Friday, July 24, 2009

On Being Shattered, Battered, Scattered, and Made Whole

Ted raised a valid point in cautioning me against disparaging or dismissing Buddhism, which I am not trying to do. It is entirely true that earlier forms of Theravada Buddhism were more purely focussed on escape from one's own suffering, whereas the later Mahayana schools developed the bodhisattva principle, whereby the liberated soul forgoes nirvana until every being is released from suffering. Then he just shuts the door behind him.

But of course, that begs the question of whether the bodhisattva is simply reinventing the wheel of karma, in light of Christ's accomplishment -- that is, if it was truly universal. Looked at in this manner, the bodhisattva is simply participating in the metacosmic "mind of Christ," even if he doesn't call it that. You know what Toots Mondello said in his Wise Sayings and Cracks: "I have other Coons, who are not of this den."

In any event, I am not attempting to disparage Buddhism by looking at the possibility of a higher synthesis of natural and supernatural religions, any more than I am disparaging Christianity by pointing out that it can learn (or at least rediscover) something from Taoism or Vedanta. We'll get more into this as we go along, but it is apparently very difficult for man to hold "totality" in his head, so to speak. What inevitably happens is something like Hegel's dialectic, through which people elevate this or that part to the whole. Then that part generates its own antithesis, or "missing part." That part is then regarded as the new whole, and so on.

Using the example of Buddhism above, we can see that it initially focussed too heavily on a pessimistic rejection of the world. Thus, this partial truth dialectically generated the complementary truth of Mahayana.

I believe the same thing has occurred in Christianity, again, because of the apparent difficulty of holding the "fullness of truth" in one's head. Thus -- this is just my view, so you certainly don't have to agree with me -- the overemphasis on dogma and scholasticism in medieval Catholicism generated the Protestant lurch into a more personal and unmediated experience of God.

Yes, I fully understand that the Protestants did not "discover" anything new, the proof of which is in the highly personal and existential writings of a Meister Eckhart or St. John of the Cross.

Nevertheless, I think I understand the rebellious Spirit that is almost automatically provoked when someone tells me what I can and cannot experience of God and how I am permitted to do so. In a certain way, the "mystic" is always a threat to the "establishment" -- also proved by an Eckhart or Maximus -- and by Jesus himself, quintessentially!

Really, it goes back to something much more primordial, something that I believe is woven into the very fabric of the cosmos, and that would be Bion's ♀ and ♂, which are the empty symbols he used for the eternal dynamic of container and contained -- which in turn generate so many fundamental antinomies, e.g., form-substance, absolute-infinite, point-line, space-time, male-female, etc. (Do not confuse ♀ and ♂ with mother and father, although, looked at in another way, feel free to do so.)

We might as well face the fact that we can never contain God, not in any human words, any institution, or any person, no matter how "realized." Rather, God -- the ultimate ♂ -- will always shatter whatever you attempt to contain him with.

Does this mean that all containers (♀) are equal? Hardly! For one thing, if that were the case, I would have nothing to blog about, and the Catholic church would be no better than Obama's Trinity United Church of Race Baiting Cop Haters. What it means is that the "human project," so to speak, involves the impossible task of developing a ♀ that is equal to God's ♂. We know it's impossible up front. So why bother?

This is again like asking why we produce art, i.e., divine beauty, or why we want to be virtuous, which is to reflect the sovereign good in the herebelow. I don't think we can not attempt do these things, unless we have become somehow deranged -- which, of course, a lot of people are. Nevertheless, try as we might, "there is no one good but the One."

Now, I am sympathetic to the view that the Catholic church is God's own "authorized ♀," so to speak. Nevertheless, I don't think it is fruitful to look at this in a static way, as if everything is decided in advance, and it is only for us to assent.

Indeed, you might say that there is an ideal church -- a nonlocal or celestial ♀ for God's ♂, so to speak -- and that the best the earthly church can do is try to "imitate" it. This is how we can have equally lofty saints and doctors who continue to disagree over doctrine. Again, no one person can contain -- or be a ♀ -- for the whole. Can't happen.

You might even say that Mary -- and only Mary -- was able to be ♀ for ♂. The church can imitate Mary in endeavoring to give birth to the Word, but can never duplicate her feat. There is only one theokotos, or Mother of God.

And yet, we are all called upon to be that womb with a pew, so that we too can "give birth to the Word." We must all be Mary, which is to say, a little ♀ for God -- a fertile egghead for the free-ranging Spirit.

Some of us are cups, others are buckets. Some, like Deepak, have only a crock. But in any event, in view of the fact that God is the Ocean, this should be cause for humility. Nevertheless, a bucket of Maximus is obviously better than a crock of Chopra.

It seems to me that we are again dealing with the earthly instantiation of a metacosmic principle, what we might call the "eternal birth" of ♂ out of ♀. It is eternal, because it is the paradox of the all-containing giving birth to the uncontainable -- an irresistible force and immovable object. Thus, reality is their "divine play," so to speak, an eternal game of bride and speak. Just when you think you've contained the Word -- oops! -- another post. It never ends.

And if I am on the light track, this would seem to lead into the heart of the trinitarian mystery, which is the ultimate case of something that can be thought about but never contained, since it is the container. Making maters (and paters) more complicated, it is not a "static" container, but a dynamic one. But perhaps it is dynamic because it is fundamentally ♀ and ♂, who are together always giving birth to.... to what?

To everything, among other non-things. However, I can understand why Christianity would refer to these as "Father" and "Son," since it is probably important to desexualize ♀ and ♂, and not confuse them with human sexual generation, which is what most pagan religions tend to do.

That is, pagan mythologies see the cosmos as a result of a sexual act between the gods, which is specifically avoided in the Judeo-Christian tradition, in which God creates the world out of nothing, with no hanky panky at all.

Much of this is discussed in a meta-mythological, trans-linguistic, and orthoparadoxical manner in pp. 9-17 of my book. Yes, I hate to be so annoying with the so-called wordplay, but I'm not just trying to be a pomographic text fiend.

Rather, if I am in the right light, then the dynamic rapport of ♀ and ♂ is a kind of wordplay, if you will. After all, it generates a paradoxical Word that we cannot wrap our minds around, try as we might. It is what created this wholly matterimany in which we live and have our being.

And you will gnotice how often the playful Word Himsoph played with language in such a way that it could never be "contained" by all of the future would-be scribes and pharisees. After all, he could have left an unambiguous "to do" list for humans, couldn't he? Instead, he largely spoke in the form of parable, symbolism, metaphor, and allegory -- all modes which require our own participation to realize their truth. In other words, they are not simple containers of information, i.e., ♀.

Rather, in an odd way, they are always highly provocative and "disturbing" ♂s that require our own ♀ to com-prehend, i.e., we must make the effort to wrap ourselves around his rap (even as it wraps around us).

But then it shatters our ♀ again! And again. And again. It's hopeless. And therein lies our hope. For in being shattered and deprived of merely human meaning, we are resurrected and part-icipate in ultimate meaning.

14 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"Thus, reality is their "divine play," so to speak, an eternal game of bride and speak. Just when you think you've contained the Word -- oops! -- another post. It never ends."

Snort!

"... but I'm not just trying to be a pomographic text fiend."

Lol.

"This is again like asking why we produce art, i.e., divine beauty, or why we want to be virtuous, which is to reflect the sovereign good in the herebelow. I don't think we can not attempt do these things, unless we have become somehow deranged -- which, of course, a lot of people are. Nevertheless, try as we might, "there is no one good but the One." "

Knowing that there is but one One, and that you are not never going to contain the entire All within your small part... shouldn't that free you from worrying about not being able to?

Why should knowing that you'll never be perfectly good, stop you from trying to be as good as you can? Is some good somehow less worthwhile than NO good?

Imagine not speaking, for fear of leaving something unsaid? Not creating anything of beauty because it wouldn't be the ultimate 'answer' in beauty? Not seeking to be good, because we might come up short of being perfectly, flawlessly good?

... Then again, that IS what results from the quantitive assault on Quality, isn't it? Don't try to be virtuous, all virtuous people have flaws and are hypocrites... just go ahead and authentically revel in pure physicality, don't bother attempting anything higher... what are you... nutz?

Deranged indeed.

7/24/2009 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(looks around...)

Sooo... where's Buddy Holly?

7/24/2009 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Paula Cole said...

Where have all the cowboys gone?

7/24/2009 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been wondering, where did Julie go?

7/24/2009 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just read a good quote about Jesus by Maximus that illustrates today's post:

"Here we are amazed at how finitude and infinity... can be identified in him and can mutually reveal each other. The unlimited [i.e., contained] is circumscribed by limits [i.e., container] in an ineffable way, while the limited unfolds, beyond its own nature, to meet the measure of eternity."

7/24/2009 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"...mutually reveal each other..."

And the attempt to exclude one, distorts the other...

'♫♪...This I tell you, brother, you can’t have one without the Other...♫♪'

7/24/2009 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Bob, thanks for your response. I really appreciate your blog and you're challenging me in a lot of areas (not to mention my political leanings :-). As far as Wilber is concerned, don't throw the baby out the bath water. He's done some excellent work. And he's always praised your book. {Not that you would be pursuaded to change your opinion just by having your ego stroked :).

7/24/2009 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Olson said...

The Father reveals the Son. The Son reveals the Father.

"...and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Mat 11:27)

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44)

... in an ineffable way, indeed.

7/24/2009 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"...while the limited unfolds, beyond its own nature, to meet the measure of eternity." This is intriguing. Where is NoMo with a scripture verse? Has Julie been MIA a long while? Bob, your symbols (container and contained) make it very clear. Not long ago, I heard someone compare the "container" to a soda can and the "contained" to an ocean.

7/24/2009 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I might differ somewhat on the "Ye shall be as gods" issue, though (previous post? can't remember). My DH was just musing this afternoon that, even after shuffling off this mortal coil, there will still be an eternity of joyous pressing into God stretching out before us. I think he's right about that.

7/24/2009 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

OT, but...whew! Tell me again how Republicans are the big meanies who don't want grandma to have basic health care? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w4f04zrF2s (This is a must-listen.)

7/24/2009 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous lurker uncloaking said...

“Some of us are cups, others are buckets. Some, like Deepak, have only a crock. But in any event, in view of the fact that God is the Ocean, this should be cause for humility. Nevertheless, a bucket of Maximus is obviously better than a crock of Chopra.”

Am I a crackpot or a crockpot? Or………… just a mug aspiring to be a (Ben)Stein?

7/25/2009 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Susannah-

Julie is taking an extended sabbatical from commenting. She is still posting at her blog, however.

7/25/2009 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

After all, he could have left an unambiguous "to do" list for humans, couldn't he? Instead, he largely spoke in the form of parable, symbolism, metaphor, and allegory -- all modes which require our own participation to realize their truth. In other words, they are not simple containers of information, i.e., ♀."

Aye! Instead of "to do" lists He provided a Way "to Be," which ain't a question anymore for Raccoons (TW: Shakespear).

Or, in Buddha-speak it may be Buddha-be more than Buddha-do, or both: Buddha-be Buddha-do.

"Be" being first n' foremost Ostablished before doin' the "do."
:^)

Excellent post, Bob!

7/25/2009 12:30:00 PM  

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