The Mystery Between Mister O and Mister I
But there is also an implicit ontological sense of the term. As I have mentioned before, I have long suspected that the various fundamental mysteries that confront man are somehow interconnected; you might say that they are diverse manifestations of O.
What I mean is that there are certain things that are fundamentally beyond the horizon of knowability -- at least in the profane or rationalistic sense. No amount of cogitation will ever resolve these riddles, which include Time, Life, People, Self, and other magazines.
Sorry. That was a gag that couldn't help writing itself. These mysteries include Time (in all its modes, but especially the Now), Consciousness, Life, Freedom, and Being, AKA, that window into eternity that says I AM.
In the past I have used the metaphor of a three-dimensional hand passing through a two-dimensional plane. As the grubby fingers break through the plane, they will initially appear as one, then two, eventually five, circles (unless, like Petey, you were involved in a tragic farming accident). But then the circles will blend together at the wrist, if you still have one. You can always learn to use your left hand.
If you want to know what time -- and therefore evolution -- is, that's about as good an image as I can think of at the moment. Remember also what I -- or rather, Captain Kirk -- said the other day about the "circle" that exists when two dimensions meet -- analogous to the narrow passage between the chambers of an hourglass. Put the two images together, and what do we have?
I don't know. Let me think for a moment. A new Star Trek episode? I can't look at the keyboard and deploy my imagination at the same time.... speaking of which, add "imagination" to that list of mysteries above.
Got it. That little passage between the chambers is the "place" of declension, where the three-dimensional hand passes into two-dimensional space; you might say that it is where the Dreamer dreams the dream. It is certainly where free will takes place, not to mention the passage of time. And it is the only place where I AM could be.
The post I am about to edit was one that originally consisted of a purely "free association." You might say that it was an attempt to describe the sand particles as they flowed past. In editing it, I will now attempt to stand back from the hourglass for a wider view. In other words, in this second bite at the apple, I will attempt to contain what initially contained me -- or interpret the dream, so to speak.
It's FREE ASSOCIATION day, in which I, Bob's Unconscious, commandeer the wheel of Cosmic Bus and say whatever pops into his melon. It's a good way for him to discover what he thinks about things of which he knows nothing; or to know about things he has only unThought, and to thereby render this mythterious absence present. Or again, to bring forth some hidden corner of Bobness that should have perhaps remained hidden. At least we'll find out why.
Say, we haven't discussed time in a while, have we? It's always good to meditate on the mystery of time, since it is a modality that opens out to the infinite -- like the haunted house of Existence, the unexpected door into Life, and the miraculous window of Subjectivity.
Perhaps this is too obvious, but I think we can all agree that evolution presupposes time. Or does it? Obviously, there could be no possibility of evolution in the absence of time, time being a measure of change. But perhaps it's the other way around, i.e., that time is a byproduct of evolution. In other words, because things evolve, there is time. After all, if things didn't evolve, there would only be eternity, i.e., atemporal changelessness. As such, there would be no time to do anything, not even dash over to the dry cleaner before they close.
At this moment, I am looking straight ahead at my official Subgenius clock, with Bob Dobb's beaming face looking back at me. Some people suppose that a clock measures time, but that is incorrect. Rather, a clock measures space, as the hand moves from position to position (well, technically, this particular clock measures slack). A few moments ago, the minute hand was at Bob's noble chin. Now it is approaching the majestic pipe which he holds in his perfect teeth. The point is, time and change are thoroughly entangled, so that it is impossible to conceive of one in the absence of the other. Time is change and change is time.
Now, there is a difference between time and mere duration. And there is a kind of duration that is above and a kind of inverse analogy below. That is, God by definition transcends time and is not subject to change. Nevertheless, he obviously "endures." This is the modality of eternity, which is always now: before you spuds were, I YAM.
As we have discussed before, eternity is not time everlasting, but timelessness. However, on the temporal plane, the closest we can come to grasping eternity is through the very old and ancient. This is why we can obtain hints of the eternal in the presence of virgin nature, or a very old cathedral, or perhaps by looking out into the heavens. But these things should not be confused with eternity itself.
Eternity is not necessarily "time standing still." For example, Bob has treated numberless cases of psychological trauma (I didn't say "successfully"), and one of its universal characteristics is the suspension of time while the trauma is occurring. I think this can more or less be explained on Darwinian grounds, as an adaptation we evolved in order to cope with extreme distress. When someone is in the midst of a trauma, it is as if the event is implicitly recognized as being too "large" and full of implications to be able to metabolize and assimilate. As a result, the mind "shuts off," as it were. It continues to register the events as they are occurring, but in a timeless way that prevents us from thinking about them (which would require time). You might say that there is a defense mechanism that "stops time" (unlike progressiveism, which reverses it).
Only after the trauma has ended -- once the person is "safe" -- does the mind then "download" the trauma into time, so to speak, and start thinking about all the implications. Thus, the traumatized person always experiences flashbacks, or involuntary recollections that must be "metabolized" after the fact. Likewise, they will think about all of the many "what ifs," e.g., What if he had pulled the trigger?, or What if I had left my children behind?, or What if I hadn't noticed the stubble on her face? (long story).
Again, it is as if the trauma were a "hyperdimensional object," the implications of which can only be drawn out in time. (A more primitive person won't even be able to think about the trauma, but only act it out in time. In this case, the actions are the recollections. For some people, their whole life is simply the repetitive acting out of trauma; one thinks of the Islamists.)
Just so, an encounter with God can result in a similar kind of process that may take a lifetime to sort out. In other words, one must unpack and explicate all of the implications, which are more or less "infinite." Think of how Paul was "shattered" on the road to Damascus; the rest was just "commentary," so to speak.
I remember Schuon making reference to this in the preface to one of this books.... let me see if I can remember which one....
Here it is, from Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism: "[T]he Sophia perennis [that's the perennial wisdom for those of you in Reino Ciego] is quite evidently inexhaustible and has no natural limits.... As it is impossible to exhaust all that lends itself to being expressed, and as repetition in metaphysical matters cannot be a mistake -- it being better to be too clear than not clear enough -- we believe that we could return to our usual theses, either to offer things we have not yet said, or to explain in a usefully new way things we have said before."
So if these posts appear tediously repetitive, that's my excuse.
Later Schuon expands upon this in a useful way: "It is indispensable to know at the outset that there are truths inherent in the human spirit that are as if buried in the 'depths of the heart,' which means that they are contained as potentialities or virtualities in the pure Intellect: these are the principial or archetypal truths, those which prefigure and determine all others.... The intelligence of animals is partial, that of man is total; and this totality is explained only by a transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned. Thus, the decisive error of materialism and of agnosticism is to be blind to the fact that material things and the common experiences of our life are immensely beneath the scope of our intelligence.... without the Absolute, the capacity of our conceiving it would have no cause."
Okay, let's break this down. As we have said before, profane thinking, or (k), can never arrive at O, except in the exterior sense; it can conceive it, but being in it is a different matter. Real ontonoetic thinking is a declension from O, i.e., that "transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned." Now, if we were fully "in O," it would be analogous to being "in" the trauma; time stops, and we simply enjoy the divine Slack. There is duration, but no time. Augustine talks about being "taken up into heaven"; likewise, one thinks of Plotinus and so many other mystics down through the ages. Or, as Johan reminds us, it is like when Homer talks about the paradox of the beer being "in us," that we may be "in the beer."
But our day-to-day lives -- no, our life -- consists of unpacking and "assimilating" the "divine trauma" of O. Just like the bad kind of trauma, O shatters and never flatters the ego. The ego cannot possibly assimilate it, for it would be like the drop trying to assimilate the ocean. Rather, it must begin to work through the "flashbacks" of O, which are more like "memoirs of the future" than "predictions of the past," the latter of which are all of the "what ifs" that result from the adverse trauma.
Now, let's see.... what would be the "ultimate" trauma.... let me think.... Well, one trauma would obviously be the Big Bang, an event so brimming with implications that it would take billions of years to sort them out, this morning's post not excepted.
Afterwards, one of the biggest and most unexpected traumas to emerge from the primal explosion was the sudden appearance of Life. Evolution has been tinkering with its implications for the past 3.85 billion years, although Life only became consciously aware of its own implications perhaps 40,000 years ago, when another trauma occurred, the sudden emergence of the human subject. (By the way, for you creationists out there, feel free to translate this into your own terms; a grasp of the principles is the important thing, not a literal reading. In other words, any way you look at it, the awakening to the human state was a traumatic event, a reality memorialized in Genesis.)
Yes, but what would be the ultimate ultimate trauma, something that man could ponder forever and never quite assimilate.... I've got it! How about if the Absolute were to come down into history itself and obliterate all of our categories, even the "false absolute" of Death itself?
Hmmm, it might just work.... It's one thing to send down a book, but we all know what humans can do with books, i.e., "contain" and therefore kill them with their minds....
In an analogy Bob has not used before, probably with good reason, it is as if God dives into the deep end of history, and the resultant waves in the historical pool are still reaching us, because God is just too big for the pond. Imagine Charles Barkley or Rosie O'Donnell doing a cannonball into a wading pool.
Isn't there a scriptural passage to the effect that "death could not contain him?" The point is again that none of our cosmic, existential, scientific, or psychological categories can contain him. He shatters time, death, history, and the human being who allows himself to be traumatized -- or, let us say, crucified -- by this overwhelming event that is always happening.
Well, long day today, and I pretty much have to go where Bob goes, even though he could never contain me, not in a million lifetomes....
(Image yoinked from Vanderleun's sidebar, I don't know, just because it reminds me of this weird dream I once had. Or that once had me.)