Why Give an Enema to a Dead Atheist?
Although Symeon lived around the time of Y1K, his theology still strikes me as new and improved. He is responsible for drawing the critical distinction between God's essence and energies, only the latter of which are communicated to, and accessible by, human beings.
And when you think about it, this is no different than it is for any other "person," for no matter how close one is to another, one can never directly know their essence, only its appearance and effects.
Naturally we don't think about this when it is occurring, but meaningful speech, for example, involves the transformation of one's essence into air vibrations projected from the respiratory system, causing resonance in some tiny bones located in two holes in another person's head, in the hope that the vibrations will be reassembled into a facsimile of the original "thought," and all it implies.
It's rather remarkable that it works at all, although we generally treat it as exceptional when someone doesn't understand. That our trolls do not understand us is clear enough. But why should they? My energies are reassembled in their heads into something that doesn't resemble the original experience -- O -- with which they proceed to "disagree," and even "attack." I'm not sure how this differs from masturbation.
Importantly, even when successful communication occurs, it doesn't mean that there has been any "mixture" of essences. Thus, as it pertains to God, or O, Symeon provides a model in which there is "a true participation in the divine nature, yet without mixture or union of essences" (Matus). You are still you and God is still God, and yet, there is an intimate communion. Indeed, communion is only possible in a context of difference: two is only possible because of One.
Having said that, it is also true that divine knowledge couldn't be communicated at all in the absence of something inside us that "awaits" and is conformed to it, so to speak. To use a horizontal analogy, the infant is born "awaiting" the breast; there exists a preconception of its later fulfillment by experience. The same is true of any archetype. We are not "blank slates," but come into the world ready to learn, but not just anything.
I might add that one of the insurmountable problems of leftism is that it not only denies our archetypal nature, but tries to superimpose a psychic scaffolding of its own pseudo-archetypes and "values."
Nowhere was this more obvious than in the French Revolution, but now they try to do the same thing in slightly less clumsy ways. In France they abolished the old holy-days and created new ones. They also invented a new calendar that began in 1789, consciously suggesting that nothing prior to that was of any value, but unconsciously equating the Incarnation and the Revolution: man is now God, rather than vice versa.
Regarding our "pre-knowledge" of God, Schuon says that it is analogous to "a divine seed in the heart," with the result that our thoughts are "only very faint glimmers from it." These preconceptual seeds are "an imprint of the divine Light on human darkness," which is why we may "understand" revelation and scripture, precisely.
In the absence of the divine seed, theology -- and the experiences it is anchored in -- would be just as absurd as cognitively crippled atheists make it out to be.
Which is why, in the words of Schuon, "To prove the Absolute is, according to the intellectual conditions of the environment, either the easiest or the most difficult of things."
To be sure, not all atheists are clinically autistic, for there is usually a transparent element of "willfulness" rooted in ambivalence toward someone from the past (i.e., an internal object), and which causes them to narcissistically overvalue the ephemeral cognitive flatulence of a monkey brain that can have no value whatsoever in the absence of the absolute they deny up front. This is why talking to them is so often like trying to put a round peg into an assoul.
Remember what was said above about the transformation of experience to thought, to sound vibrations, and eventually back to thought and experience. Schuon writes that certain men of a "rationalizing disposition are ever haunted by thoughts" (emphasis mine).
Such a person is naturally plagued and even defined by doubt, since there is no thought that cannot be contradicted by another. Thus, these cynics do not perceive "the realities of which [traditional ] doctrines treat" and end up objectivizing "their own limitations," at which point they are granted tenure. And then they accuse us of worshipping a god we have created!
But in reality, "a metaphysical doctrine is the incarnation in the mind of a universal truth." Right? If that weren't the case, then there would be no way to prove anything. Which is why, prior to actualizing this or that seed, a kind of cultivation of the soil is necessary; one must "awaken the intellectual faculty in oneself," and not just superimpose a man-made formulation upon realities that are not explained by, but rather, explain, reason itself.
Note also what becomes of those seeds that are planted only by man. If we are lucky, they come to nothing, or we can pull their shoots from our garden before they take over. These are no more "natural" than some unwanted plant that takes over a field that has been over-cultivated. Soon the field is filled with weeds that are not indigenous to the soil.
This is what the leftist educational establishment does to the fertile souls of innocent children, and it is a perfectly wicked thing to do. It is no wonder they embrace the enfeebled philosophies they do, for their only hope is that God is not just. (Today's example.)
Back to St. Symeon. What makes him so provocative is that he is not dealing in concepts but in experience. While he naturally must deploy symbols to convey the experience, one must transform the symbols back to experience, not just thought per se. This is what makes him the "new theologian," since the "old theologian" deals in concepts but not the experience beneath them. Thus, there are plenty of old theologians walking around. Probably most theologians are of that type, at least as far as I can tell.
Schuon said another helpful thing regarding this problem. That is, "to live in thoughts is continually to replace one set of concepts by another." As a result, these concepts "are worn threadbare without any possibility of their being replaced, on this level, by something better."
This is another way of saying that they become saturated without ever even "fulfilling" us. It is like filling up on some space-filling but nutritionally empty food.
Conversely, the experiential and trans-conceptual food of divine revelation is both nutritious and filling, but not only that. It is also generative, radiant, and compellingly alive. But how could one ever transmit this "aliveness" via sound vibrations, especially if the soul on the other end is more or less "dead" by cluelesside?
Reminds me of the only joke my Jewish bubby-in-law, Hannah, ever told. It had to do with an argument over giving an enema to a dead man. I just remember the punchline: "It can't hurt."