Life and Death Are Like Night and Day
It just popped into my head that perhaps there are two paradises -- a night paradise and a day paradise. This would be one sensible way to reconcile dualism and non-dualism, the former corresponding to the eternal daytimelessness, the latter to the endless nighttimelessness, when everything merges into one. If this were the case, it is definitely something I could live with, because it would be just like life.
I mean, I love my days, but by 10:00, I've had enough. I'm ready to let myself go, die to the day, and blissfully dissolve into the sweet darkness of the underworld. But then in the morning, it's like a brand new creation. Really, life would be unendurable without the gift of sleep, no matter how good the day. It's like rebooting your computer.
Thanks to the sleep/wake cycle, life isn't an endless line, but an inward spiral. I always feel a bit sorry for people who say that they sleep as little as possible because they want to cram as much living as they can into their short life -- as if one isn't alive when asleep! Most such people actually have a fear of the unconscious -- of falling into its world -- and defend against it by staying "awake." But that just ends up being a wake, as Joyce knew. These types are usually pretty boring, the superficial "excitement" of their lives notwithstanding.
In fact, the whole structure of Finnegans Wake revolves around the sleep/wake cycle, both on a macro and micro level. It's fractally constructed, so that nearly every page reflects the death-rebirth (or sleeping-waking) motif of its overall circular structure. In the end, the dreamer flows into the ocean, only for the ocean to evaporate, form clouds, and resupply the river. We can isolate one part, but it's obviously a total process, like systole and diastole.
It reminds me of psychoanalytic training, during which the candidate undergoes analysis four or five days a week. One of the reasons for this is that material that comes out during the session is worked over at night, so that the dream material becomes grist for the mill in the next session. Just as there are times that heaven and earth are brought closer together, e.g. the "sacred time" of religious ritual, it is possible to bring the worlds of the conscious and unconscious "closer," resulting in a more creative and harmonious life.
There is no question that the unconscious is "feminine" while the conscious is "masculine"; the same can be said of night (female, lunar) and day (male, solar). Can it then be said that non-dualism tells us something about the feminine side of God?
Oh, I think so. Christianity is an explicitly solar religion, and yet, since it is a full service faith, Mary plays a prominent role, even if it is not necessarily articulated into a coherent metaphysic by most of the faithful. Nor does it need to be, for that is part of the whole point: to "understand" Mary with the wideawake and cutandry logic of the day is like trying to r**son with your w**e when s*e's in one of those "m**ds." Can't be done. You just end up in a deeper hole.
Now, let's suppose that since man is in the image of the Creator, the sleep-wake cycle does indeed reveal something of what goes on inside the godhead. As it so happens, there are those who maintain -- and I believe Bolton would be one of them -- that creation itself follows this pattern. In other words, it is as if, on the macro scale, creation itself is the "day of God," so it will not and cannot last forever. Someday it will all end. The cosmic sun will set. But that is no more the end-end than to sleep is to die. An awful lot of stuff goes on at night on every level -- mind, body and spirit.
In my book, I think you can see that I struggled to reconcile east and west, dualism and non-dualism, naught and deity. My "solution" is found in its circular structure, which, in a way, harmonizes dualism and non-dualism through the metaphor of birth. In the womb we are at one with the cosmos, floating weightlessly in a watery medium, all our needs spontaneously met before we are even aware of them. Indeed, to be aware of "need" is to be aware of self; this is what Bion meant when he said that the infant's experience of "no-breast" was the dawn of self-consciousness.
For that is when you "realize," however inchoately, that you are not the source of life, able to magically feed yourself, but in relation to it. So the birth of the self is also the breakthrough of relationship into being. It also puts the kibosh on narcissism; or alternatively -- if something goes awry at this stage -- cultivates the soil of narcissism, which ultimately comes down to the delusion of primitive self-sufficiency, even while one needs to surround oneself with two-dimensional others -- who are just props in the narcissist's psychic fantasy -- in order to support the delusion.
To cite a vivid example, the narcissist is always masturbating, even -- or especially -- during sex. But sex itself is just a metaphor. The narcissist is also masturbating while, say, delivering a lecture on climate change, which is why Copenhagen is truly an international jerk circle.
Let's return to Father Rose's account of the after-death situation. We've been greeted by the two angels at the terminal, who grab us by the astral body and conduct us... where? Why, to court, of course. Everyone is entitled to deus process and their deity in court, even terrorists and other mass murderers.
Rose quotes St. Ignatius, who wrote that "A judging and distinguishing are required to define the degree of a Christian soul's inclination to sin, in order to define what predominates in it..." Here, the elaborate veils of self-deception and self-justification are stripped away, and your true motives revealed. In that sense, God doesn't even have to say anything, for the problem becomes obvious: "Oh. I get it now." This is very painful, the pain depending upon the distance between the lie and the Truth, rationalization and Reason.
Interestingly, Father Rose acknowledges a striking similarity between Orthodoxy and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, what with its account of various "bardo planes" one passes through. These correspond to neither heaven nor hell, but depict "the aerial world of the under-heaven where fallen spirits dwell and are active in deceiving men for their damnation." It is actually an "invisible part of this world that man must pass through to reach the truly 'other' world of heaven or hell."
Father Rose discusses the intense feelings of peace and tranquility people reportedly experience during near-death experiences, but here again, these could be deceptive. He points out that these could be more or less "natural" sensations that occur as a result of being liberated from the body. To paraphrase Ram Dass, death is like removing a tight pair of shoes. Father Rose says that "When separated from this body, the soul is immediately in a state more 'natural' to it, closer to the state God intends for it.... In this sense, the 'peace' and 'pleasantness' of the out-of-body experience may be considered real and not a deception."
However, deception enters the picture if these transient feelings are considered ultimately real, "as though this peace were the true peace of reconciliation with God, and 'pleasantness' were the true spiritual pleasure of heaven."
Father Rose contrasts this with various saints who have had the experience of the "space of heaven" breaking into this world: "more important characteristics are added in this experience: the brightness of the light of heaven; the invisible presence of Lord, Whose voice is heard; the Saint's awe and fear before the Lord; and a tangible sensing of Divine grace, in the form of an indescribable fragrance. Further, it is specified that the multitude of 'people' encountered in heaven are... the souls of martyrs and holy men."
To be continued...
Why Frank? Why not?