On Touching God
I don't know if we need to dwell too long on Maximus' apophaticism, because this is something the average 'Coon already understands so well. He sounds very much like Schuon when he points out that God's "immanent name" is Being, while his "transcendent name" -- which, of course, can only be unSaid -- is Not-being (Schuon would say beyond being). The latter is a kind of "ray of darkness," not because of the absence of light, but because of the surfeit. It's too much light for us to see, so it can look like darkness until one's I adapts.
Put another way, we can know of God's existence but not his essence. And we know his existence by his energies, energies that we know could not have arisen from "nature."
Maximus writes that "as a consequence of his existence beyond being, he is more properly spoken of in terms of not-being." I don't know about you, but since human beings are in the image of the creator, I think of this in the same way I think of another human being.
That is, no matter how close you get to another human being, they nevertheless remain completely inaccessible in terms of a first hand knowledge of their essence. Rather, all you can know of them is their energies -- speech, movement, facial expressions. The latter all accompany the essence but are only analogues, not the real thing.
The miracle, really, is how unproblematic it is (for the healthy person, anyway) to "know" the essence of the other. What I mean is that human beings are able to share their essence with each other in such a way that they don't even know they're completely alone and trapped inside their neurology.
And it is a miracle, which I define as anything that comes about as a result of vertical causation. When two human beings are "together," it's not like a couple of objects brushing up against one another. Rather, we are intrinsically intersubjective -- in my opinion because God is. Again, the Trinity is the very essence of intersubjectivity, and cannot really be understood in any other way.
This is how we might understand certain paradoxical statements, such as "God goes forth out of himself and remains within himself." I mean, this is what I am doing at this very moment. With this post, I am "going out of myself," propagating my energies out into the world. And yet, I obviously haven't left my own head. I haven't actually moved at all. The really weird part is that so many of you are able to intuit my essence through these energies. For others, such as goddinpotty, the energies merely bounce off of them.
One of the most important psychoanalytic theorists was a fellow named R. D. Fairbairn, a brilliant man who helped psychoanalysis move from a one person inter-objective model to a two person intersubjective one. I don't want to get too pedantic here, but for Fairbairn, the essence of psychopathology lies in how well the person can manage their intersubjectivity. The project is intrinsically hazardous, because we obviously cannot do so without the assistance of other human beings, especially the Mother.
Think of our consciousness as a kind of infinite abyss. We are born into this abyss with no points of reference, nothing to hold on to, no way to convert it to "thought." In order to be a successful parent, you must be able to reach way down into the infinite subjectivity of your baby and help them form a map of reality. Conversely, it is easy enough to deny their subjective depth by treating them as an object.
Over the past four years, I've been able to spend a fair amount of time around parents who do this to their children, and it always makes me wince, because they are laying down barriers for the child's self-exploration and self-knowing. Yes, it can be regained later, but usually it is not (Fairbairn called it the "schizoid position"). I believe this is why so many people are so boring. Seriously, how many real live wires do you meet in a year? You know, people around whom you feel more alive, more free, more creative. Most people have the opposite effect.
This is something I noticed even -- or perhaps especially -- as a child. Why did so many grown-ups appear so dead, while others were so full of life? This is one of the reasons why I instinctively recoil from most leftists, as they are every bit as tedious as our current troll. What is political correctness but a kind of soul-crushing parental wet blanket that forecloses various avenues of thought, and therefore being?
Fairbairn pointed out that for the infant, the non-responsive parent cannot be understood in terms of an "absence." Rather, it is understood as the presence of something bad, i.e., a "bad object." This object is unconsciously internalized by the child, and forms the basis of what I call mind parasites.
A mind parasite is actually an "object relation" that consists of three parts: the subject, the object, and the affective link between them. Furthermore, because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, the person can at different times identify with either pole of the relation. This is something I see virtually every day in my practice. I could give examples, but I think you get the picture. It is why the liberal victim is always a bully, and vice versa.
The point is, what we call "reality" is actually a vast intersubjective space. And your ability to think deeply about it will partly depend upon the depth of your own intersubjective space. This space has no limits. Rather, any limits are only in your head. Thus, for example, to say that "God doesn't exist," is not a statement about God, but about one's own intersubjective space, which is unable to breach the walls of its own self-imposed limits.
But it's not just a religious problem. Many people are unable to truly love. Why? Because they are closed off from the intersubjective ground without which love could not exist.
Most of us have experienced this state, for example, if you have ever been truly depressed. "Sadness" is only an effect of depression. In my opinion, the real basis of it is a kind of exile into a hellish domain that loses its intersubjective depth. One can neither reach "in" nor "out." Nor can anyone else reach in. A friend of mine is going through this at the moment, and I'm doing what I can to help her through it, because one of the most bewildering aspects of depression is that one loses all of the familiar signposts that only exist in intersubjective space -- passions, hobbies, interests, etc. Without this passionate engagement with the world, there is only a kind of dis-oriented living death.
Hmm, how did we get here?
Oh yes, the intersubjective nature of God. How can one person have a vivid, passionate and life-affirming relationship with God, while for another, God doesn't even exist?
I guess at this point that's kind of a rhetorical question. I know that my four year-old already has a passionate relationship with God, even though I do nothing to impose any kind of top-down dogma on him. Rather, I help him name and explore his own spontaneous awareness of God. And as you parents out there know, it's just about the sweetest, purest thing you can possibly imagine. It cannot fail to render one misty with the old unshed, as my man Jeeves would say.
Why is that? Because, to paraphrase UnKnown Friend, tears signify "contact" between one plane of consciousness and another. It's literally touching.