How to Know When God is Speaking to You
And when I say "essential," I don't mean it in the sense that it is essential for you to read them; rather, I mean it in the sense that he directly communicates the spiritual essence of what he is discussing (you might say that essence is to the vertical what existence is to the horizontal).
This is always the hallmark of a gifted religious writer: the direct communication of essence; or, to put it another way, their communication is spiritually infused with the "substance" of the reality under discussion. In fact, if this essence -- or substance -- is not present, then something ain't right, either in the transmitter or the receiver (i.e., him or you; but if the problem is in you, you will be incapable of discerning a fraud from the real thing, a Deepak from a Dionysius).
It reminds me of something my most gifted professor taught me in graduate school: if either you or the patient aren't aware of an emotional disturbance in the session, then something is wrong (in other words, the two of you are probably colluding to avoid some primitive material).
Pieper actually touches on this issue in his section on faith. "In speaking to men, God does not cause them to know objective facts, but he does throw open to them his own Being" (emphasis mine). Do you see the profundity of this statement? When he communicates, God quintessentially communicates his own essence -- which, on our end, is subjectively accompanied by awareness of the sacred. And awareness of the sacred is nothing less than innate consciousness of the presence of God (Schuon).
Again, to turn it around, if, for whatever reason, a person has rendered himself unable or unwilling to sense the sacred, he will be unable to sense the presence of God. Conversely, when one is aware of the sacred, God is present. Of course he is always and everywhere "present," but in order to be aware of that fact, we must become a vertically open system, i.e., (↑↓).
Or, to paraphrase Petey, if you haven't received the hologram to your private particle, you need to come in, open His presence, and report for karmic duty.
Note that the "essence of the essence," so to speak, of the divine revelation, utterly transcends any ability to draw a distinction between signifier and signified, symbol and symbolized, for the two merge in God. Thus, "the Incarnation of God and the revelation in Christ are one and the same reality" (Pieper; emphasis mine).
This revelation of being is only offered to us, never forced (interestingly, my above referenced professor once remarked that he never, ever, recommended psychotherapy, but only offered it; I can certainly say the same of this blog).
The "content" of revelation is ultimately Revelation as such, which is to say, a loving invitation to "participate in the divine life." Which in turn is why faith is so critical, for faith is essentially the acceptance of God's offer -- or of his self-revelation, to be precise. "Divine revelation is not an announcement of a report on reality but the imparting of that reality itself" (emphasis mine). To have "faith" means to actually take God's call, and not just put him on hold or play phone tag with him.
As I've mentioned before, Schuon's writing is always characterized by its essentiality, so let's see what he has to say about the human ability to know the sacred. I really don't see how someone could be more exact, while at the same time not "confining" the human spirit. To the contrary, I find that Schuon's exactitude is always liberating, as it bears upon, and opens up to, the Infinite (again, it is vertically open):
"That is sacred which in the first place is attached to the transcendent order, secondly, possesses the character of absolute certainty and, thirdly, eludes the comprehension and control of the ordinary human mind. Imagine a tree whose leaves, having no kind of direct knowledge about the root, hold a discussion about whether or not a root exists and what its form is if it does: if a voice then came from the root telling them that the root does exist and what its form is, that message would be sacred."
Which is why, in the words of Petey, It is a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf.
"The sacred is the presence of the center in the periphery, of the immutable in the moving.... The sacred introduces a quality of the absolute into relativities and confers on perishable things a texture of eternity" (Schuon).
Elsewhere he says that "It is the interference of the uncreate in the created, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm..."
Traces of the sacred are everywhere -- those life-giving springs dotting the horizontal landscape -- but it is up to us to hone our ability to detect them: "To feel this concretely is to possess the sense of the sacred, and thereby the instinct of adoration, devotion and submission." It is to be simultaneously aware of the "immense remoteness and miraculous proximity" of O. Which in turn is why the Raccoon is always on the way to his deustination. He is simultaneously there and not yet there, which in-forms the dialectical tension of his life journey into O.
By the way, for Pieper, the closest human analogue to God's disclosure of his Being is....
How about I. Love. You.
Why is that? Because this simple statement is simultaneously a revelation of what it reveals. In other words, it is not a factual statement about love, but its direct transmission from human to human (one especially notices this with young children, whose verbal expressions of love are so spontaneous and pure that they are literally heartbreaking. Ouch! Hurts so good!).
I love you is also a direct and intimate revelation of the deepest identity of the one who loves. Thus, there are three elements unified in the one utterance: the "self-witnessing" of the I who loves; the affirmation of the reality of love; and the revelation that one is beloved.
Which is why in God, one must not draw an artificial distinction between love and knowledge, for his revelation is a direct transmission of his loving nature, of love, and of our belovedness in God. Divine communication and comm-union are one and the same.
I feel like I barely got started, and now it's time to stop. To be continued....