Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sights and Sounds in the Upper Atmasphere

How are we to conceive and perceive the great vertical realms that transcend the senses? In fact, that very sentence betrays a contradiction, since conceiving and perceiving are two very different modes. Do we merely conceive these realms? Or do we actually perceive them? And with what senses, exactly?

When we turn the world upside down -- which is to say, right side up -- we understand that our five empirical senses have their source above, not below. Not only does this make sense -- and make sense possible -- but it immediately resolves a host of mysteries that will forever evade any Darwinian, materialistic explanation. "Seeing," "hearing," "touching," etc. -- each of these has its analogue in the higher worlds, without which, the lower corporeal mode could not exist.

As Schuon explains, "the eye, owing to its particularly adequate correspondence with the Intellect, lends itself spontaneously to traditional symbolism, and is to be found... in the symbolic language of all Revelations." For example, you've no doubt seen this symbol on the back of our legal tender, minus the descending Arrow of Toots (the founders didn't want to give the whole game away).

Why is the eye -- or vision -- so central to spiritual gnosis? Well, think of it: unlike, say, hearing, which is unavoidably in time, vision takes in an entire landscape in an instant, so it is closer to the timelessness of the principial realm.

Now, all of the senses are in the end more or less refined forms of touch. Sight, for example involves touching photons, while hearing involves touching air molecules. But if we could rank the senses by their level of subtlety, they would clearly descend from sight (light), to sound (upper atmosphere), to smell (lower atmosphere), to taste (upper terrestrial), and lastly, to touch (lower terrestrial).

And yet, it's not so simple and straightforward as that, in that, say, the delicate pianistic touch of a Bill Evans reveals that he had "ears in his fingers," so to speak, while a gifted photographer like Robin can touch the subject -- which is to say, the cosmic interior -- with his lens. Thus, through the law of inverse analogy, all senses are principially vision but manifestly touch.

It is also critical to bear in mind that the senses are always knowledge as well. In the metaphysics of Vedanta, for example, the senses are a descent from Buddhi, or the higher intellect. If I remember correctly, the cosmic descent -- the downward arrow into the whole existentialada -- goes something like this (and I'll skip a few stages): Brahman (the apophatic God without attributes, i.e., Godhead) --> Ishvara (God with attributes, the Creator) --> Prakriti (which is maya on the one hand, but the infinitely creative power of Brahman on the other) --> Mahat (cosmic intelligence) --> Buddhi (intellect) --> Ahamkara (individual egoic I-consciousness) --> five senses.

But again, as Schoun explains, "the correspondence between sight and Intellect" is "due to the static and total character of the former." As such, it also corresponds to space rather, than time, and of the two -- time and space -- the latter would be closer to the Principle, since time is, in a way, the serial presentation of space.

Vision also tends to be less "self interested" and more objective and detached than the other senses. Think, for example, of taste, which takes in what it likes and spits out what it doesn't. You can't really do that with vision. Rather, reality comes into the eyes, warts and all. You can't take in the beautiful landscape and spit out the ugly billboard or powerline.

But in its own way, hearing is as exalted as vision, for it is to time what vision is to space. For those of you who have a dog-eared copy of the The Coonifesto, you know that I carry a soft spot for the ears (see pp. 44-46).

It seems to me that on our side of manifestation, the ears rather than the eyes are the quintessential sense, for to properly "hear" time is to trace it back to its vertical source. "A true image of time must be an image for the ear, an audible image, an image made of tones.... Thanks to music, we are able to behold time" (Zuckerkandl).

What I really mean to say is that for anyone on the "descending path" of the Raccoon, through which we do not wish to escape the manifestation but to spiritualize it, music -- and ears -- takes on that much more significance. You might say that for the Raccoon, our ears are our eyes in the herebelow, so that we may not always see the signs of the times, but we can certainly hear the melody of the timeless.

Think of the principial basis of Christianity, which begins with Word, a word that must be heard. Hence, "you who have ears, listen. Be attentive!" (that means you Rick). "Eyes made new," indeed.

Gosh! Out of time. To be continued...


ge said...

h-EARS Harmony
the voice of God
[just to add a quote & thought or 2 to your juicy post: eyes at least have lids, where our ears alas don't, so in that sense hearing is most active/'on' of senses?]

"...The senses are the elements by which the “principial elements” are perceived. Touch, the tactile sense, is of the Earth, that is, of everything forming a material obstacle to the matter of the body. The body of the wind is Earth, as is the body of water, or stone. The senses are aware of an activity only by opposing it with a resistance of an identical nature. Taste is related to water, and nothing, be it a gas or a solid, can be tasted unless it be slightly dissolved. Thus there is a Water principle in everything. The sense of smell belongs to Air because nothing can be smelled unless it be volatile, or made so, as, for example, by heat. And so there is an Air principle in all things. Sight belongs to Fire: nothing can be seen without the radiance of Fire, just as a piece of iron, dark in the darkness, becomes dull red then dazzling white if heated by an invisible energy.

The heat of ordinary fire belongs to touch and not to sight. Thus the Fire principle exists in all visible things.

Hearing belongs to the quint-element, the Word, which becomes perceptible physically and tangibly through sound. The first four senses pass through the brain; the fifth sense, hearing, passes through the “heart” without speaking directly to the brain. It is the spiritual sense, the door to intelligence-of-the-heart.

Each thing has its own sound..."

-Uncle Schwaller

julie said...

I'm reminded, too, of UF's observation that the senses are wounds, inasmuch as they are a means for that which is outside ourselves to be internalized.

Great quote, ge.

walt said...

GE -

Interesting site. Do you use their products?

Years ago, I read two books by Isha (who I guess was Uncle Schwaller's wife ?), Her-bak, and Her-bak II. But I've never understood what the thrust of their writings were aimed at. Since you seem to favor him, can you offer an opinion?

Rick said...

Are the eyes ever off? Or do the lids just change the view?

Interesting to think about. Same with the can turn them off although mechanically they are still working.

When you dream, is there dialog? ...or is only meaning conveyed between "characters" and you just think you hear the words spoken? Seems to me you can think thoughts with or without words. Un other words, do you just simultaneously "project" and "watch" your thoughts as you form them.

Grant Maher said...

A fascinating exposition on the senses here, Bob.

Very entertaining as well as informative.

I would have liked more about synesthsia, which you touched upon with the musician with ears in the fingertips.

Apparently there is a whole range of crossover sensations, in which sound is seen, touch produces colors, or the sight of something produces a tactile effect, etc.

I don't get much of that action myself but it sounds fascinating.

I would also like to add a sixth sense, "Grokking" or the sensing of a mental or emotional field. I do get quite a bit of that action.

All sense is touch so I'm thinking that grokking involves the touch of "psychotrons," undiscovered basic particles of consciousness, acting upon an unkown sense organ in the neocortex.

ge said...

with Bob's persimmon, a quick answer Walt:

'Al-Kemi' by VandenBroeck explains it so much better than i could [it ranks beside MOT and a couple others as re-re-re-re-readable lifetime-books]...
'no' re that site's products, but i am newly intrigued by the term Spagyry...I'd recommend Isha's 'Opening of the Way' as a great full answer to yr ? [it's not a novel like you've read of hers.] It's their interp. of Egyptian esoterism, 'yoga'. VandenBroeck considers Isha at odds with [the profundity of] her husband's work/legacy. Quel family! Lucie Lamy the stepdaughter was apparently almost a robot of Schwaller's, trained just to accomplish his books' fine “Canon of Proportion” drawings...

or check out R.A.'s NATURE WORD or ESOTERISM & SYMBOL [the source of that quote], my fave short texts of his ---
Schwaller's Egypt is a seed of, has much in harmony with the Christian revelation, which is properly suited for, resonant with these times.

~~meanwhire, on a righter note:

-Not yet Malia! I was at my Fortress of Solitude
contemplating Lex Luther's next diabolical move!

walt said...

Thanks, GE!

f/zero said...

Rather, reality comes into the eyes, warts and all. You can't take in the beautiful landscape and spit out the ugly billboard or powerline.

And oddly enough, that's often where the truest beauty lurks. "Surprise!", it says, poking me in the eye every time. Even an oil spill viewed from space is a wonder when you consider the near - or perhaps sheer - impossibility that any of this is here in the first place.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye see! (Ayeyiyi si in Spanish).

Great post, Bob!
Great comments too. Good point Rick about seeing and hearing all the time, with a different perspective of course while sleeping/dreaming.

I concur we can see n' hear our "thoughts," hopefully in proper coon-text.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I read brale which is like braille except it involves ale, and there ain't no dot thingy's to depsyfer.

Although, if you read brale too quickly and without properly dijesting (also known as the
mono-brale) you may have an increased risk of gettin' yer eyes dotted and you will feel that if they are dotted with an abundance of gusto.

I do have a remedy for dotted eyes (and dotted ayes) and I do make house calls (collect) if you are suffering from this malady.

Skully, yer friendly nayborhood Aye doctor.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speakin' of sounds, back in the day (not sure if they still do this on ships anymore) the bos'n mate would communicate certain signals with a bosun's whistle.

We would know what it meant based on the particular notes he played (and the inflection) before any (if any) words were spoken (sometimes both was done but the whistle always came first).
And sometimes the whistles was used as a prelude to a particular message.

O uses one as well, although that would be called an Osun's whistle.