God's Eternal Calculus
These are questions I constantly ask myself in contemplating the theo-drama. There is a big part of me that cannot fully participate in the drama in its particulars, because this part of me is looking for the abstract or universal principles embodied in it. It's something of a catch 22, because the moment you start to contemplate the deeper theme of a work of art, you are no longer in it, so to speak. Rather, you're lifted above it and considering it from the outside.
A truly great work of art will operate seamlessly on both levels. I'd cite Shakespeare, but I'd be a fake here. Instead, let's pick something more my speed, say, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This film works as pure entertainment, but also as an allegory of the confrontation between the messiah and the establishment. In the end, the messiah (McMurphy) is crucified by the establishment (Nurse Rached), but his death is converted to new life by Big Chief, who internalizes McMurphy's essence and escapes from the bughouse.
Vis-s-vis the Christian theo-drama, here's the problem I have: the moment you see it as a drama, you have "ironized" it. You have placed a kind of distance between you and it. The premodern world didn't have this distance. Rather, they were able to immerse themselves in the drama, without ever knowing they were in one.
It reminds me of how Future Leader is able to immerse himself in, say, Peter Pan, without having any idea that it is really a fable about a girl on the cusp of puberty who is deeply ambivalent about having to leave the magical world of childhood behind. Yes, it works on both levels, but the "point" of the plot is the theme, not vice versa.
It seems to me that this is a real problem in the postmodern world; specifically, how can we lose ourselves in a drama we know to be one? Or, to turn it around, once we start analyzing the drama, are we no longer fully a part of it?
Now, I definitely feel as if I am in a drama, except I call it the cosmo-drama. The drama has been going on for as long as I can remember. You might also call it The Inward Adventure. I can only write from personal experience and describe how it feels from the inside, which is what I attempted to do in Chapter 4 of my book. That chapter might seem abstract, but it is actually my attempt to distill what seem to me to be the "general principles" beneath the cosmo-drama.
I really only have one measure of my life, and it is the day-to-deity "progress" I make in the cosmo-drama. There is no question whatsoever that it involves a kind of "movement." But what is "moving?" And what is it moving toward? And what is the medium in which it moves? If you are a Christian, I suppose you'd say that the soul is moving toward God within the medium of consciousness. But in order to avoid the problem of cognitive saturation, I reduce it to (¶) being pulled into the Great Attractor of O.
Aurobindo said something to the effect that there is a soul within and a Grace above, and this is all you know or need to know. I think that to surrender to this dynamic reality is the essence of religiosity, i.e., what you might call the "theo-metabolism" of (↓↑). This process is real, as real as cellular metabolism. There's just no question about it.
Speaking of which, I can't tell you how many times I've placed the symbol (↓↑) in the margins of the Theo-Drama. Let's see if I can find some good examples.
Here's a passage that speaks to the dynamic of (¶) and O. Balthasar states that one of his constant themes is "the relationship between earth (man's 'place') and heaven (God's 'place')," and that "the world has a teleology, a destination in God; mankind and its history is moving toward that great 'harvest,'" in which we slough off everything that is unworthy of eternity -- or it is cast into the fire. He quotes Suso, who wrote that "the spark of the soul... does not rest until it returns to the divine Ground whence it came and where it was in its uncreated state."
Here is another passage that illuminates the (↓↑): "Heaven and earth are there for one another; their original distance and abiding distinctness from one another has been established in order that they can approach one another" (emphasis his).
Here's a good one: "Man wants to soar up, but the Word wants to descend. Thus will the two meet half-way...." Both arrows are actually a single process, as "the going forth is no less unconditional than the return.... And perhaps the going forth from God is still more divine than the return home, since the greatest thing is not for us to know God and reflect this knowledge back to him as if we were gleaming mirrors, but for us to proclaim God as burning torches proclaim the light." You know, to be bright fleshlights, lumen beings, just His lux.
God's going out is his eternal return. Here is Balthasar imagining Christ's inner dialogue: "What flows down into me vertically from you, my Source, this I have spread far and wide horizontally over the earth's expanse. And what was our eternal life, shared by both of us horizontally, up above in the circle of eternity, this I have brought down vertically to the very depths of the earth."
This is from man's point of view: "This Now when our two names have met is my birthday in eternity, and no time shall ever erase this Now.... Here is creation and a new beginning.... The rigid envelope which enclosed me from the outside and preserved my emptiness now shatters to fragments..."
Why yes, congratulations on the equation of your cosmic birth! You haven't perceived the hologram to to your private particle? Come in, open his Presence, and report for karmic duty. Ho!
Again, the question I admittedly can't help asking myself is, is the Christian theo-drama superimposed on these more abstract principles? Or is it the "thing itself," about which it is improper to look for abstract principles?
In a way, this mirrors the advance of science, which could not take place until human beings were capable of looking at the world abstractly. You could say that the most momentous leap of consciousness occurred when one of our furbears noticed with astoneagement that two rocks and two sticks reduced to this abstract thing called "two." After that it was off to the human race.
Or, it's like evolution become conscious of itself. For billions of years, the cosmos evolved all by itself. But now that human beings are aware of the drama of evolution, doesn't that mean that we are no longer fully in it? This is why I insist that either evolution explains man, or man explains evolution. If it explains us, then that reduces to a tautology: evolution explains evolution. You can leave man out of the equation.
Or can you?
Is it the end? Nothing that ends is any longer there. Is it the beginning? The beginning of what? In the beginning was the Word. What kind of word? What incomprensible, formless, meaningless word? But look: What is this light glimmer that wavers and begins to take form in the endless void? A nameless thing, more solitary than God, it emerges out of pure emptiness. It is no one. It is anterior to everything. Is it the beginning? --Balthasar
Well? I think it must be something like the absurcular process outlined in my book: Take us before & beyond this womentary maninfesation, reveal not the horizontal but our inmost upmost vertical bigending.