Miracles and Magic: Vertical Mojo and Horizontal Hoodoo
According to Tomberg, the seven miracles recorded in the Gospel of John "represent the healing of the seven principal infirmities of human nature in both individuals and groups." As such, they are "not just miracles," but "signs of the future spiritual and bodily healing processes within the human organism, which is sick as a consequence of the fall of humanity."
Joan made a truthy point when she commented that she had never gone in for "the whole 'seeking after miracles' obsession." However, like all Coons, she has "seen and experienced them," and while she doesn't "dwell on this topic as central to my faith," she observes that "you only get good results when you center on the Good. Center on the wanted results and you get bupkis."
[Hello] Dilys [wherever you are] expanded upon this, writing that the realm of the miraculous cannot function "without corruption outside of the protection of a Vertically-revealed tradition, and indeed can't be plucked cleanly out of the tradition to carry away for idiosyncratic power. As Joan says, miracles are often only semi-conscious side effects of a fervent consistent illuminated devotion to the Good, the willing citizenship in what Jesus calls the kingdom of God."
Three statements come immediately to mind: 1) The kingdom of God is within [or among] you, 2) Seek ye first the kingdom, and 3) from the Gospel of Thomas, The Father's kingdom is spread all over the world, but people cannot see it.
Another way of saying this is that there is an upper vertical magic and a lower vertical magic. This is indeed a key point, for now that I think about it, my life only became a more or less non-stop magic show when I ceased living for myself and undertook the task of aligning myself with a greater reality. This is not to in any way claim that my life is extraordinary. I am sure that to most people it would look rather boring. The point is, as several people pointed put yesterday, signs and wonders are happening all the time -- i.e., the Father's kingdom is spread all over the world -- but the interventions are so subtle that we may "underlook" them, so to speak. We may also fail to notice them because we only live in one reality, and cannot see that other impoverished reality that "might have been" in the absence of the vertical influence.
Of course, it's almost too corny to point out, but this is the spiritual lesson of It's a Wonderful Life, and why even many secular children of the earth cannot help being touched by it. Here is an example of a man who spends his life selflessly aligning himself with the universal on behalf of the individual, at great personal cost. However, in his case, he is shown what might have been had he spent his life pursuing the narrow agenda of his self-interested ego.
Another way of saying it is that George is granted the boon of a clear vision of all the miracles and magic that had occurred in his life as a result of unselfishly aligning himself with the Sovereign Good. And realizing this is the greatest miracle of all, for with this realization, the magic that had always been operating in his life bursts upon him like a sudden downpour of grace. What a tragic waste of life to miss the magic that is happening all the time, for this magic is precisely what nourishes the soul and feeds the "second birth."
The same lesson is present in Dickens' Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge is first given a vision of the forces that went into exiling him from the greater reality and enclosing him in the narrow world of his bitter and envious ego. Envy and entitlement are literally forms of "reverse magic," in that they will spoil whatever they acquire. Envy may or may not help you get what you think you want, but it will also prevent you from enjoying it once you have it.
This lower vertical magic forms the basis of the leftist agenda, which is why they only become more bitter upon getting what they want. The bitterness of the left has not remitted one iota since prevailing in last November's election, because envy is an addictive way of life for them. Try listening to Randi Rhodes for five seconds. In the words of the immortal Big Joe Turner, "I believe to my soul you a devil in nylon hose." Or possibIy the great Junior Brown: "she's just venom wearin' denim, she's a copperheaded queen." I once heard Alan Watts refer to seagulls as "winged hunger." Dailykos must be "digital envy."
This is why the civil rights movement only became a perpetually angry and bitter crusade once it achieved its main goals and should have closed up shop. Indeed, this is how a moral giant such as Martin Luther King transmogrifies before our eyes into grotesque lower vertical beings such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Jeremiah Wright. Likewise, it explains how the feminist movement began cranking out creepy hybrid femen such as Hillary Clinton or Gloria Allred or Maureen Dowd after it was no longer necessary. And it surely explains the moral monsters of CAIR, a group that is completely unnecessary except to advance a truly diabolical lower vertical agenda. But all of these diverse beings have "common cause" in aligning themselves with the false universal of "coerced" or "Faustian magic."
According to Frithof Schuon, a miracle represents "an interference of the marvellous in the sensory realm." In itself, there is "nothing mysterious or problematical about it." In fact, if you consider the metaphysical structure of reality, miracles cannot not occur, since the vertical cannot not be, and the vertical takes ontological precedence over the horizontal (i.e., the vertical could never have come from the horizontal). In hermetic terms, the subtle rules the dense, and the the deeper the effect, the higher the cause. The highest cause being God, aligning ourselves with this cause should, so to speak, lift us out of the closed circle of horizontality and manifest in our own lives in terms of the "subtle ruling the dense."
Now, this is not to say that the dense -- the horizontal -- can be ever be wholly eliminated. We are not angels, which is to say, purely vertical beings. But it does mean that we can do our part to reverse the fall and restore the priority of the vertical over the horizontal. Obviously, if everyone did this -- individuals working on behalf of the universal -- we would have "heaven on earth." On the other hand, "hell on earth" is the leftist agenda of the individual being forced to work on behalf of the (false) universal. What is today, only March 29th? Most of us are still slaving away for the collective, as tax freedom day does not occur until some point in late April, when we have worked off our debt to the collective. But at least we are not Sweden, where the shackles aren't released until August.
Now, as Schuon points out, a miracle is only "supernatural" on the earthly scale, but "natural" on the cosmic scale. Furthermore, "the purpose of the miraculous phenomenon is the same as that of the Revelation which it accompanies or as a result of which, or in the shadow of which, it is produced: to elicit or to confirm faith." There are two central miracles, one "supernaturally natural," the other "naturally supernatural." Existence itself is a supernaturally natural lesson, what with its gratuitous truth and beauty coursing through its every artery as a result of being infused with the manifestly transnatural logos.
This is why the first miracle recorded in Genesis is the archetype of all others, for as our Unknown Friend says, creation ex nihilo, or out of nothing, "is the highest possible expression of magic, namely divine and cosmic magic." This is why the primordial act of creation was not so much a bang as a blossoming seed. As he says, this is "not too difficult to imagine, because each little acorn is such a 'constructive bomb' and the oak is only the visible result of the slow 'explosion' -- or blossoming out -- of this 'bomb.'" What is a butterfly but an exploded caterpillar -- or in our case, a buddhafly catarpultering out of a christalis c-coon?
Schuon points out that "the miraculous is that which is due to a direct, thus vertical intervention of a heavenly Power, and not to a horizontal progression of causality. If one extends the notion of 'nature' to all that exists, miracles too are 'natural,' but in that case words would become meaningless, as it would then be impossible to make the essential distinction between blind or unconscious causes and the supra-conscious Cause, the source of all consciousness and of all power. Scientists confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary" (emphasis mine).
A couple of days ago we spoke of the "husk" and "kernel." The husk is there to protect the kernel, but it is possible that we can come to identify with the husk, thus defeating its purpose -- and the purpose of our lives -- by arresting the "blossoming explosion" of our true self. This blossoming -- once you begin to experience it -- is the "personal magic" that mirrors the magic of creation itsoph -- of God's unfolding, creative self-revelation. The kernel, since it is internally related to the whole, seems miraculously able to draw the people and materials it requires in order to fulfill its mission. Or as a rabbinical expression puts it, "God spends most of his time arranging meetings and marriages."
But again, this blossoming cannot be "self-willed" any more than you can will a carrot to grow, for "God gives the increase." All organic growth -- which is to say internally related change directed toward a telos -- is magic. It is the everyday magic of watching an infant change from day to day, or even of writing this blog, if I may say so. For me -- especially for me -- I am always aware that this activity is miraculous when viewed in light of the alternative Bobs I might have become and narrowly averted. "There but for the grace of God," and all that. It's a wonderful life, but only if we stop to consider the alternatives.
[And for those of you who are truly motivated, here is part 2. It's more for my benefit than yours, because I use these weekly raids on the Arkive in order to find out what's down there in that spooky place. I would still like to find the time to put together another book, which I can't do if I don't somehow get a handle on what I've already written.]
Humans may be assessed in terms of action, wisdom, and sentiment; or what they can do, what they can know, and what or whom they love (i.e., moral freedom). "Miracles" -- which is to say "signs and wonders" -- can occur on any one of these planes, although Christianity traditionally places emphasis on the last. As Paul said, there who those value wisdom and those who demand miraculous actions, "but we preach Christ crucified," which is to say the mystery of God's ultimate love for mankind.
Nevertheless, as I have written before, whatever principial truth a religion excludes or minimizes tends to return in a disguised form. Therefore, we should not be surprised that at different points, Christianity is as much a religion of divine wisdom and power as it is of love. But each must always be tempered by the others -- wisdom without love or action is merely intellectualism or solipsism, just as action without love or wisdom results either in a centripetal dispersion or a "hardening" will to power.
As Valentin Tomberg writes, love is the highest freedom, for "it is the sole element in human existence that cannot and may not be demanded. One can demand effort, veracity, honesty, obedience, the fulfillment of duties, but love may never be demanded. Love is and remains for all time a sanctuary of freedom, inaccessible to all compulsion. For this reason, the highest commandment -- 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind... and love your neighbor as yourself' -- is not a command, but a divine-human plea. For love cannot be commanded; it can only be prayed for."
This is also the American secret, for it is the one nation that is founded upon the primacy of spiritual liberty, which is to say, the possibility of genuine vertical (godly) and horizontal (neighborly) love. Just as man was not created for the sabbath but the sabbath for man, American citizens are not here to serve the state, but the state is here to nurture spiritual liberty that we may grow in love, wisdom, and compassionate action -- or goodness, truth, and beauty. At least until Obama got here.
Tomberg points out that the Gospels may be thought of as "holographic" (my word), in the sense that the events described therein are simultaneously signs, signs are teachings, teachings are events, events are parables, etc. Everything in the Gospels is at once "fact, miracle, symbol, and revelation of the truth."
There are only seven miracles described in the Gospel of John, beginning with the transformation of water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and ending with the raising of Lazarus. However, the conclusion of John points out that if every miracle attributable to Christ were to be recorded, "the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.'" Therefore, Tomberg suggests that the seven miracles of John are intended to be "archetypal," or to summarize certain categories of the miraculous -- of how humans, unlike any other beings in existence, may surpass themselves in love, wisdom, and action.
Might there also be an implicit parallel between these seven miracles and the seven primordial acts of God described in Genesis 1-2? Yes, at least according to Tomberg, who feels that there is an inverse relationship between the seven phases of creation in Genesis and the seven miracles of John. Thus, for example, the wedding at Cana somehow mirrors the seventh day of creation.
Tomberg writes that the sabbath is the day on which "created being attains the highest level of inwardness: freedom. The seventh day of creation is the 'day' of the meaning of the world." And since it is only in love that freedom is perfect, ultimately divine-human love "is the foundation, the meaning, and the purpose of the world." Real love is both the alpha and omega of existence.
If the sabbath is also the consecration of the free "union" between God and man, then a sort of "divorce" occurred as a result of the fall. Man was unfaithful to his vows, so to speak. Tomberg writes that the wedding at Cana symbolically speaks to the restoration of this union, for it seems that marriage often "begins with enthusiasm, with the 'wine' of the honeymoon period, and ends with the 'water' of routine habit."
The renewal of love is indeed a miracle, even though we rarely think about it in those terms. To put it another way, only love can renew the world, one's being, and one's wedding vows. At the wedding, Jesus not only transforms water into wine, but the second wine is even better than the first. In other words, not only does love not degenerate, but it is miraculously renewed and increased; as such, this miracle is the "sign" of the healing of marriage -- i.e., "healing in the service of restoring the marriage relationship to correspond to the divine cosmic archetype, which is the seventh day of creation."
Is it important that John 2:1 says that the wedding took place "on the third day?" Why is that seemingly random fact inserted at the outset? And when they run out of wine, it is specifically Jesus' mother who brings this message to her son. Interestingly, Jesus says something very strange, in that he immediately interprets Mary's news about the wine in symbolic terms, asking her, "what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
Thus -- I am hardly a Biblical scholar, so I don't know if I'm pointing out the obvious here -- the wedding on the third day clearly has resonance with the entire mission of Jesus, in which he will restore the marriage between God and man.
And again, strikingly, there are exactly six waterpots, apparently referencing the other six days of creation and the other six miracles.
Skipping ahead a bit, wine once again comes into play when Jesus' "hour has come." In John 19:28, only after he knows that "all things were accomplished," he says "I thirst." He is given some sour -- which is to say, bad -- wine, which is placed to his mouth. After receiving it, he bows his head and says, "it is finished."
What is finished? One of the soldiers pierces his side, and "blood and water come out." At Cana, water is transformed into good wine. Here, as it were, bad and sour wine -- which is to say, the hateful karma of the world -- is transformed into water and blood. In the Bible -- and in antiquity in general -- "blood" always had spiritual connotations, and was regarded as the vehicle of life, while water carries two distinct meanings.
Back to Genesis 1. On the second day of creation, God separates the upper waters -- the waters above the firmament, or heaven -- from the lower waters. In fact, heaven is placed between the upper and lower waters, as a sort of dividing line. As such -- again, curiously -- heaven is not at the "top" of creation, but is a sort of membrane between upper and lower, or superior and inferior, waters.
But clearly, Jesus seems to be able to mediate between the upper and lower waters -- to bring about their harmonious union, in which the lower is transformed into the higher, and the higher descends into and infuses the lower.
Exacly what is the sacrament of marriage? It "is an inseparable bond between a man and a woman, created by human contract and ratified by divine grace. The nature of the covenant requires that the two participants be one man and one woman" and "that they be free to marry." In the Catholic Church, "it is consent that creates marriage. Consent consists in a human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other. Consent must be a free act of the will of the consenting parties, free of coercion or grave external error. If freedom is lacking, the consent is invalid." Interestingly, "it is the spouses who are understood to confer marriage on each other. The spouses, as ministers of grace, naturally confer upon each other the sacrament of matrimony."
Now, back to the union of God and man. Let's think about some of the constiuent components of marriage: freedom to consent to an inseparable bond, absent any coercion; mutual surrender; male (God) and female (the soul); the parties freely choose to confer marriage upon each other, not one upon the other; and the parties become vehicles of grace for one another, through which the regenerative upper waters flow into the world, transforming water into good wine and sour wine into the upper waters of eternal life and love.
Well, that's about the best I can muster today. Bit of an incoherent mess, no? Frankly, it's surprising it doesn't happen more often. But perhaps I've left enough fragments for others to meditate upon and miraculously pull together. To turn water into wine, so to speak.