Our lives are bracketed by... by what? Well, looked at temporally we could say conception and death; or perhaps ensoulment and discarnation. In space we are bracketed by the skin-boundary container, but not really, given the realities of language and intersubjectivity, through which we are thoroughly entangled with the world and with others.
Also, since time is a function of eternity and locality a special instance of nonlocality, it seems to me that we are always involved with that which surpasses us, both in space and time.
What do I mean by this? Well, religion, for example, is the "science of the eternal," so to speak, and provides efficacious means of communing with That which transcends our spatial and temporal bounds. Obviously no other animal has this privilege. Animals have no need of religion, since they have no intuition of its object, its sufficient reason. In contrast, even the most premature premodern man looked upon the world as a landscape of infinite immensity bounded by legends (Perry).
To paraphrase Schuon, instinct is the animal's intelligence, while intellection is our instinct. Intellect is "At once mirror of the supra-sensible and itself a supernatural ray of light." Only like may know like, so the world may be thought of as crystalized truth, while knowledge is its fluidic correlate. And both may be traced back up to their pre-bifurcated source in the One being.
The point is, a functional human being is never bracketed or contained by profane time and space. Rather, as Perry writes, we always understand these terms in relation to an "absolute beginning and absolute end," which is to say, Creation and Judgment, the one implying the other.
Perry further relates these to loyalty and faith, respectively. In other words, "the root of man's integral happiness" involves both "loyalty on earth to a divine origin," and "faith in a saving mercy at the end." In between our lives are woven by the play of contingency and co-creation. I'm guessing that judgment applies only to what we create, whereas the fact of contingency requires a degree of slackful mercy, or merciful slack.
Let's get further into this question of boundaries and brackets. "In pneumatology," writes Perry, "the ideas of Origin, Center, Goal, and Objectivity" represent the "sacred structural framework" for understanding man -- both his existence and, more importantly, his purpose, or end. It should go without saying that man can have no purpose in the absence of these metacosmic orientations; again, it is either God or nihilism, O or Ø.
We all have a local, egoic center (•) that ultimately links to a divine and nonlocal center, ʘ. These two are obviously not on the same "plane," as the former is a declension from the latter; it is in a "lower dimension," so to speak, like moving from a sphere to a circle, or circle to point, with a kind of "divine rope" in between. The fact of the higher center "means we can live partially outside the world and outside of time, and, as it were, with one foot in paradise" (Perry).
Or, in the words of Schuon, "The spiritual man is not completely here, nor completely there, he is neither before nor afterwards, he is always in the Center and in the blessed Now of God."
Or, in the words of Don Colacho, "Only God [O] and the central point of my consciousness [ʘ] are not accidental to me."
Through this higher center, we need to somehow bear in mind -- or live close to, or be in communion with -- our Origin. This falls under the heading of "vertical recollection," hence our need for daily verticalisthenics, whatever your particular practice (e.g., prayer, meditation, lectio divina, etc.). As Perry explains, "our awareness of a divine Origin serves to remind us of our essence and guides us therefore to not live beneath ourselves."
At the other end is, well, our End. Yes, we are always stalked by death, and if death is all there is, then this results in honest existentialism (or nihilism). But as alluded to above, beyond death is Judgment, because freedom is real. Thus, "our awareness of a divine End guides us in truthfulness and sincerity as well as in generosity..."
I am reminded of a passage from the Isha Upanishad that is supposed to be read at the moment of death, and is said to be employed in funeral rites: Let my life now merge in the all-pervading life. Ashes are my body's end. OM... O mind, remember Brahman. O mind, remember thy past deeds. Remember Brahman. Remember thy past deeds.... Thou knowest our deeds. Preserve us from the deceitful attraction of sin...
Which brings to mind another passage -- or rather, vice verse, since I was thinking of the Upanishads when I wrote it -- this one from the Cosmobliteration section of the Encirclopedia: O Death, you old mahahasamadhi.... Take us before and beyond this womentary maninfestation, reveal not the horizontal but our inmost upmost vertical bigending.
You see? I think it's actually as clear as obscurity can be. It incorporates just about everything discussed in this post, only in a compact and holofractal manner.
Now interestingly, it is possible to find "contentment" on a plane lower than the one we were meant to inhabit. But in order to pull this off, you have to essentially kill, or at least become insensible to, the higher self and all its needs. Which is why it is difficult for me to relate to my so-called profession of clinical psychology. Yeah, I can do it, but mostly by limiting myself to (•) and ignoring ʘ. But the younger I get, the more artificial this seems.
In order to escape from this prison, one must learn not to come to an arrangement with its indisputable comforts. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms
I wish there were a field called, I don't know, "clinical pneumatology." Then again, as soon as you professionalize something, you sow the seeds of its ruin. And "amateur" comes from the Latin amator or Lover. Which is why the OC mysthead includes the crack about Much Amor!
So, I guess that's the end for now, but there'll be much amor tomorrow.