Jews, Clues, and Good News
Which is what now? It is the idea of "divine withdrawal" in order to create a space for existence, including human freedom. I have no particular attachment to the word, but the underlying principle seems sound -- or at least it is answering a valid question, the question of God's absence.
God is obviously absent in some sense, or at least not present in the same way other things are. How to account for this if God is by definition omnipresent? And why do we need revelation if there is nothing concealed?
I'm just going to rifle through Honey From the Rock to look for clues. My recollection is that Kushner is very similar to Eckhart, and therefore resonates with Raccoon orthoparadoxy.
For example, -- and this is not a tautology -- "The first mystery is that there is a mystery."
Right? For animals there is no mystery. There are things they don't understand, but they don't know they don't understand, nor do they wonder about them. It must be the case that "mystery" and man co-arise. Man, by virtue of being one, awakens into a cosmic mystery, and that's that. We absolutely cannot make it go away under our own powers. To think otherwise (e.g., scientism) is to turn away from What Is.
Which makes for a curious What Is, because this Is is again characterized by an absence. This almost sounds like we are being silly, or just playing word games, but that is not the case: a mystery is a present absence.
Pure absence would pose no mystery at all, because we wouldn't know about it. Conversely, even pure presence is somewhat (or even very) mysterious if you think about it, because, for starters, how did it get here, and how can we know about it?
In other words, the most rudimentary intelligence and the simplest intelligible both point to something not present. In short, existence itself implies something beyond or behind or beneath existence, and probably all three.
"Nothing is obvious. Everything conceals something else. / The Hebrew word for universe Olam / Comes from the word for hidden. / Something of the Holy One is hidden within" (ibid).
It seems to me that this accounts for the infinitude of existence, in the sense that, no matter how much we know about it, there is always more hidden away. The latter is "absent," and yet it must be present in some sense, or we could never dis-cover it.
"Religion is a more or less organized way of remembering that every mystery points to a higher reality" (ibid.).
Which is interesting, because for the secularized mind, a mystery can only point to a lower reality, i.e., ignorance or stupidity: if something is mysterious, it is not intrinsically so, rather, only because of human limitation. We'll eventually figure it out.
But "Spiritual awareness is born of encounters with the mystery." Here again, this is quite distinct from intellectual awareness born of solving problems. An encounter with the mystery is an encounter with the present-absence, which has a real "heft," unlike the mere problem, which is just an irritating hole in one's cognition.
"Eve bore both Cain and Abel. / Abraham fathered both Isaac and Ishmael. / And Rebecca bore both Jacob and Esau. / Two nations are in your womb" (emphasis mine).
Now, womb is the quintessential space, or receptacle, or matrix of development. We could even say that the cosmos is the womb of becoming. And who but the tenured would deny that it contains two nations? (Nation and nativity are even cognates.)
But "how much space is there separating them?... The rabbis say that they are right next to one another" -- you know, in the same way that the White House is directly adjacent to the United States.
"Entrances to holiness are everywhere. / The possibility of ascent is all the time... / There is no place on earth without the Presence."
And "There are places children go that grown-ups can only observe from afar." So close yet so far! For children, what we call "the world" is absent (or at least we try to shield them from its harshest features), thus, it doesn't occlude the presence of the Mystery. There is always a vicarious sense of joy in watching our children run around inside it. Conversely, watching a child play a video game is depressing.
Sometimes -- oftentimes -- an absence in us becomes a vital presence for someone else: "Everyone carries with them at least one and probably / Many pieces to someone else's puzzle. / Sometimes they know it. Sometime they don't know it.
"And when you present your piece / Which is worthless to you, / To another, whether you know it or not, / Whether they know it or not, / You are a messenger from the Most High."
Holy anonymity, b'atman, angels everywhere!
BTW, this all started with a discussion of Maximus' cosmic pneumography, and with that little quote by Voegelin in my comment box. And so it will finagain:
"And of course it is really only one circle. And the circle is actually a sphere.... The first man and the last man, they are present now" (ibid).