extinguished if not tended to and nurtured. Here again, this is quite different from the manner in which religion was presented to me as a young kit, and which made it so easy to reject and even ridicule. For it is not simply a matter of transferring "the psychology of the purely human belief in testimony onto the Christian faith," as if we are studying something as concrete as matter.

I am reminded of something James mentioned in a comment about the intelligent design/evolution debate:

"Both sides of the ID/Ev debate want to be seen as doing 'science' as the term is presently accepted, which (in their context) means they want to be seen as doing biology. This is why I see the whole debate as an inner-biological turf war. So long as all sides are insisting 'I am doing biology' I don’t see how my opinion is of any ultimate importance."

As you no doubt recall, I mentioned this point on page 38 of the Coonifesto: "And yet, our wonderment at the mere order of the universe -- marvelous though it may be -- is misplaced. Both the scientific priesthood and the creationist countermovement make much of this order, but to opposite ends (one to prove the necessity of a creator, the other to prove a creator unnecessary). Either way, a metaphysics of order is a metaphysics of the dead-on-arrival past, an eternally frozen or repetitive universe seen through the rearview mirror of mathematical invariance."

James points out that "the upshot of no one respecting the rigor of theology, and everyone respecting the rigor of science, is that when people want rigorous arguments for God’s existence they turn to physics or biology or thermodynamics, etc. Let ‘em go if they want to. They can see what the modern sciences will give them. In the meantime, theology still remains with all of its rigor, all of its certainty, all of its non-hypothetical knowledge, and a whole cache of proofs that work regardless of how the ID/Ev debate falls out.

"And yes, some of the arguments that theology has are design arguments. The design arguments (as St. Thomas articulates them) work just fine regardless of whether living species came to exist by chance. St. Thomas, following Aristotle, never denied that many things arise by chance."

The point is, the ID proponents are in a way as metaphysically hamhanded as those they would presume to defeat, because they are still conceding true theology to science, instead of developing a mode of perception adequate to the theological object. Once you accomplish the latter, then you realize that of course the cosmos manifests a deep intelligence and beautiful order on every level. How could it not? If intelligent people want to spend their lives proving that intelligence doesn't exist, let 'em go nuts, since they already are anyway.

For as Balthasar writes, "When the spirit attains to real Being it necessarily touches God, the source and ground of all Being. The spirit's horizon is not confined to worldly being, but extends to absolute Being, and only in this light can it think, will, and love; only in this light of Being does it possess language as the power to know and to name existents. Otherwise, no proof of God could ever be formulated, or be in any way conclusive." For it is "only here in the innermost sanctum of the spirit that the deeper and higher light of the self-disclosing God can shine out of the light of Being."

By first becoming adequate to this Being through the grace of faith, grace then assimilates us into its endless depths. The moon shines at midday. Congratulations. You are a loony Coon.

26 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

"Or am I off base? I'm not a theologian..."

Nor am I, at all. But the idea that "...faith is the theological act of perception" seems right to me. This is what I was alluding to in my reply to Cryptic a couple of days ago -- that to "invest belief" in something like God is not adequate to the subject. Faith, however, has been equated with perceiving greater scales of Being, or Reality, allowing one to recognize (perceive) God.

"And naturally, this faith must be with the whole being -- heart, mind, and soul -- in order to be adequate to the wholeness we seek."

What this statement implies also seems to me to be beyond "belief," in the sense that gnoing is (way-)beyond "opinion." And it implies an integration of the person that few people even have heard of, much less attempted.

Practically speaking, Balthasar's wrapping of these ideas in "Beauty" brings them, well, up close and personal, where we can access them.

2/02/2009 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

drunk on the spirit
by beautiful allusion
moonshine at midday

2/02/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, yes and ys, to what you both said.
Wish I could elaborate today; still waiting to fly home and so exhausted I can barely think straight, but the sparks are flying all the same.

I'm glad you're reading and sharing the Balthasar, Bob.

2/02/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ha - or rather to what all three of you said :)

2/02/2009 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I the night I dreamt
And sat nodding
It was warm and dark and bright
A vision, throbbing

To my eyes the dark
Of a small room
Had become light my work
Of seeming gloom

I knew myself awake
And praying
No move did I make
Nor saying

The sun at night
A simile
Is far more bright
In reality

And when I walked a'noon
My eyes say:
I saw the moon, the moon
at midday!

(There is a story of a monk who saw the 'sun and midnight' - the uncreated light. When he was done praying he went out and thought it was night. But it was midday - the uncreated light was so bright that the light from the sun was as darkness.)

2/02/2009 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Since it's loonycoon day...

It's not often I can't wait for a book to be published. This one has awesome written all over it.

2/02/2009 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous bob f. said...

Bob, you've probably noticed that there aren't many comments lately.
I think it's like dogs watching television; it enough if they watch; you don't expect intelligent commentary too.
Woof!

2/02/2009 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Actually, the more I write about religion, the less interest. Which is ironic, because back when I wrote more about politics, the #1 complaint by far was "why do you mix up the politics and religion?" But now I get a quarter of the readers I used to....

2/02/2009 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the religious bent to the posts of late. However, they do not require comments/rebuttals.

Being a troll I have to lob an obligatory stinkbomb once in a while--sooooo,

I reach back into the stink bomb sack slung over my shoulder, grope around, and find nothing but a pinch of stinky dust. Empty. Oh well.

Peace be with you.

2/02/2009 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Regarding the numbers of people paying attention to a teaching, Mr. Castenada's oft-quoted teacher once said:

"At one time everybody knew that a hunter was the best of men. Now not everyone knows that, but there are a sufficient number who do. For instance, I know it, and someday you will. See what I mean?"

Not to compare apples and oranges, of course!

2/02/2009 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

I still visit your blog everyday, amigo! But sometimes I feel like you all are running far, far ahead of me... I am still working my way through 'Meditations on the Tarot' and you all have moved on to somebody named Balthasar! Ay caramba! But that's OK. Someday we'll all be together...

2/02/2009 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I haven't seen the light of day, let alone the moon at midday for the last week. I just spent a couple of hours trying desperately to catch up.

That's a great point on ID and something that has bothered me all along about it. I just couldn't articulate it. Why are we fighting on science's turf? They'll come to the edge soon enough -- if they are going to.

As far as comments -- aside from the people like me who just don't have time every day -- I think there is something intrinsically sacred about so much of the MoTT posts and now Balthasar that we tend to just absorb it.

I will say, I always appreciated a well-timed 'Amen' back in the day. I'll at least try to throw one in so you'll know we're here.

Any suggestions on raccoon-appropriate variation of Amen?

wv: galsess -- with a house full of women these days, I'm doing pretty much what the gals sez.

2/02/2009 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'When most spiritual types talk about eliminating the "ego," it always strikes me as just so much new age pneumababble. They don't know what they're talking about, because you can no more live without an ego than you can live without a brain. What we call the ego is simply your psychic "center of gravity" at any given moment'

Unless you know something that all the greatest sages of the world didn't know, you are very much off base here. The ego covers up the psychic being/soul; once the true soul is discovered, the utility of the ego is over. The psychic being has to emerge and "burn up the ego-knots" quite literally in what is often described as a "flame" of purification. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in particular explain this very clearly. Living in the psychic being / soul is totally different from living in the ego.

This is nothing short of a Titanic inner battle that no human being could ever win without the Divine Grace, which in the integral yoga context, is experienced as the Mahashakti, the Mother of all the worlds.

The ego-sense disappears completely when someone attains enlightenment. That's the ideal.

Annul thyself that only God may be. -- Sri Aurobindo

2/02/2009 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Here, this is good: elsewhere, Balthasar says that "Faith is the light of God becoming luminous in man," for in the end, "God is known only by God." So faith is the dark light with which God sees himself through us."

Working my way up from the ground floor with this, it seems similar, with me at least, as when a principle first becomes known, we tend to busily apply it everywhere, even sometimes where innapropriate, which further consideration and contemplation eventually makes plain. As the understanding of the principle sinks in, the concern with seeing that it is being applied correctly lessens, and you begin to recognize it operating all about you. There comes a point where you just know that it is there, it is beyond reproach, and those who attempt to attack or undermine it, are just silly - as a physicist might take little note of someones elaborate perpetual motion schemes, he has no need to see or refute their detailed plots, he knows it to be folly - the principle simply is, and no error or assault can even reach it.

That level of understanding doesn't come from memorization of formula and examples, but from understanding, from myriad integrations of the principle in action, it becomes 'visible' even when unlooked for.

As the above is found shimmering in the below, the light lifts you higher.

2/02/2009 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"The point is, the ID proponents are in a way as metaphysically hamhanded as those they would presume to defeat, because they are still conceding true theology to science, instead of developing a mode of perception adequate to the theological object. Once you accomplish the latter, then you realize that of course the cosmos manifests a deep intelligence and beautiful order on every level. How could it not? If intelligent people want to spend their lives proving that intelligence doesn't exist, let 'em go nuts, since they already are anyway."

Bingo.

2/02/2009 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"I *am* big! It's the *trolls* that got small."

Say no more.

wv:unkflot

That sounds sooo right.

2/02/2009 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I find it very.... bracing to independently discover and realize this or that transcendent truth, even (or especially!) when it's been discovered millions of times before by earlier pneumanauts.

I'm with you on that one. Even here, a big part of the appeal (for me, anyway) is not that you put your thoughts out there and we just nod and agree and leave it at that; rather, it's been a like catalyst that provides an impetus for my own exploration. And when I find that what I learn and experience matches up with something I read about in MoTT or Aurobindo or Perry or any of the others I've been "discovering" this past couple of years, I'm inspired to go deeper.

2/02/2009 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

wv:dowdle
hmmm
Like our troll said. It's easy to toss out posts in response to political stuff. This material needs to be absorbed. It often happens that something you write will make a light go on in my daily musing, but by that time we're off to another post, and the comment is no longer relevant to the topic of the day.
But, a question on dreams, and dreaming. What do you make of lucid dreams? And by that I mean- wait a minute- there are three kinds. Dreams that are breathtakingly vivid, surreal, and intense. Perhaps the one you described today is in that category. Or the dreams of similar intensity, but with the added feature of being consciously aware that you are in the dream, and as such, are able to participate in it.
Finally, I don't know if anyone else has had this experience. I call it the black dream. A nightmare of such intensity that you aren't even aware that it is a dream. Or worse, you are aware that you might be in the dream, but you cannot be sure, and you cannot escape (think Freddy Kruegar) The worst feature of the black dream is that it begins by waking up from a bad dream, and finding the reality worse than the nightmare. Then you wake up again. But you're still in the black dream only now you're sure you're awake. And then it really gets bad.
I've come out of black dreams, (phone rings, or my wife wakes up because I'm thrashing around or yelling) and needed to be reassured that I was awake. And even then it takes a while to be sure.
second wv:reruen (weird)

JWM

2/02/2009 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speaking of which, one of the reasons I still hesitate to join a formal organization (aside from the Raccoons) is that I would have a hard time with someone saying to me, "nope. Can't think that. This is the proper way." That may well be the case, but I still need to discover these truths independently, or they might never be realized in me. Or, put it this way: I find it very.... bracing to independently discover and realize this or that transcendent truth, even (or especially!) when it's been discovered millions of times before by earlier pneumanauts. On the other hand, I find it tedious to merely learn it. It's like the difference between reading about love vs. falling in love, or studying child development vs. having a child.

Ho! You've been cranking out the hits, Bob! And thanks for your coontributions, James!

2/02/2009 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Here, this is good: elsewhere, Balthasar says that "Faith is the light of God becoming luminous in man," for in the end, "God is known only by God." So faith is the dark light with which God sees himself through us.

Since Paul calls faith evidence, and it's not just evidence, it's the light of God as Balthasar says, AKA Truth...

Like any good detective, we follow the evidence; we see the evidence which is faith, and we realize, experience and actualize the evidence through evidence luminated by the Evidence within us.

Indeed, "According to Balthasar, faith is the theological act of perception."

That's how we gno the self evident truth's our Founding Fathers and mystics throughout the ages spoke about.

The evidence of the unseen, of things hoped for.
That is, as you say, Bob, how we enter the world of Balthasar, Unknown Friend, John, Thomas, Petey, etc..

This is like spiritual special forces training.

2/02/2009 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"This material needs to be absorbed.
Well said JWM. Yup, lovely texture, rich and densely flavored, with a great mouthfeel. Perhaps we're pausing while our palates adjust to a more delicate balance.

For me it goes in and then....? Not exactly rattling around in there, but some sort of sorting/ processing activity is going on (which I can sense) even tho no solid thoughts/connections coalesce right away. More like interior intermittent sparking, or something. Reach out a hand to grab it & it disappears. Days later I sometimes get a flash of connection between something in that day's post & other slightly soiled Bobservations, so off the sidebar listing I go to see something will gel around that flash.

"It often happens that something you write will make a light go on in my daily musing, but by that time we're off to another post, and the comment is no longer relevant to the topic of the day."

For some unknown reason a mixture of Hopscotch, Chinese Jump-rope & and a revolving catch-up game comes to mind.
Go figure.

2/03/2009 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob, you said,
“Actually, the more I write about religion, the less interest.”

I can’t see how many page hits, but I can tell you I am not “less interested”. Please continue, Bob. This is good work and I feel not only fortunate but very much look forward to be able to enter these spaces along with you. I’m so far ahead of where I would have been on my own. I am at my own edge so often, and then I am drawn out beyond it. When I read MOTT or Schuon or Sri and something clicks, or something brought out that was covered up within, I’m “with” them. Can feel their presence and it is almost as if they can see me. When I understand, I am in the same room, and what a room it is, and what company. So the last thing I would do is run my mouth.

I’m certain these posts continue to flow; open up other spaces in us and our work, at different times click down the road, or reading another sacred text. But I’m certain of their “working” long after you’re finished. Because I’ve seen the effects.

Now I’m running my mouth. But you can’t know unless I tell you.

Like Mushroom said,
“As far as comments -- aside from the people like me who just don't have time every day -- I think there is something intrinsically sacred about so much of the MoTT posts and now Balthasar that we tend to just absorb it.”

Amen. Sacred is it. A flowing, pure and delicate thing to not disturb.

2/03/2009 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

Ricky Raccoon,

Send me an e-mail sometime and I'll send you DeKoninck's Hollow Universe, which has as one of its essays "the Lifeless World of Biology".

It has an excellent account of why human intelligence will never be duplicated, nevermind surpassed, by machines, among many other reflections on science.

parsimonious.phil@gmail.com

2/03/2009 06:30:00 AM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

Absorbing, yes... best done in silence.

wv: focos (yeah, that too).

/Johan

2/03/2009 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Thanks, Phil. I’ll do that. I think you said at James’ place that it was 10mbs. Not sure my account accepts attachments of that size… talk to you soon.

2/03/2009 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

JWM;

There are what I call "epic dreams," which you know in your bones couldn't have come from yourself, and which need to be mined for their cosmic meaning. They are like the ingression of a higher dimensional object into our 4D world, so in that regard they are analogous to scripture, which is loaded with implications that can take a lifetime to unravel. Indeed, scripture is like the "common dream" of mankind about God -- or perhaps God about man.

There are also "black hole" dreams, in which it is possible to fall into an "empty attractor," so to speak, so that you can experience the complete presence of absence, or the Nameless Dread, analogous to a blank psychosis, or the Pure Terror of the Infinite Spaces.

2/03/2009 08:21:00 AM  

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