Ghostchords From the Cosmic Frontier
Here's a cooncise way of putting IT: "diversity harmonized in love, multiplicity transcended in union." I like this because it expresses another clear but orthoparadox, for instead of saying that diversity and multiplicity are just maya, or forever separated from the Principle, it emphasizes that they are consecrated in love and union.
Thus, reality is not One, or a monad, but nor is it two. You could say that it's "not-two," but why not just say love? For love can only exist where there is an Other. This invests a new value in both the world and the person, because we are not just more or less distant emanations of the One, but intimately connected to it.
This reminds me of a plausible explanation I once read for the filioque dispute that still divides eastern and western forms of Christianity. In the east, they say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, whereas in the west they say that it proceeds from the Father and Son. I believe it was Balthasar who said that the eastern version implied a kind of linear emanationist metaphysic, in which "All things are derived from the first reality or perfect God by steps of degradation to lesser degrees of the first reality or God, and at every step the emanating beings are less pure, less perfect, less divine."
But to say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son implies a more Trinitarian outlook, in which the Persons are co-equal, and again, unified in love. If emanationism is correct, then the world-denying mysticism of a Plotinus (or Buddha) would be our only hope of "salvation," in that it revolves around reversing this situation and ascending up and out. For Plotinus there is still a trinity -- the One, the Intellect, and the Soul -- but the relationship is strictly linear and descending.
But if the world is Creation -- and recall our post from yesterday, about how Creation is the Master Key -- then salvation is a very different matter, because it includes the cosmos. And us. Which is nice.
I'm sure there's an Orthodox rejoinder to what I've just laid out, but I'm going to move on. I'm humble enough to say that we're not going to resolve a 1,500 year old argument in a blog post.
Anyway, I think we can see the implicit relationship between creation, multiplicity, love, harmony, and transcendence. In fact, harmony is another critical notion. Think of how a harmony is composed of individual notes, so there is no harmony in the absence of the notes. But thanks to harmony, notes aren't only notes, but get to participate -- i.e., transcend themselves -- in the harmony. Please note: there is not something "higher" than harmony -- as if playing every note simultaneously in a single blob of sound would be more musical. No: if ultimate reality is Trinity, then Trinity is "harmonious love," so to speak.
This is all another way of saying part/whole, but again emphasizing that this is not an emanationist metaphysic -- as if the notes are only a distant and degraded residue of the chord.
Note also the irreconcilable difference between this and the Muslim view. The first and last principle of Islam is that "there is no God but God." Sounds like a tautology, but the purpose is to emphasize the absolute distance between God and man (which is why Trinity would be unthinkable in Islam, much less Incarnation). Instead of being a unity in love, man and God are only "unified" to the extent that the former utterly abases himself before the latter by surrendering to the Law (Islam, of course, means "surrender"). There is obedience, but not what we would call love. You can say that you prefer one over the other, but please do not pretend that the metaphysic doesn't embody values that lead to vastly different cultures. (It certainly implies very different conceptions of parenting and therefore governing.)
The Koran charmingly puts it as follows: "They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them." Stay classy!
SA expressed a Coonism when he wrote that spiritual experience "is the meeting-place of the known and the not-known, the seen and the not-seen, the relative and the absolute." I should hope that a spiritual practice results in, and revolves around, "spiritual experience," or experience of the spiritual.
How do we know whether the experience we are having is spiritual? SA implies that we shall know it by its fruits, one of which will be a kind of literal "living on the edge" -- the edge of an expanding circle, as it were, where the circumference shades off into the not-known, the not-seen, and the Absolute.
But another orthoparadox enters here, for in this case, the edge is simultaneously the center. This actually makes perfect nonsense, so long as one understands that alpha and omega, origin and destiny, source and goal, are one, -- or simply the ancient Christian formulation that God became man so that man might become God.
The latter can only occur if man lives at the edge of himself, which is again simultaneously the center (or movement toward it). Or, as I have expressed it before, we acquire a new and higher psychic "center of gravity" (or levity). The essence of repentance, or metanoia, is simply this shift to a new center of gravity which is death and birth all in One. For to say the first shall be last is to say that birth shall be death.
So to say that the Raccoon prefers to live at the edge of the Cosmos is simply a truism. This cosmic edge is located in each man, however far he can push into it and colonize the space. As I've mentioned before -- probably in the book -- man left Africa, colonized Europe, crossed the sea, landed in the New World, and then pushed west until there was no more space to colonize by the conclusion of the 19th century.
But that was only the end of horizontal frontier. The exploration of the vertical frontier continues inward and upward, as it always will, for if it didn't, there could be no frontier. In other words, this evolution is only endless because there is an end (see yesterday's post for details).
Once we push into the frontier, we notice paths, footprints, and other signs of human life. It's not as if the area is as populated as a major urban center. However, it soon becomes obvious that other people have preceded us and cut through some of the major obstacles. It's still not easy to climb Mount Everest, but at least you know that it's possible because some people have done it already.
Now, as SA says, To go beyond the sign is not to reject the sign, but to reach the thing signified. Someone said that the purpose of crutches is to not need crutches, which is a nice way of expressing it.
One final thought from SA. He discusses grace in terms of "the Presence of the Absolute, the Eternal, the Unborn, existing in the heart of the realm of becoming, of time, of death and life." This is what we call (↓), which ultimately facilitates "the irresistible drawing of the entire universe and its fullness towards the ultimate Awakening to the Absolute...." It is "the raft by which man passes over to the 'other shore.'"
It is the RIP tide that pulls us into the Great Attractor.