Journey to the Center of the Person
This second cosmos is somehow "within" the existing one, and yet, transcendent of it. Thus, in his own way, man has a similar relationship to the cosmos as does God, i.e., both immanent and transcendent. Which is what it means to be a mirrorcle of the absolute, i.e., microcosmos, and why nothing short of the absolute quenches man's innate thirst for absoluteness.
As Schuon writes, "One of the keys to understanding our true nature and ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world are never proportionate to the actual range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing."
Now this vast and protean cosmic interior is bound up with the universal Quest. Obviously no material object embarks upon a quest to discover its origins and destiny, nor does a dog give a hoot about where it came from so long as it is fed, watered, and walked. And yet, if one is a strict materialist, man's quest would have to be considered utterly quixotic and as doomed from the start as that of any other dog.
Yes, a houndfool of auto-condemned souls conclude that human existence is absurd, and leave it at that (even fewer can actually consistently live in such a desiccated fantasy world without constantly barking at the ghosts they deny). But man is not built this way, and it goes against human nature to imagine and project an absurd cosmos. Rather, meaning is everywhere and at every level of existence.
That being the case, it shouldn't be a surprise that existence is ultimately meaningful. Indeed, to say that meaning is everywhere except in the whole is analogous to affirming that every part of an object is white, but that the object itself is black, like Obama.
So everyone has a story, a story that confers meaning upon the person who tells it. And if this story gets you through the night, hey, who are we to argue? Just don't try to impose your father's gin-soaked dreams on the rest of us, okay?
Purcell's From Big Bang to Big Mystery is his own story, his own attempt to situate himself within our 13.85 billion year cosmodrama. As it so happens, this is impossible to do without recourse to thousands of other cosmodramas.
In fact, this is one of the most baleful effects of living in any kind of totalitarian regime: that only one drama is permitted, e.g., the drama of Darwinism, or of scientism, or of Marxism, or of White Oppression. Yes, you are "free" to discover your life's meaning, so long as it is approved by the state and doesn't cramp its lebensraum.
"Mass education" is a key to facilitating the kind of concentrated power lusted after by the left, for if everyone thinks the same way -- lives in the same narrative bubble -- this makes their job a lot easier. "Thought," such as it is, runs in only one direction, converging upon the almighty state. There is a reason why so many of the wealthiest zip codes in the land encircle D.C.
Conversely, a liberal education is anathema to the state-media narrative of the left, because people might discover a meaning that clashes with state interests. Thus, for the state to "allow" school vouchers is as likely as the IRS operating on the honor system. Without coercion -- whether intellectual or economic -- there is no left. One cannot claim to be "against bullying" while sending money to the DNC.
One of the keys to life is discovering the useful narratives. One might even say that this is the ultimate purpose of an education. How can it be that one can complete thirteen or seventeen or nineteen or twenty-four years of education without having encountered a multitude of these? That was me: after twenty-four years of schooling and one Ph.D., I was pretty much just starting out. But at least they put me on the dayshift.
Purcell writes that as he embarked upon his quest to explore the inner dimension of the cosmos (i.e., humanness), he discovered "a thousand and one mirror quests" in "the multiplicity and variety of quests of other individuals and cultures" down through the ages.
What this means is that, as we set out on our quest, our primary data is not the world per se. In other words, none of us starts from scratch. At the very least we are given a language, a culture, a tradition, a particular family, etc. But for the person who wants to go beyond the given, our data includes the "quests" of a multitude of others, separated in time and space by hundreds of years and thousands of miles. Man is a temporal mountain range containing many peeks behind the veil.
This is a key point raised by Chesterton in his Orthodoxy. That is, mankind is one, not just in space but in time. By no means are we permitted to consider the dead as mere links to us -- as if their only purpose was to serve as stepping stones to something better. If one is an evolutionist, that is the inescapable conclusion: nothing simply "is," but is always on the way to something else. Including the evolutionist.
But just as it is immoral to treat a living person as a means and not an end, treating past generations as means robs them of their dignity as persons: "If we don't respect those who have gone before us, who will respect us when we are gone?" This is why no one in the future will respect, say, Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. They will be tossed on the same rubbish heap as the persons they denigrated and disrespected in life. Except those folks won't be there. D'oh! What dreadful company.
For Purcell, "meditative re-enactment of the expressions of the quests of others, animates our existence with a heightened sense of the worth of human existence -- our own and others -- and grounds a sense of human family that is universal across space and time." Another word for this is tradition, which is essentially the temporal prolongation and iteration of an essential truth.