Wednesday, June 03, 2009

God's Eternal Calculus

Why? Why this way? By virtue of what principle?

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.

13 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

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?

Good questions.

Or, it's like evolution become conscious of itself.

Is not the "return trip" made with eyes wide open? How could it be otherwise?

6/03/2009 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Questioned:

"Is the Christian theo-drama superimposed on...abstract principles? Or is it the "thing itself," about which it is improper to look for abstract principles?"

I wouldn't say it is improper to look for abstract principes so much as it is not a good use of one's time.

Once awakened from immersion from the drama, you are no longer just an actor, you are now audience as well. You can see it from a remove, so to speak.

Once this awakening is a done deal, one must move to the "military service" model.

Once you have the perspective on the drama you must simply stop where you are and listen, look, listen, for what your next move should be. You can't go on pretending there are 'abstract principles' at work here. There are no abstract principles. There is only the Master and yourself, and ultimately you are combined.

You must "report for Karmic duty," as you put it.

The chief difficulty is discharging your duty correctly. Love should be the guiding principle, which is like a 'standing order' or template to start with.

6/03/2009 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

In order to keep Love first, you must place Truth first.
In other words, in order to feed my family, I need to get back to work. Now.
- Rick@work

PS Great post Bob.
Scipio wants his title back.
I added that part. It’s not true.
:-)

6/03/2009 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Well, I'd say that stepping outside the Drama, courtesy the distancing of self-awareness, is a graduation. Then it's on to the Advanced Studies of Theo-Drama. And so on and so on, forever and a day.

I think that if our advance toward God is an eternal process, then the Drama never really ends. Here on this earth, in this general millennial timeframe, the spiritual process is that of Innocence/Unconscious Wholeness ->Loss of Innocence/Alienation -> Redemption In Self-Consciousness/Return to Wholeness. Fulfillment of the last phase collapses the Drama; its purpose has been served. I think, however, that the process is then replicated at a higher level and we enter a brave new Drama as Innocents.

Of course, it will take many more millennia (as we now count linear time) for us to discover in just what manner we were innocents back when we graduated from the first School of Theo-Drama.

6/03/2009 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"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?"

Or the theo-drama is the "thing itself", and abstract principles are our way of deiscribing it, they illuminate for us stage directions and commentary which help us to join in and better act our part in the play?

Abstract principles drawn from observing the drama aren't the problem, abstract principles drawn as modern art, with no reference to reality, contradicting what is good, beautiful and true, in place of observations about reality - that's a problem.

I suppose what you observe to be abstract principles, depend on whether you think the play is a theo-drama with a classical Author, plot and theme... or mere sound and fury, signifying nothing to be shuffled through while waiting for godot.

6/03/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

This just in…

OT, but not really, if we are still talking about the Big Drama:

Congressman wants Navy shipbuilding plan, now

“Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee, is not pleased that when the Obama Administration produced the FY 2010 defense budget it was not accompanied by a 30 year shipbuilding plan...

In a statement on May 22 he noted that "Title 10, Chapter 9, Section 231 U.S.C. specifically mandated that the Secretary of Defense include with the defense budget a 30-year shipbuilding plan for the Navy and a certification that 'both the budget for that fiscal year and the future-years defense program' would be sufficient to meet the plan. If the budget could not meet the plan, the Secretary is required by statute to describe and discuss 'the risks associated with the reduced force structure of naval vessels that will result' The Secretary submitted none of this information with his budget."

“At a time when China is rapidly closing the 23-ship gap between their navy and ours, and at a time when our Navy is operating with $4.6 billion in unmet requirements," said Rep. Forbes in a statement issued today, "Americans would be shocked to know that the Department of Defense cannot or will not produce a key plan for the future of our naval fleet."”

Hmmmm… maybe that is the plan…

6/03/2009 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

So many questions in this post.

Think like The Father, and you would have much of them answered, and a sword.

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

Oh Baldy, you forget, he has a name. Were you not diligent with the word?

If you remember how David first knocked Goliath out and then slew him, you could do the same with the new abstract Goliath.

6/03/2009 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think he's talking about the "nothing" Jesus had to become on the cross in order to be the new beginning.

6/03/2009 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

I should point out the new Goliath is Mohammad (Peanut Butter Upon Him).
He held the second sword.

6/03/2009 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

To me, Jesus on the cross is a manyfold symbol.
One being a representation of the spiritual state of Israel at the time.
Much like the spiritual state of the Christian denominations of today. The body is there but the spirit, or light has gone out.

I could be wrong though. It helps when everyone in the comments ways in tho.
Like the spirit coming together.

6/03/2009 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"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?"

Doesn't abstract principles set the stage? I believe that's also what Van is alluding to (correct me if I'm wrong, Van).

Abstract principles are an integral part of the theo-drama, IMO. Like the "boundaries" a musician must adhere to in order to create (and/or sing/play) a great song.

Neither the musician (nor the actor) wants to sing or act off key, for example. The key bein' one of the abstract principles in theo-drama and theo-music (or soundtrack of the theo-drama. Available now on OMazon!).

Or am I waaayyyy off base here? Be honest now, I'm due onstage...well, right now!

Dougman-
"To me, Jesus on the cross is a manyfold symbol.
One being a representation of the spiritual state of Israel at the time.
Much like the spiritual state of the Christian denominations of today. The body is there but the spirit, or light has gone out."

Well, I'n not so sure the dimming light of most Christian Churches
representsa Christ on the cross, but rather the state of those Christians who have led so many astray and Christians who have chosen to be like Christ in name only (CINO's).

However, there is ALWAYS a remnant, and I do believe the remnany represents Christ on the cross. There are still martyrs bein' imprisoned, tortured and murdered in todays world.
And not only martyrs but individuals who are slacking their hearts out to cultivate and show the light of Christ or God.

I could go on, because that is an interesting idea, Dougman, but I gotta walk the dogs.

6/03/2009 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ben said "Doesn't abstract principles set the stage?"

They help us see the stage and understand that it has been set.

Probably a good point to note, that when you view a good drama, you will not see any abstract principles, nothing visibly marked 'Plot' or 'Theme' or 'Script', during the drama, though if you grasp those principles, you will know that they are there. Those abstract principles are just what we discern in good drama. They are formed from what it and they enable us to better perceive and understand in the drama. It is One. And while they don't literally exist in it, they are not artificial.

When the Author conceived the theme and plot, with them he produced the script, but neither of them can be found in the drama, save through those abstract principles which allow us to divine them.

And when the players perform the drama, if they have learned their lines, and understand the theme and plot, they are free to bring the drama to life, and in doing so they all participate in that part of the authors mind which created it, they embody the script and theme and plot, but even so, while watching them perform, seeing their actions, neither they, nor the other three are separable from the drama, it just IS... and by learning and applying abstract principles, the players and the audience are able to discern them and apply them in better understanding, appreciating and/or performing the play.

They are not any less valuable or ennobling for lacking physical and separate existence, not as long as they are true principles. On the contrary, because they don't exist in that way, they enable you to enter into the mind of the author, and to better understand the drama and yourself and your place in the wider drama.

Just gotta remember that their value is in recognizing them and applying them, not just listing them.

6/04/2009 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks, Van!

Good answer. Makes sense to me, and answers some questions to boot. :^)

6/05/2009 11:02:00 PM  

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