Go Out of Your Mind and Come Back to Your Senses
I used to think that mysticism is to the cosmic interior as science is to its exterior: two methods for two modes of reality. Is this too fossile a banalogy? And do I still fall for it?
"Through all human history," writes Berdyaev, "mysticism has revealed the world of the inner man in contrast to the world of the outward man."
And when we say "world," we mean the whole world, inside and out, upside and down, not just, say, an experience of one's own neurology. No mystic interprets the mystical experience as nothing more than a transient and idiosyncratic episode, but rather, an insight into the whole of reality. This doesn't mean it's true, but it is interesting that the experience is accompanied by certainty of its truth content, as opposed to, say, daydreaming, or hypnosis, or imagination.
Thus, "mystical revelations of the inward man have always taught of man's microcosmic quality," for mystical experience reveals "the cosmos within man, the whole immense universe."
You could even go all Kant and say that this whole I-AMmense universe is just a form of our sensibility. Except that little word: just? The soul of man just happens to conform to the whole of intelligible reality, easily containing everything within its boundaries? This is not a demotion. It's a miracle.
Which is certainly how the most illustrious early scientists understood this freakish ability. We won't rehearse that whole argument, but look at Zack Newton, the icon of genius prior to Einstein. Although materialists naturally want to claim such a singular genius as one of their own (since by definition, geniuses cannot be religious), Newton's ultimate goal was to explicate "such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity."
And according to Professor Wiki, Newton "saw God as the master creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation." In short, one might say that he was an early advocate of the One Cosmos approach of regarding spirit and matter as complementary, but seeing spirit as the more encompassing of the two. Which it obviously must be, since spirit may contain matter, but not vice versa.
However, one can well understand how Newton's ideas were easily co-opted by atheistic types, essentially due to the Unintended Consequences of his Protestantism. That is, the Newtonian system eventually reinforced "the deist position advocated by Leibniz. The understanding of the world was now brought down to the level of simple human reason..."
Which wouldn't necessarily be a disaster, except that -- and we'll have to save this argument for another day -- Protestantism inevitably redounds to scientism, since the latter is simply a more parsimonious version of the former. Once you become your own priest, it's a simple step to being one's own god, and then chucking the ladder entirely.
This is why so many liberals mistakenly regard the American founders as somehow irreligious, since they simply project backward their own infertile sensibilities into the more deistic among them, such as Jefferson. So scientism is deism minus deity, i.e., a completely rationalized world without Reason(er).
And I'm not suggesting that Protestantism is necessarily a "bad thing." As you know, I am not a formal member of any church except for this one. Being deusluxic, I don't have a God in this fight. But it's like any knowledge: once you understand the secrets of the atom, you end up with the atom bomb. Mankind cannot unknow or cover up what it dis-covers. Knowledge has its own momentum, its own necessary implications.
So, the -- or one -- question is, how do we unbreak the eggistenshell after it has suffered its great fall? I don't know. What would Joyce say? Let's see: The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice... that the humptyhillhead of himself sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes.
Wha'? Big help.
Let's just say that for Joyce, Humpty's fall is built into the cosmic system. Youfall, Ifall, we allfall from the ovary tower, which results in some awful offal. Thus, the broken fragments were there in what Protestantism hoped to put back together, just as they are present in Protestantism. The crackup cannot be avoided, for the Fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy.
Back to this morning's mynstrelcism. It seems to me that the mystical experience represents one type of treatment for the wounds inflicted by existence, for it "is in profound contrast to every kind of closed-in individualism, isolated from cosmic life."
In other words, as we have been saying, individualism is, or can be, interpreted as a rebellion against the group, so here again there is built-in fragmentation. So, how do we restore our oneness?
Well, I give up. Too noisy in here. Eck! I'll leave you with this bit of healthy meistercism:
Mystical submersion... always means going out of oneself, a breaking-through beyond the boundaries. All mysticism teaches that the depths of man are more than human, that in them lurks a mysterious contact with God and with the world. --Berdyaev