Faith in Reality and the Light of Belief
What it means is that O is where you insert your deity. But in reality, O is where God inserts himself, so to speak. It's that setting you leave for him at the table, the light you leave on for him in the window. The difference between 1 and 1O is just O, but look at the difference it makes! You get ten times the reality by simply adding a little O to 1 self.
The above account no doubt appears a little silly, but as I will proceed to demonstrate -- I hope -- is that what we call "faith" is the only appropriate mode with which to approach the ultimate reality of O. Let's get to it.
Yesterday I mentioned the unique bipolarity of faith, in that, by its very nature, it involves a combination of certitude and uncertainty (not doubt, which is another thing entirely, more on which below).
Pieper -- following Thomas -- calls it "an element of perfection and an element of imperfection," although I'm not sure that's the most adequate way to describe it, because again, faith as such is the most "perfect" approach to O. A perfect adequation to O would of course make us God. But so long as we are men, we can obviously never fully encompass O; no matter how much of O we "contain," it still orthoparadoxically contains us. It is both immanent and transcendent -- and immanent because transcendent.
Pieper goes on to say that "the perfection [of faith] inheres in the firmness of the assent" -- in other words, "I am one hundred percent convinced of the reality of O." But the imperfection has to do with "the fact that no vision operates -- with the result being that the believer is troubled by a lingering 'unrest'."
And "unrest" may not be the most accurate word, since there is apparently not a perfect translation for cogitacio. "Unrest" implies a certain "lack," when I again insist that this lack is like... you know, like our friend Lao-tzu always says: we mold the clay into a cup, but it's the emptiness inside that we actually use. Or, we build a house in order to live in the space inside. We don't live "in the house," but in the space it protects.
I could really get sidetracked here, since the Tao Te Ching is such a fine treatise on living with the attitude of faith in O. Some quick examples: The Tao is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities.... The more you use of it, the more it produces. Like O, it is empty yet inexhaustible. Or, you could just refer to the opening and closing and opening passage of the Coonifesto: fount of all being / unborn thus undying / beginning and end of all impossibility / empty plenum and inexhaustible void.
Back to Pieper and the "mental unrest." He explains that it really connotes a "searching investigation" or "probing consideration," a "mental reaching out for something not yet finally found." It is a linking together of the Yes! and the Yes?, the latter of which is absolutely distinct from a soft and flabby "maybe." The Yes! signifies the real presence, while the Yes? signifies the necessary absence that will be perpetually filled by faith.
So the mental unrest does not go back and forth between, say, "maybe" and "maybe not." It's much more radical and polarized than that. And it is this "polarity" that renders faith dynamic and capable of "work" -- just as the positive and negative poles of a battery create the possibility of work. The negative pole of the battery obviously isn't "nothing." Indeed, we could call negative positive and positive negative if we like.
The real negative only occurs when positive and negative -- the already and the not yet -- are no longer polarized but at equilibrium. And please note that the latter hardly implies any "complete oneness with reality," despite superficial similarities. Some of our competitors praise this state of pseudo-samadhi as the highest reality, when it is often just an elimination of the tension we are discussing here. One of our own trolls tries to sell this blobby notion of "I am you, you are me," but again, this is all wrong. When I visit ultimate reality, I want to be there. Nor do I want to be someone else, especially some people.
As Pieper explains, "doubt" or "opinion" also involve a "mental unrest," but it is of a fundamentally different kind. For example, both doubt and opinion wish they could be certain, since both are of limited value as they stand. Once they are fulfilled, then "the discursive movement back and forth" comes to an end. Once "the conclusion is reached, all that belongs, so to speak, to the past."
But in the case of faith, the "conclusion," or "assent," is only the beginning. Furthermore, its greater part -- greater by far -- is in the "future." The faithful self -- (o) -- remains within a perpetual "searching and pondering of what it believes." In fact, I'm doing it right now.
Now, perhaps you will have noticed that this is quite similar to what motivates the real scientist. And this is indeed the point. I won't rehearse Polanyi's whole argument here, but a real scientist could never be a slave to "materialism" or some similar metaphysic of the dead and settled past. Rather, he maintains a vibrant, living and evolving relation to O as it manifests in the plane of appearances.
I mean, c'mon. Try reading the Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists. No, they are not correct in all the metaphysical details, but at least they didn't try to enclose O in some manmade little formula like "random error + reproductive success." The latter represents the kind of certainty that makes it strictly impossible to have faith in reality. Indeed, how can a random accident even speak of "reality" with a straight face?
For when a Raccoon speaks of "faith," he means assent to complete nonsense -- the nonsense of O. For to imagine that O could ever be a kind of sensual object is the height of nonsense. But once one acknowledges O, then all reality is illuminated by the light of belief, including, of course, the "material world."
Our trolls are pretty dense, but the other day, I bet one of them that he couldn't summarize the Raccoon philosophy despite having been a faithful reader for many months. Somehow he has convinced himself that we believe the natural world to be "a rather dead mechanical assemblage." Talk about projection! It is specifically because of O that the world is so alive, so lovely, so interesting, and so worthy of our being in it.
Oh well. Let the dead bury the tenured.