An Angel Speaks on the Record
Today we shall begin our discussion of temperance, which probably sounds like a boring aracanum, but it's not. For it is the card of "integrated duality," which is actually rather thrilling, since it accounts for most of the action on the vertical plane. Call it "interior action."
To exist is to live amidst polarity and tension, the ultimate tension being the distance between image and likeness. It is this that creates the dynamic potential to transcend ourselves and "become what we are." The closing of this gap is the objective measure of your life. And if not for this "psychic third" that draws us beyond (and toward) ourselves, our lives really would be a vicious and inescapable duality. Coming down on one side or the other would essentially be arbitrary, plus there would be no way to move past it.
As UF explains, the image represents our essential structure, while likeness represents the functional structure; the former is "timeless," while the latter can only be deployed in time. The image is indestructible and responsible for our freedom, since it is a spark of the Absolute.
But the immortality of the likeness is "optional," so to speak, in that "it is immortal only in proportion to the measure that it conforms to its image." For a variety of reasons, many people choose Death. But to paraphrase the outlaw Josey Wales, "dyin' ain't much of a living," for it is analogous to choosing prison for the image while imagining that the likeness roams free. But this results only in freedom for the me but not the I -- the object and not the true subject.
UF then goes into an extended meditation on the metaphysics of angels, which, in the overall scheme of things, might be thought of as personifications of (↑) and (↓); in other words, they are "vertical emissaries," so to speak. Rabbi Steinsaltz's classic Thirteen Petalled Rose contains one of the most clear and concise explanations of angelology I've ever found, and it is very much compatible with what UF has to say. In fact, here is something I wrote about it four years ago:
"Steinsaltz notes that the soul [read: image] should not be thought of as a 'point' in space time. Rather, it is 'a continuous line of spiritual being, stretching from the general source of all the souls [O] to beyond the specific body of a particular person.... and because the soul is not a single point in space, it should be viewed not as a single existence having one quality or character, but as many existences, on a variety of spiritual levels...'
In the past, I have playgiarized with Alan Watts' analogy of a lampshade with many pinprick holes in it. From the outside it will look as if there are many "local" individual lights, but in reality, they are all coming from a single nonlocal source.
In another way, it's analogous to progressive bifocals, which change the focal point depending upon where you point your eyes. Look up through the bottom, and things that are near become out of focus; look down through the top, and the distant becomes blurry. So many errors of scientism result from looking through the wrong end of the bifocals. And they've never even heard of trifocals.
Steinsaltz discusses the distinction between the vertical and horizontal, which for me is the essence of any spiritual metaphysic. Obviously, in speaking of the vertical, of the qualitatively higher and lower, he is not speaking of an actual physical location. Vertically speaking, "to call a world higher signifies that it is more primary, more basic in terms of being close to a primal source of influence; while a lower world would be a secondary world -- in a sense, a copy."
Thus, viewed horizontally, we may trace the material cosmos back to a primordial event some 13.7 billion years ago. But this is only a horizontal explanation. Traditional metaphysics deals with the vertical causation of the cosmos, which is what confuses some people.
From the vertical perspective, this world is indeed a copy, as are human beings, of a divine prototype. The Logos might be thought of as the model of all things, the nexus between the divine mind above and the creation here below. Looked at in this manner, the inexplicable beauty of the world is not somehow the outcome of horizontal cause and effect, which would be a ridiculous assertion. Rather Beauty is a fundamental cause of the cosmos (among other nonlocal causes, such as Love and Truth).
Because of the ubiquitous vertical and horizontal influences, every aspect of human existence is made up of both matter and spirit, of form and essence. While we are fundamentally spiritual, we are unavoidably material, which sets up a host of interesting tensions and conflicts. The fall -- or exile, if you like -- is indeed a vertical one, a declension from the divine repose of celestial peace, down to this world of toil, conflict, uncertainty and ambiguity.
Steinsaltz writes that an angel is simply a "messenger" constituting a point of contact "between our world of action and the higher worlds. The angel is the one who effects transfers of the vital plenty between worlds. An angel's missions go in two directions: it may serve as an emissary of God downward..., and it may also serve as the one who carries things upwards from below, from our world to the higher worlds."
I ran it by Petey, but he was, I don't know, noncommittal. But that's not unusual. It's more like he's disinterested, or at least pretends to be. The roll of the eyes, the impatient, audible exhalation, the way his little wings flutter, as if he's got something better to do....
I just searched the blog, and found some more interesting material. At least it is for me. You'll have to bear with me, because often it's as if I'm reading these things for the first time. Oh wait. I am reading it for the first time. Petey himself wrote this one a couple of years ago. Of himself, he wrote that:
"I'm here, but I'm not here. How to explain.... I'm always here in the same sense that all 200 or whatever it is crappy TV stations are always streaming into your house. They're what we might call 'implicate.' But you can only tap into one station at a time -- assuming you don't have picture-in-picture, which is a little like schizophrenia -- thereby making the implicate explicate.
"The multidimensional implicate order is anterior to the explicate order, so that what you folks call 'consensus reality' is more of a mutual agreement to limit the implicate order in a certain way. It's all about managing your existential anxiety, not getting at the Truth. If you want to get at the Truth, you're going to have to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing, not make the anxiety go away with some stupid scientistic-materialistic nonsense.
"You know the old crack -- 'if the doors of perception were cleansed, then everything would appear as it is, infinite.' It is such a childish conceit for humans to imagine their puny minds can encompass the generative reality that generatively encompasses them!
"Yes, there are higher and lower worlds. I guess this isn't obvious to a leftist, but if any of you saw some of those OWS encampments, you know all about people who inhabit a lower world. Their language, their music, their feelings, their hygiene, their childish world view -- all emanate from a lower world. Ironically, most of them aren't even from the earth plane, but a notch or two below that.
"The point I'm making is that the words high and low refer only to the place of any particular world on the ladder of causality. 'To call a world higher signifies that it is more primary, more basic in terms of being close to a primal source of influence; while a lower world would be a secondary world -- in a sense, a copy. Yet the copy is not just an imitation but rather a whole system, with a more or less independent life of its own, its own variety of experience, characteristics and properties.' [I think that quote might be from Steinsaltz]
"This is why the flatlanders can become so enclosed in their absurcular delusions. In a way, their worldview is complete (on its own level), and yet, it's radically incomplete (with regard to the whole).
"I remember sketching this out with ironyclad logic to Gödel. I say 'irony,' because his ideas have been lowjoked by the psycho-spiritual left to suggest that we cannot make absolute statements about reality, when Gödel and I were making the opposite point about the limitations of logic to express things we damn well know to be true. One such point is that things aren't true because they're logical but logical because they're true. Duh!
"If you have stayed with me this far, then you will understand that, just as there are evil beings, there are evil worlds. These are simply the 'space' inhabited by the evil beings. Wisdom too is a space, or 'mansion.' Also creativity, love, beauty, peace. You can sense it when you enter one of these mansions. You can also sense it when you are near one of those haunted mansions where the darklings reside, or in one of the simplistic McMansions of the left.
"Enough malevolent wishes and wicked deeds, and pretty soon you have created a closed world, cut off from the divine influence. As Steinsaltz describes it, 'the sinner is punished by the closing of the circle, by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates.... as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of the soul.... as the evil flourishes and spreads over the world because of the deeds of men, these destructive angels become increasingly independent existences, making up a whole realm that feeds on and fattens on evil.'
"Being that I was once an ordinary embodied and enmentalled man just like you prior to the farming accident, I feel that I am fit to pronounce on these subjects. Human beings live in a world of physical 'action,' and imagine that this is where all the action is. Not true.
"Allow me to explain. Or better yet, allow Steinsaltz to explain: 'The lower part of the world of action is what is known as as the "world of physical nature" and of more or less mechanical processes -- that is to say, the world where natural law prevails; while above this world of physical nature is another part of the same world which we may call the "world of spiritual action."
"What these two realms have in common is the action of Man, since 'the human creature is so situated between them that he partakes of both. As part of the physical system of the universe, man is subordinate to the physical, chemical, and biological laws of nature; while from the standpoint of his consciousness, even while this consciousness is totally occupied with matters of a lower order, man belongs to the spiritual world, the world of ideas.... Every aspect of human existence is therefore made up of both matter and spirit.'
"It is my nature to be a 'messenger, to constitute a permanent contact between [your] world of action and the higher worlds. The angel is the one who effects transfers of the vital plenty between worlds.'
"'An angel's missions go in two directions: it may serve as an emissary of God downward, to other angels and to creatures below the world of formation; and it may also serve as the one who carries things upwards from below, from our world to the higher worlds' (Steinsaltz). You might call us the transpersonal postal service for prayers and the like.
"Just to make it clear, it was not I who prompted Bob to steal the Las Vegas Holiday Inn flag back in 1980. For there are 'subversive angels' that are actually created by the thoughts and actions of men. I believe Bob calls them 'mind parasites.' They are contingent objectifications from various vital-emotional domains. Up here we sometimes call them the 'tempters.' Either that, or the 'mesmerers.' The Holiday Inn incident was a fine example of a tempter tantrum fueled by what we call 'liquid courage.'
"It would be wrong to conclude on the basis of what I have just said that the difference between you and I is that you have a body and I don't. Rather, 'the soul of man is most complex and includes a whole world of different existential elements of all kinds, while the angel is a being of a single essence and therefore in a sense one-dimensional' (Steinsaltz). This is why you and I play such different roles in the cosmic economy. You actually have the tougher job, which is to say, because of your 'many-sidedness' and your 'capacity to to contain contradictions,' this makes it possible for you to 'rise to great heights,' but also to fuck up big time, neither of which is true for me. Rather, the angel is 'eternally the same; it is static, an unchanging existence,' 'fixed within rigid limits.''
"You might say that I am already 'whole' in space, whereas it is your vocation to become whole in time. Not easy, I realize.
"Lastly, another way of saying it is that I do not evolve, but you can and must. In ether worlds, there is no evolution here in the vertical, only in the horizontal. In the absence of the horizontal, it's frankly a little boring here -- or as Bob (with more than a little assistance from yours truly) put it in the bʘʘk,
Only himsoph with nowhere to bewrong, hovering over the waters without a kenosis. Vishnu were here, but just His lux, God only knows only God, and frankly, ishwara monotheotenous -- no one beside him, no nous, same old shunyada yada yada.