Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Remember Me to the One Who Lives There

I notice that the Anchoress put up a video that touches on some of the same themes we've been discussing vis-a-vis the the harmonic resonance between Genesis and John.

So anyway, it comes to pass that when Jesus is given the news that Lazarus is sick (John 11:3), he responds in that typically confident but paradoxable way of his, to the effect that Lazarus' illness is "not a sickness unto death" but "for the glory of God." Jesus then cools his heels "in the place where he was" for a couple of days, and seemingly forgets all about Lazarus.

After that, Jesus makes another curious comment about how there are twelve hours in the day, and how easy it is to walk around by daylight without stumbling, but "if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."

Hmmm. Okay.

Note that immediately after this cryptic comment about stumbling at night, Jesus abruptly decides to pick up and visit Lazarus, "who sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." Then there is some confusion among the disciples about the meaning of Jesus' statement. Finally, Jesus says words to the effect of, "Get a clue, people. Don't be so literal. When I said 'asleep' I meant 'dead.'"

All of the themes we've been discussing are present: day, night, sleeping, waking, forgetting, darkness, light, walking, stumbling, sickness, death. What's going on here?

Tomberg recalls that in the case of the healing of the nobleman's son, Jesus' physical proximity was not required. Rather, it was accompliced through the nonlocal intermediary of the father's faith.

But in this instance, the pattern is entirely different. That is, rather than immediately healing Lazarus at a distance, he lets him go. He "forgets" about him for two days, banishing him from consciousness. Lazarus is not only gone but forgotten. Or is he gone because forgotten?

Then another curious statement, this one by Thomas, a fascinating character in his own right, who says, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." The "him" is ambiguous, but Tomberg feels that it is actually in reference to Lazarus, not Jesus; that is, "Let us share the fate of Lazarus, since it is the will of the Master -- that which can only intend the highest good."

Now, is Thomas suggesting that they all commit suicide? No, that makes no sense. Rather, he is talking about committing cluelesscide, i.e., "let us put put ourselves into the inner situation of Lazarus, identify ourselves with his path of destiny, so that we also may die."

Death represents the culmination or boundary of horizontal existence. As such, Lazarus represents pure verticality, detached from the world of sickness, suffering, and toil. In Buddhism, there is a concept that is similar to divine incarnation, that is, the bodhisattva principle. A bodhisattva voluntarily renounces his verticality for horizontality, willingly taking on the suffering of existence until all beings have achieved liberation.

Christianity takes this principle to its translogical extreme, in that Jesus may be thought of as the ultimate bodhisattva, giving up an endowed chair in the Department of Trinitarian Studies in order to take his place with the struggling creatures below.

If death is the foreclosing of the horizontal for the vertical, this is the opposite, the renunciation of the vertical for the horizontal. And as Tomberg says, "there is no greater love than that of the sacrifice of eternity for the limitations of existence in the transient moment" -- and which is why, in the words of Petey, we are grateful for this undertaking of mortality, for our daily lessons in evanescence, for this manifestivus for the rest of us.

"Christian yoga," if we may call it such ("my yoka's easy"), is a strict balance between verticality and horizontality. One does not renounce the horizontal world. But nor does one cling to it as if it were the ultimate reality. Rather, one must always be in the horizontal but not of the horizontal. Excessive entanglement in the horizontal entails one kind of sleep, forgetting, and death; giving it up entirely for the vertical represents another kind: Lazarus' kind.

Shankara refers to horizontal men -- those flatlanders who are dead to the vertical -- as “suicides” who “clutch at the unreal and destroy themselves. What greater fool can there be than the man who has obtained this rare human birth... and yet fails, through delusion, to realize his own highest good? Know that the deluded man who walks the dreadful path of sense-craving moves nearer to his ruin with every step.”

Similarly, the Upanishads say that “Rare is he who, looking for immortality, shuts his eyes to what is without and beholds the Self. Fools follow the desires of the flesh and fall into the snare of all-encompassing death.... Worlds there are without suns, covered up with darkness. To these after death go the ignorant, slayers of the Self.”

In other words, pure horizontality entails not just the end of verticality, but the death of the Self -- or banishment to a world without the central Sun (of which our sun is only a symbol), "covered in darkness."

Let's refer back to Jesus' cryptic words in John 11:10, that "if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." Note that one does not stumble because of an absence of external light, but because there is no interior light: the light is not in him.

I find it interesting that Thomas is the disciple who supposedly evangelized India. Naturally, this would have been known when the gospels were written. But when Thomas says, "Let us also go, that we may die with Lazarus," he is saying something rather suggestive.

Let's set aside the literal meaning for the moment, and interpret it to convey something like, "let us all die to the world and go entirely vertical, like one of those Upanishadic seers so that we too may be reborn 'for the glory of God, that the son of God may be glorified through our rebirth' (referring again to John 11:4). Let's be his glowdisciples and bring the vertical Light into the horizontal darkness that the latter doesn't comprehend!" (Also interesting that Jesus mentions there being "twelve hours in the day," which suggests to me that there shall be "twelve evangelists in the Light.")

Now, since we are dealing with principial truth, it is surely no coincidence that the Isha Upanishad warns that "To darkness are they doomed who devote themselves only to life in the world, and to a greater darkness they who devote themselves only to meditation.”

Rather, “Those who combine action and meditation cross the sea of death through action and enter immortality” -- that is, through the sacred union of soul and body, spirit and matter, vertical and horizontal, wave and particle, infinite and absolute, truth and beauty, music and geometry, male and female, (↑) and (↓).

I am reminded of a long dead and little remumbled post about those coal miners in West Virginia who were buried alive. Facing death, one of the miners left us with these words:

Tell all --
I see them on the other side
It wasn't bad
I just went to sleep
I love you

It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep
.

Lazarus, March Fourth!

19 Comments:

Blogger Tigtog said...

To: Gagdad
Re: "I just fell asleep"

Touche.

Strange WV: hedruns

12/21/2010 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Some days, these posts are positively eerie. In a good way, of course, but still... wOw!

12/21/2010 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

A fitting day, symbolically speaking, for this post.

"Tell all --
I see them on the other side
It wasn't bad
I just went to sleep
I love you"

It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep."

No doubt a suckular humanist with scientistic proclivities would scoff at such wise words and would become literally rabid at the idea of anything beyond his/her horizontal coffin box.

This post OTOH, points to outside of that box. Not bad indeed. In truth, it is good.

12/21/2010 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"John 11:10, that "if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.""

How the strict literalist reads that without stumbling, I cannot imagine.

12/21/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

With "Now, since we are dealing with principial truth, it is surely no coincidence that the Isha Upanishad warns that "To darkness are they doomed who devote themselves only to life in the world, and to a greater darkness they who devote themselves only to meditation.” "
and,
John 11:10, that "if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
,and,
"(Also interesting that Jesus mentions there being "twelve hours in the day," which suggests to me that there shall be "twelve evangelists in the Light.")"

It seems that there are the twelve hours of the day, of the apostles, and months of the Year ("being the high priest that same year...") fortelling of the light in the dei and the light that is not in them, and pardon my mixing my meta-fore's, but the importance of filling,
"... the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!"


... and if you do not, at the end of John,

"48-If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

49-And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,

50-Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

51-And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

52-And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

53-Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. "


There's quite a tale fixing to be told there as well.

12/21/2010 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

All of the themes we've been discussing are present: day, night, sleeping, waking, forgetting, darkness, light, walking, stumbling, sickness, death. What's going on here?"

Sounds like Skully after a weekend binge. Except instead of death he calls it "death warmed over."

12/21/2010 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

To continue that theme, have a look at the picture of the Lunar eclipse over the Washington Monument this morning, the darkest day in 372 years - what better date could there possibly be for the FCC to impose Net Neutrality - Patriotic Anti-Americanism?

We ain't seen nothing yet... but we might.

12/21/2010 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

This post coincides nicely with my current read: Robert Johnson's "Between Heaven and Earth"! A quote: "I have thrown the word 'spirituality' out of my vocabulary because it seems to imply abandoning the earthly dimension. I have little patience with people who say they are on the spiritual path, because almost invariably they are trying to advance the vertical (lofty, unearthly) part of their lives at the expense of the horizontal (earthy, human) dimensions of their being. As such, it is a heresy. Spirituality as something other than that midpoint is heresy. Anything that has an opposite is inadequate and quickly throws you into heresy."

He goes on to recount a story about St. Teresa . . . she never had a rapture while cooking and she never burnt a meal. Seems we were given an appetite so as to nourish all ourselves.

12/21/2010 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...the "him" is ambiguous, but Tomberg feels that it is actually in reference to Lazarus, not Jesus; that is, "Let us share the fate of Lazarus, since it is the will of the Master -- that which can only intend the highest good."

I always took it the other way, but I never understood why it invariably makes me cry to read it aloud. Maybe now I do.

12/21/2010 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To: Miss Ezz
Re: "I have little patience with people who say they are on the spiritual path, because almost invariably they are trying to advance the vertical (lofty, unearthly) part of their lives at the expense of the horizontal (earthy, human) dimensions of their being. As such, it is a heresy. Spirituality as something other than that midpoint is heresy. Anything that has an opposite is inadequate and quickly throws you into heresy." "

It would seem you have hard feelings towards dualism of any sort. Given your position how do you feel about celibate priests/nuns and monks? I have been reading lately on the "heresies" and noticed a big change in the Catholic church due to their crusades with heretics. It would seem the heretics changed the Catholics as much as the Catholics changed (or extinguished) the heretics.

12/21/2010 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

Tigtog: That was a quote from Johnson's book. That being said, my own feeling is there are many splendid threads offered for course correction, while walking the razor's edge, both to the individual, as well as, the Church.

12/21/2010 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

This post is a fine piece of scholarship.

You would make an outstanding professor; I would put you to work in a graduate level class titled "Advanced Philosophy of Religion"

I would enroll in the class and attend every lecture.

To add to the debate on vertical versus horizontal, I would say sex is in the crosshairs, so to speak.

Sex can perturb the spiritual life like nothing else. Mastery of sex via celibacy or marriage is the mark of the accomplished aspirant.

The playboy, the debutante, the cougar, the perverted, the secret lover, the fetishist, the unfaithful and the uncommitted, are all caught in this vortex. My sincere compassion goes out to them who navigate this minefield without a compass. It is the dark place where stumbles have the worst consequences.

12/21/2010 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To: Grant Maher
Re: "The playboy, the debutante, the cougar, the perverted, the secret lover, the fetishist, the unfaithful and the uncommitted, are all caught in this vortex."

Don't necessarily disagree, but would it not have BEEN shorter to say those who are imprisoned by their promiscuity? Generally speaking this describes the homosexual community to tea. Not that there is anything wrong with it.

12/21/2010 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Then again...

Really shows how personal and familial psychosexual pathology affects collective pathology. Isn't multiculturalism wonderful!

12/21/2010 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Frontline did a very good - well, horrifying, actually - documentary about the dancing boys. If memory serves, the trend had started to die out until the Taliban took control.

12/21/2010 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Interesting about the dancing boys. If you read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence makes the point that such "foibles" were preferable among his Arab Muslims as well.

...our youth began indifferently to slake one another's few needs with their own clean bodies -- a cold convenience that, by comparison, seemed sexless and even pure.

T.E. Lawrence, for those who don't know, was a very, very strange dude.

12/21/2010 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

saw part of my first Sarah Palin show last night, and had the pleasantest dreams with her there as friend
[while everyone else in present household --hooked-on-tv drones-- scoff at & hate her]

12/22/2010 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I don't even know what day it is.. but I think this is still the one about Lazarus. It still feels like Tuesday to me.
Anywise, could it be with the nobleman and his son that "it" would only work if Jesus did not go.
Maybe same with Lazarus, in that if Jesus went before he died (to the world), and nothing less than that, then "it" would not "take".
Inotherworlds, think of it from the perspective of Lazarus. Did he need to "die" to the world first, to "know" it. Which is to say, believe. And from the perspective of the world (the people around him) must believe he is dead? Or at least that which is making him dead.

It brings to mind the prodigal son. In such cases, does the son need to find himself "with the pigs" before he "will" return for reals.
I wonder if those pigs are the same ones that run off the cliff with legion. Or is it into the sea.

12/22/2010 04:37:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

PB16 addressed the topic of pedophilia in his Christmas Address to the Roman Curia here.

12/22/2010 06:58:00 AM  

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