The Secret Message of the Human Form
In a logoistic universe, everything is a symbol, and will therefore "refer" to something else. It is for this reason that concrete things are knowable in their abstract essence, and that essential things (archetypes) may take on a corporeal form. It is the reason why humans can communicate with one another, and why the world communicates with man, who is its "spokesperson." Everything carries a message, including the human form. The cosmos is made of language -- in fact, various languages -- that humans may decode and understand. This is the presupposition of both religion and science.
What is the message of the human body? It depends upon how well you can listen, and what your agenda is. If you are a biologist, you may be interested in the message of DNA, of the genes which encode various protein sequences. Obviously, this is a language. Or, on the macro end, you may be more interested in the form, the phenotype. For this person, the animal form will essentially be a "message" about the environment in which it evolved. For example, the thick fur of a polar bear is a message about the cold climate in which it evolved.
These reductionistic approaches obviously work in a limited sense for the lower animals. But they don't work for man; or, man clearly transcends any mere genetic or environmental explanation, if only because he is free to ignore his genetic "programming" (for example, he can choose to either pass on his genes or keep them to himself, which violates the whole point of natural selection), just as he can choose his environment (i.e., he needn't live in eastern Africa, where man evolved). You might say that if man comprehends natural selection, it cannot comprehend him. Or, if man understands his own genetic programming, he is no longer subordinate to the program.
Now, in the Coonifesto, I suggested that man is subject to two main programs or blueprints. There is the horizontal or terrestrial blueprint of our genotype; and there is the divine blueprint containing our "celestial archetype," so to speak. Any attempt to reduce the latter to the former is just plain silly. It accounts for the shrillness and condescension of reductionistic Darwinians who try to shout down their opponents with a "truth" that cannot be true.
The majority of scientists are not intellectuals properly so-called, but merely worker bees practicing a servile art on some micro-problem at the fringes of the ponderable or abstract Cosmos. We do not consult them for human wisdom, to say the least. Although a biologist specializes in "life," it would never occur to us to consult one to help determine the best way to live. Likewise, physicists specialize in the "material world," but it wouldn't occur to us to consult one to help us decide on the sorts of material objects we should use to decorate our house.
In short, the dispute between radical atheists and their opponents is basically a problem of knowing one's caste, or of material intelligence vs. spiritual intellect. Being that the divine plenitude results in a hierarchical, full employment cosmos, atheists surely have their (mainly catabolic) role and their place. It just isn't at the top.
The following is imperative: if we want to know the proper way to live, or understand the nature of beauty, then we must consult someone who is in touch with "reality," that is, human reality. Human reality is not found in mathematical equations or genetic programs, which are abstract, not real. The whole point of religion, properly understood, is to reconcile the human with human reality, or appearances with the Real. And the Real is not found "below," but above.
Equally important, this is not to say there is no "below." Obviously there is, since we are standing right above it. Religious people who deny the below end up looking just as silly as scientists who deny the above. If there is an above, there must be a below. Ultimately, as we shall see, man "refers" to God, and vice versa. This is the principle "message" of the human being, both in his objective and subjective states, i.e., body and mind.
As Schuon writes, "to say that man, and consequently the human body, is 'made in the image of God,' means a priori that it manifests something absolute and for that very reason something unlimited and perfect."
Here again, this is imperative: being the "summit" of creation, man transcends his animal form, even while having one. In other words, the human being is the quintessence of "earthly creatures, but also -- for that very reason -- the exit from their condition." Thus, "to see a man, is to see not only the image of God," but also a doorway that is open towards the "illuminating liberation."
To put it another way, we are the door or the lens through which God's energies are focused most intensely, a locus for the "inpouring" of grace into the world. But every entrance is an exit, so God's way into the world is our way out to God. Or, to paraphrase Eckhart, God's inflowing is our outflowing; or, God's outflowing is our inflowing. Same difference.
Now, among the human -- not merely genetic -- archetypes, are Male and Female (in fact, the genes are an expression of the archetype, not vice versa). Male and female, he created them. As maintained in Jewish thought, the Human Being as such is not male or female, but a complementarity of Male-Female, which is precisely why marriage is a sacrament, because it helps bring us closer to the divine archetype that transcends our individual and separative existence. And it does so through the unifying principle of love (not just Darwinian survival), which is only fitting. Even Darwinians get married, but one wonders why. In other words, why don't they just obey their genes and reproduce as indiscriminately as possible, like NBA players?
Again, if what we are saying is true, then we should see abundant evidence of man's deiformity. Here is an example that you will either understand or not (probably not if you went to graduate school), so I won't press the point. Being that God is by definition Absolute, he is necessarily Infinite. As Schuon writes, "the masculine body accentuates the first aspect, and the feminine body the second aspect." In other words, male principle = Absolute, female principle = Infinite (or you could even say 1 and 0, but I'd like to keep the discussion clean). This breaks down into further intelligible complementarities, such as the infinite compassion of Mother and the Absolute law of the Father; or Mercy and Justice; or "my baby's innocent!" vs. wait 'til your father gets home!
Culturally speaking, in the absence of the Father principle, there is only mercy and compassion, therefore the creation of victims, no matter how guilty. But in the absence of the Mother principle there is only rough justice for innocent and guilty alike, as in the Islamic world. Infidels and women get what's coming to them, even though they don't deserve it. But in liberal victim culture, no one gets what's coming to them, so no one learns, changes, or profits from experience.
If the human body carries a message, who's the messenger? Is it Darwin or God? Or some weird hybrid, like Dargod or Godwin? In other words, if the body is a reflective surface, does it only reflect the below, or does it also convey information about the above?
As we have discussed before, this is a problem science can't even pose, let alone resolve, because it excludes at the outset that which the scientist is not predisposed to believe. But for the believer, there can be no privilege higher than Truth, regardless of where it comes from or leads to. Science can only deal with a small subset of this greater Truth, and cannot even justify the existence of its own assertions, as per our friend Gödel.
Speaking of Gödel, now that I think about it, there were probably three or four singular intellectual developments in the 20th century that must be counted as being of the utmost importance to metaphysics, for they decisively undermined the entire metaphysical framework of reductionistic scientism.
In no particular order, these would be Gödel's theorems, which proved that any sufficiently complex logical system contains assumptions that cannot be justified by the system, but which are nevertheless true in the platonic sense (by extension, this means that a logical system can be consistent or complete, but not both).
Never forget Gödel.
Second, the nonlocality of the cosmos, as per the "experimental metaphysics" of Alain Aspect, which showed that subatomic particles are in instantaneous communion, irrespective of the distance involved.
Third, the emergence of chaos and complexity theories, revealing the deep fractal order of the cosmos at all levels, and how complex systems are governed by nonlocal attractors.
And fourth, the systematic mapping of the unconscious mind, showing that human thought results from a dialectical (or "bi-logical") synthesis of the asymmetrical conscious and the symmetrical unconscious mind.
Any attempt to comprehend the world without these deep truths will be feeble at best. As you may have noticed, religion has no difficulty accommodating these truths (indeed, it rests upon them), whereas they are highly problematic for any linear, atomistic, rationalistic, mechanistic, or reductionistic metaphysic. For example, anyone who has felt the real presence of a Great Soul who is no longer technically living, has no problem with nonlocality. I mean, I rely upon guidance from the "communion of saints" in the same way another person might rely upon wikipedia. I just take it for granted that they can speak to one in the here and now, across any spatial or temporal boundaries. It's not magic. Rather, it would be magic if they couldn't.
Nor does any religious person have a problem with the idea that science can provide no final answers to the quandary of existence. Rather, he is very comfortable with the provocative symbolism of revelation, which vaults the mind into a higher and deeper understanding, into the very dimension from which truth and revelation emanate like so many sparks from a central fire. Science can't do that.
And surely, no believer has a problem with the idea of mysterious archetypal attractors that seem to canalize or lure existence from a nonlocal phase space. Isn't this why we pray to do the Creator's will, to conform ourselves to the greatest and most attractive Attractor of them all?
And what sophisticated believer would be a big enough ass to think that mere logic is capable of mapping reality? Please. We thank God for the unruly symmetrical logic of the unconscious and supraconscious mind, for it is truly the Spice of Life. Without it, we couldn't have imagination, poetry, music, humor, mythology, and even the visionary leaps of the true scientist. If not for the unconscious (I should really say "transconscious" or "metaconscious"), bean-counting mathematicians would be the legislators of this world, instead of poets and prophets.
Now, as we were saying yesterday, the supreme principle breaks out into the absolute and infinite, or the male principle and the female principle. As Schuon writes, "each of the two bodies, the masculine and feminine, manifests modes of perfection by definition evoked by their respective sex; all cosmic qualities are divided in fact into two complementary groups."
This is just as the physicist Neils Bohr might have predicted. In fact, in my list of 20th century metaphysical breakthroughs, I should have mentioned the principle of complementarity. In your day-to-day life, whenever you are confronted with a seemingly unresolvable paradox, it's almost always a case of complementarity -- not "either/or," but "both/and" -- for example, time/eternity, form/substance, subject/object, matter/spirit, wave/particle, conscious/unconscious, male/female, science/religion, intelligent design/natural selection, tastes great/less filling, etc.
As it pertains to the complementarity of male/female, Schuon points out that there is naturally something anterior to this, which is "the non-material being that was the primordial androgyne," and "which survives in each of us." This is Adam Kadmon, the Cosmic Man, or divine blueprint for humans.
What this means is that the human form is a "harmelody," i.e., a complementary synthesis of vertical chords (the archetypes) and horizontal melody (or terrestrial plunge into time and evolution), and that we are of a nonlocal piece with the stars that gave birth to the elements of which we are composed. In other words, when a human being looks at a star in the night time sky, he is really registering photons from a long-ago event that might very well mirror his own cosmic birth. The cosmos is thoroughly entangled with itself in this bizarre manner, so that we can literally see our own cosmic past as it arrives at our doorstep.
And to say that we are but a fugitive dream within the deathless, sleeping what's-His-G-d-name, is simply to acknowledge that our life is a dream dreamt by the nonlocal Dreamer beyond name and form, a Dreamer that lives within our deepest Self. Yes,
The world of things that come to be and cease to be is a world of dreams. He who is asleep and dreaming (in the literal sense) in this world is in reality dreaming doubly; and when he wakes (in the literal sense), he is like a man who has been awakened from an "incidental" sleep, but has given himself up again to his "natural" sleep. --Hermes
So awaken to the great Dreamer who dreams the dream of this cosmos, and dream actively instead of being passively dreamt -- especially by the hypnopompous dreams of sleeping materialists.
I once had a dream. I dreamt that I, even though a man, was pregnant, pregnant and full with Nothingness like a woman who is with child. And out of this Nothingness God was born. --Meister Eckhart