Monday, December 13, 2010

I AM, the Center and Origin of the Cosmos

We shall now discuss the resonance (≈) between the fourth day/act of creation and the fourth sign/miracle recorded in the gospel of John. This is appropriate, because this miracle has to do with the cosmic center, and the four is midway between the one and seven. Let's start with a passage from last Saturday's post:

"The self -- at least a healthy self -- does not merely spin around an interior axis. Rather, aided by 'the light of Reason' (understood in its integral, not merely rationalistic sense) and by transcendent ideals, this center of subjectivity can undergo increased order and centration, and evolve in the direction of one's highest aspiration, toward the true cosmic center of which we are a distant reflection -- we are the 'center at the periphery,' as Schuon has called it, the true center being the nonlocal, space-pervading spirit of I AM."

This reminds me of another observation of Schuon, that "traditional peoples in general" are "dominated by two key-ideas, the idea of the Center and the idea of the Origin." Center is to space as Origin is to time; thus, "every value is related in some way to a sacred Center, which is the place where Heaven has touched the earth," just as every moment is related to "the quasi-timeless moment when Heaven was near and terrestrial things were still half-celestial."

I would use the present tense, and say that there is a "place" -- here -- and a "time" -- now -- in which O is present, pouring down and into time and space.

Now, most garden-variety intellectuals are more or less "weightless," in part because their ideas are rooted in nothing more solid than their own airy abstractions (and usually abstractions that aren't even their own, just the presuppositions of academia). Genuine human maturity occurs when our minds become anchored in the Real. To approach Truth is to converge upon the Center without which Truth could not be (likewise beauty and virtue).

In fact, since so many modern intellectuals are uncomfortable swimming in the whole nocean of God, this is one of the reasons I employ the abstract symbol O to stand for the ultimate ground of our being, a ground which may (only) be known subjectively (i.e., you'll have to get wet).

Unless one's being abides in O, one cannot ultimately "think straight" about reality, much less be a true leader of men (who will spontaneously follow such a straightman). Thus, one must cleave to O with all one's heart, mind, and strength -- or in sentiment, thought, and will.

One can scarcely imagine Jesus thinking or speaking outside O. In other words, he speaks from the Center because he is the Center (and Origin: In the beginning was the Word or before Abraham was, I AM). His being -- or essence -- precedes his existence. (Leftism is the inverse of this, in that essence is determined by race, or class, or gender, or sexual orientation, etc.)

This is why pseudo-theologians who claim that Jesus was just another teacher are so wildly off base. In everything Jesus says and does, regardless of the specific content, the even deeper message is the "ontological weight" he radiates from the center out.

Indeed, this is the first thing people notice about him, both followers and detractors. Just as in the physical world, gravity is a function of mass, and the mass of Jesus' newclear center -- at once centripetal and centrifugal -- draws people (and trouble) to him like ants to a picnic.

The three wise men of the east are drawn to that Center, just as Herod senses the presence of an alternate center of power, and schemes to literally murder it in the crib before it can grow in influence.

John the Baptist also immediately recognizes the Center -- which stands as a general lesson for all of us. Spiritual development is predicated on being able to re-cognize the Center when in its presence. Although all human beings are born with this native ability, for any number of developmental reasons we can lose contact with it, thus spinning out of orbit -- or, perhaps even worse, spend our lives orbiting a false center.

The Center can only communicate "Center to center," so to the extent that one has lost or failed to develop it, it will be a case of "God's lights are on but nobody's om."

One must cultivate this center in order to sense the "real presence" (or presence of the Real), otherwise one remains exiled in the teenage wasteland of mere ideas -- which is really not all that more solid and enduring than the world of fleeting desires or impulses. The overwhelming majority of ideas does not -- and certainly should not -- survive the birdbrain who hatched them. It would have been better if most ideas had not even been conceived at all. They'll eventually be aborted anyway.

I am reminded of a scene from an animated film I just watched with the Boy, Spirited Away. Long story short, the protagonist finds herself in the spiritual world, where she is beginning to grow "transparent" on the way to vanishing altogether. The hero insists that she must eat something from this world in order to prevent disappearing. He places something in her mouth which very much evokes the idea of communion, which is nothing less than ingesting food from the Source (and this is a Japanese film, so the idea must be universal).

In any event, John the Baptist immediately recognizes the Center (Matt 4:14). Note as well that even God himself is then drawn to this Center (so to Speak), another profound lesson to meditate upon: And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (Matt 4:17).

But before you get all excited, note that the very next sentence once again indicates that hostile cosmic forces are simultaneously drawn to the scene of the climb (Matt 4:1). Jesus spends the subsequent forty days in the bewilderness, where he is tempted by the devil -- whom you might say is the cosmic periphery, or "dispersal," personified. He attempts to draw Jesus out of the Center and into "the world," but unsuccessfully.

Thus there is always a hostile, countervailing force that attempts to draw the Center outside of itself -- which indeed is the quintessence of all temptation and of all sin, which involves a vain dissipation of our psychic substance. With no center of gravity or groove of centrality, we have no defense, no way to "repel" the worldly forces that perpetually draw us down and out of ourselves. We "fall" when there is nothing there to hold us fast to the Center.

Conversely, if we abide in the Center, temptations eventually fall away of their own accord. Another way of saying this is that our "force" becomes stronger than the world's force.

After Jesus successfully repels the temptations of Ø by abiding in O, behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matt 4:11). In other words, benign vertical forces are drawn in, which only happens all the timeless.

After that come the first two disciples, who clearly sense the ontological weight of the Center, to such an extent that they immediately drop what they're doing and follow him (Matt 4:20) -- although pulled into him is probably more like it. And then a multitude is drawn in (Matt 4:23). And so on. For the Christian, Jesus represents the trans-cosmic "Center made flesh," so to speak. Today, the center continues to pull history in its Wake. Finnagain!

Jesus eventually draws everyone and everything in, but that's a story for another posterior, a memoir of the future. Suffice it to say that the I AM of the cosmic Center is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last (Rev 22:13).

The existence of God does not have to be proven to the man who knows this Center, either in himself or in another, any more than the existence of sight needs to be proven to the one who sees. For we have an innate sense of the sacred, which is a direct reflection of the Center within us.

In other worlds, the ultimate reality radiates from the cosmic Center and reaches us in the depths of our center, which is to say, the heart, which represents the higher (third) union of thought and emotion. This is the mystery of God's immanence, "which makes us capable of knowing all that is knowable, and which for that very reason makes us immortal" (Schuon).

But first you must learn how to be an unknow-it-all, for He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30), until our center is at the Center (ʘ). With no length or width, it is everywhere and everywhen and everywho and everywhy (i.e., the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere).

25 Comments:

Blogger glindfors said...

"But first you must learn how to be an unknow-it-all, for He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30), until our center is at the Center (ʘ). With no length or width, it is everywhere and everywhen and everywho and everywhy (i.e., the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere)."
Followed immediately by...
"0 COMMENTS:"
Actually, it's the (ʘ) comments that I come for... thank you for my daily clue-by-four upside the head.

12/13/2010 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I love Spirited Away - it's so beautifully done. My Neighbor Totoro is good, too - done by the same people, if memory serves.

The existence of God does not have to be proven to the man who knows this Center, either in himself or in another...

From one I to another, an apropos coonversation. Which really started with Rick's latest dispatch, spread like a flame through Mushroom's, then settled in for a stay at the Motel.

12/13/2010 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Unless one's being abides in O, one cannot ultimately "think straight" about reality, much less be a true leader of men (who will spontaneously follow such a straightman).

Shrinkwrapped has an interesting post up about god and morality in the Epstein case.

"What the legal bloggers do not talk about is the limitations of the law in dealing with many different issues that are fundamentally moral rather than legal. The trend for the last 100 years, since the death of G-d was proclaimed, has been to enlarge the writ of the law while shrinking the reach of morality. The argument is made on a regular basis that there is little need for a Deity to instruct our morality. (I addressed some thoughts to this in a post last week: To Debate Religion ... or Not.) The question of incest is a perfect illustration of the limits of legally based morality and the inability to establish any limits when morality is divorced from the religious tradition from which it emerged."

I wish I could say I was shocked at the number of people who genuinely don't understand what the problem is, since the case involved consenting adults. The intellectual weightlessness not only of the left but among many libertarians in this instance has robbed them of the ability to call evil evil.

They not only lack a center, but as per Friday's post they have no boundaries. Separation and order have flattened into a horizontal chaos. If the relationship bothers them, all they can say is that they don't like it, it's not their thing, but who are they to judge?

12/13/2010 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger kabir said...

Center of the universe, thats about as dense as it gets. Can we draw any analogies between Jesus, blackholes,event horizons and the eternal kingdom of heaven?

Much less speculatively I wonder about the alpha and omega bit. Being a bit of a spiritual wanderer, I've struggled to find true center. Once I was told or dreamed, that all I need to know is is he (Christ) is the beginning and the end.

Now for me it imparted a sense of the complete transcendent truth of Christianity. That it contains the first and last rules in existence. It also gave me a sense of how Christianity fits with all the other religions. It simply contains them whole. Whatever attracts me about another religion, whether it is the profund cosmic sort of depth of a eastern mystics eyes, is also contained in the mystery Christianity.

I guess I'm saying this because I wonder if there is a cosmic version of christianity waiting for us to evolve into? One that may resolve lots of paradoxes for not quite dead scientists and rationalist types?

12/13/2010 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

In light of today's post, I must ask a question.

Are body piercings and tattoos morally wrong?

12/13/2010 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Center is to space as Origin is to time"

Bob I remember you saying awhile back that because of your prior film school education you had an easier time adapting to your following psychology education.

I used to do quite a bit of computer animation where I work. Everything is dependent on (or rather, can never get away from) the absolute establishments of where and when things happen in "relation" to the origin in time and space. Or nothing can be done. And of course where these are established in the viewer, most commonly referred to in a an animation as the "camera". It's really why I have little trouble with saying that it is not always a fact that "we" revolve around the sun. In animation, on one plane (the only one that matters) everything revolves around the camera; which is us, and ultimately, God.
Depends where you put the camera. It's the center. And what it sees arrives at its center.

12/13/2010 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Magnus -- but also Grant, since you brought up "moral" today, this from Fr. Stephen today, that also ties with Bob's post today.

On morality, Fr. Stephen explains the Orthodox take on understanding Jesus as moral teacher:

"It is significant that the world admires Christ as a moral teacher – for He was not a moral teacher. Christ, the God-Man, was and is the Mediator between God and man, the means by which our distorted selves may be restored and transfigured and all creation set free. That transformation is simply impossible through “moral” effort."

12/13/2010 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To: Grant Maher
Re: "Are body piercings and tattoos morally wrong?"

Tattoos are not morally wrong if their acquisition was bought by personal achievement, sacrifice or love of art. If on the other hand they were procured with cash as a feeble attempt to look "real" and "cool", they merely identify the owner as a fool.

Body piercings can follow this model also. That said, anyone, especially males, that has their nipples pierced is not only morally wrong but clearly has never low crawled under bobbed wire. A pox on their house and breasts. Nipples are off limits.

Note, have you ever seen anyone with tattooed nipples?

The real question should be is circumcision morally justified? The little guy came equipped with a skull cap for a reason. Why skin him? Remember the low crawl rule and add the running through a briar patch naked rule to it to divine the true morality.

12/13/2010 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

I hear what you are saying about tattoos, piercings, and circumcision, TigTog.

The human body is not to be trifled with. It is leased, not owned, by the embodied soul.

God holds the titles at His DMV.

Bob's idea of cohering only around O is compelling.

I would add there are degrees of closeness to "orbit" around O. If you choose a close orbit, then you are wrangling yourself out of a conventional life and into something much different.

The "close to O" orbiter does not desire possessions, does not desire the family and sexual love, does not harbor ambitions, and does not cleave to any doctrine or even seek intellectual knowledge.

She drops everything and melds into a communion state with O.

Socially, we may see that she is very happy, if very poor and not mated.

So closeness to O as an ideal needs some thought. What do you want out of life?

If you want a semi-conventional life yet still put O at the center, then you need to take care to keep some distance or you will, as Kabir alludes to, get sucked over the event horizon.

Your soul will tell you what it needs to do.

12/13/2010 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks Julie :-)

12/13/2010 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Totoro is my favorite summer movie. The first version that came on VHS is better. For some reason when it came to DVD they redid the voices and music..but the quality of the visual is better obviously.

12/13/2010 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

They redid the voices? That's too bad. I only ever saw the VHS version, way back when. I love the dust bunnies.

Here's a good sequence. There's a really nice detail at 1:36, when she looks into the crawlspace under the house. There's a soda bottle there, one of the old style ones that came sealed with a marble. To open the bottle you had to push the marble down into the bottle. It's just one of those odd little things that didn't have to be in there for any particular reason, but its inclusion really helps to set the scene.

12/13/2010 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To: Julie
Re: Movie Symbolism

My wife was telling my son the story of "Its a Beautiful Life". During the retelling, I remembered the imagery of the girder bridge. George sought to become an engineer and build a bridge out of Bedford Falls. He destroys the model girder bridge in his home. The suicide scene with Clarence occurs on the girder bridge in Bedford Falls. It is then revealed to George that his entire life has been one of building bridges for others. He got his wish, but was unaware of it. I had never noticed the bridge as a symbol within the movie before. Quite a nice piece of film making.

12/13/2010 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Tigtog - good point about the bridge symbolism. I've only actually seen that movie once, and not recently, but I finally added it to my wish list this year. Having read so much about the meaning behind it, I'm sure I'll see it more clearly the next time.

12/13/2010 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Thus there is always a hostile, countervailing force that attempts to draw the Center outside of itself -- which indeed is the quintessence of all temptation and of all sin, which involves a vain dissipation of our psychic substance. With no center of gravity or groove of centrality, we have no defense, no way to "repel" the worldly forces that perpetually draw us down and out of ourselves. We "fall" when there is nothing there to hold us fast to the Center.

Conversely, if we abide in the Center, temptations eventually fall away of their own accord. Another way of saying this is that our "force" becomes stronger than the world's force."

No way to repel the forces, except to lean in towards the center. Reminds me of spinning on a merry go round; if you leaned against the rail, the force did it's best to fling you out and away... but if you leaned in towards the center, the force lessened, and the nearer the center you moved, the less power the spinning had over you, and those with the balance and daring to climb a top the center axle, you could stand motionless as your friends spun screaming around you.

12/13/2010 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

The Center can only communicate "Center to center," so to the extent that one has lost or failed to develop it, it will be a case of "God's lights are on but nobody's om."

Apropos, St. Teresa:

Notice that it is not the fountain and the brilliant sun which lose their splendour and beauty, for they are placed in the very centre of the soul and cannot be deprived of their lustre. The soul is like a crystal in the sunshine over which a thick black cloth has been thrown, so that however brightly the sun may shine the crystal can never reflect it.

(Thanks, Magnus!)

12/13/2010 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Now, most garden-variety intellectuals are more or less "weightless," in part because their ideas are rooted in nothing more solid than their own airy abstractions (and usually abstractions that aren't even their own, just the presuppositions of academia). Genuine human maturity occurs when our minds become anchored in the Real. To approach Truth is to converge upon the Center without which Truth could not be (likewise beauty and virtue)."

Very well said.

"To approach Truth is to converge upon the Center without which Truth could not be (likewise beauty and virtue)."

(I'd paste it a few more times, but that might get annoying)

12/13/2010 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

There is also an important "bridge" in Spirited Away.

12/14/2010 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Jesus' newclear center -- at once centripetal and centrifugal -- draws people (and trouble) to him like ants to a picnic."

Speaking of movies as well, we were talking about Gran Torino at Mushroom's place. This "Christus Victor" theory is played out there. Father Barron describes it in this review. Careful, spoiler alert:
Gran Torino

12/14/2010 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"In any event, John the Baptist immediately recognizes the Center (Matt 4:14)."

Interesting too, is that this is the second time John reacts to being in His presence. See Luke 1:41, where John leaps in the womb when the pregnant Mary visits John's mother. Interesting that they are both in the womb, and to compare the before and after "the bridge" of the womb/mother has been crossed, in a sense. And echoes "how" people finally recognize Jesus when he visits them after the resurrection.

12/14/2010 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

we can all agree i hope that prenatal tatooing is a moral No-no

wv
actor

12/14/2010 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

GM says:

"Are body piercings and tattoos morally wrong?"

Let me consult my introverted intuition.

The answer is, at least mostly yes.

Ears don't seem to be much of a problem and earrings look nice on women.

If your tatoo reads "Death and Taxes", perhaps.

12/14/2010 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

ge, I have mixed feelings about your comment.
1. LOL!
2. Don't give 'em any ideas.

12/14/2010 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Re tatoos, I only like the one my dad has and my boss's. They're both exNavy and have the same dark green panther. Neither show them off, in fact they go to some trouble to keep them covered. I think my dad got it just to keep from getting beat up as most of his time was spent in the after engine room of a Navy refueler. And he was only 18. He said he almost lost his arm due to the infection.
Otherwise, they look like doodles to me and the doodlers treated like real artists is silly. Not sure if graffiti is worse (as an art form) but it reminds me of it when I think of it.
Other than that they're awesome.

12/14/2010 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Other than that they're awesome.



:D

12/14/2010 08:23:00 AM  

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