On Making Oneself Capable of God
Schuon has some juicy things to say about this mischievous usurper in his Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism. He doesn't call him out personally, but he writes that
"What we term 'psychological imposture' is the tendency to reduce everything to psychological factors and to call into question not only what is intellectual or spiritual -- the first being related to truth and the second to life in and by truth -- but also the human spirit as such and therewith its capacity of adequation and, still more evidently, its inward illimitation and transcendence."
In other words, to reduce spiritual and metaphysical Truth to psychological "truth" is only to undermine the very possibility of truth. The cosmic adventure is then reduced to a kind of pseudo-spiritual parlor game, only, like scientology, it will cost you a lot of money. Psychotherapy isn't cheap, let alone effective.
I remember back in the day -- back in grad school, to be more specific -- we had to complete 100 or so hours of personal psychotherapy. Being liberal in all things, including psychology, I chose a Jungian analyst, because Jung was clearly the most "out there" of the various respectable schools of psychology. Suffice it to say that the whole enterprise was simply outside my idiom. Meh. Like kissing your sister at a soccer game.
Schuon gets right to the point: "Psychoanalysis is at once an endpoint and a cause, as is always the case with profane ideologies, like materialism and evolutionism, of which it is really a logical and fatal ramification and a natural ally."
In other words, it is an absurd tautology, such that if it "works," it just encloses you in a new -ism or -ology, when the whole point is escape into the uncontainable, the wild godhead.
Nevertheless, the imposture "arrogates to itself functions that in reality are spiritual, and thus poses practically as a religion."
Boy and how. I got up to the threshold of formal post-doctoral training in the psychoanalytic seminary before pulling out and reorienting my focus. I don't know how to explain that rupture except in terms of a combination of grace and idiom. It would have been about 1991 that I decided to discontinue my grim climb up the ladder of the Conspiracy. It was 1995 that I made the conscious commitment to devote the rest of my life to finding God, at which point psychology became just a sideline to pay the bills.
Of course, psychology still has a critical role to play in the overall scheme of things, but as we've been saying in the last couple of posts, one doesn't make a home in it; rather, one finds a home for it in the Self. In particular, I still think that attachment theory and interpersonal neurobiology have critical roles to play in the arc of the human adventure. But they are bridges, not destinations.
To make psychology a destination is to suggest that there exists some sort of harmonious equilibrium for man on the horizontal plane, which is nonsense of the first rank, "as if there were no equilibriums made of insensibility or of perversion" (Schuon).
Rather, "Our human state itself is a disequilibrium, since we are existentially suspended between earthly contingencies and the inborn summons of the Absolute.... We are not amorphous substances, we are movements which are in principle ascensional; our happiness must be proprotioned to our total nature, on pain of lowering us to animality, for a happiness without God is precisely what man cannot withstand without becoming lost."
This is just another way of saying that we are situated between the two vertical attractors, O and Ø, and it is within this space that all the cosmic action takes place.
Something I Wish I Knew before I entered psychotherapy: "It is useless to seek to heal the soul without healing the spirit; what matters in the first place is to clear the intelligence of the errors perverting it, and thus create a foundation in view of the soul's return to equilibrium; not to just an equilibrium, but to the equilibrium whose principle the soul bears within itself."
This is why I would now say that -- for example -- a person who is proclaimed "psychologically healthy" but is a liberal is not healthy at all. Rather, liberalism itself is evidence of a soul-sickness. This no doubt sounds polemical to some, but to the extent that liberalism (and there are many other reasons) 1) denies the soul, 2) relativizes truth, and 3) exteriorizes personal responsibility, this by definition falls short of human health and its cognate, wholeness, for
"the great remedy for all our inward miseries is objectivity towards ourselves; and the source or starting point of this objectivity is situated above ourselves in God. That which is in God is for that reason mirrored in our own transpersonal center which is the pure Intellect; that is, the Truth that saves us is part of our most intimate and most real substance. Error, or impiety, is the refusal to be what one is."
This post has really deviated from its initial impulse. I just wanted to say that it is a relief that All the World an Icon goes south about midway through, because at least now it has a manageable horizon.
Back to our page-by-page cogitations. Consider this: Imagination in the higher sense is "an organ of perception," in the absence of which "the phenomena of religious experience are impossible." Corbin cites the example of the "burning bush," which, from the perspective of our terrestrial eyes, is just a brushfire. (Bear in mind what we said a few posts back about the miracle requiring a "human opening.")
This very much goes to a Big Problem with "fundamentalism," or better, literalism, since it really ends up being an imitation of the cognitive style of flatland scientism, for each equates appearances with reality. This is why it is so easy for the tenured to ridicule the conventionally religious, and for us to ridicule the conventionally tenured.
Here it is critical to distinguish between the imaginary and the imaginal, for the latter involves the crystallization or precipitate of a genuine encounter with a real but immaterial object (or subject-object). You could say that it is like a nonlocal eddy that forms amidst the mutual streaming of (↑) and (↓); this will become more clear as we proceed.
Another key point is that the Imagination is not just passive but creative. As Cheetham expresses it, "The exploration of the subtle realm requires participation between the human and the divine and is at once discovery and creation." Basic orthoparadox there.
This is a "third mode of knowing," involving the "double structure" alluded to above. You could call it the Double Helix of the vertical world. For you Scrabble players out there, Corbin calls it syzygy.
The main point is that there is an active gro-upperation between God and the soul -- or between O and (¶), to keep things unsaturated.
But to reemphasize, this is subjectivity without subjectivism (or psychologizing). Yes, "the mode of perception depends on the mode of being of the perceiver" (Cheetham), but this doesn't mean the perceived object isn't real.
Just as the baseball player makes himself capable of seeing the ball closer to its "source" in the pitcher's hand, "Our great task is 'to make ourselves capable of God,'" which goes back to what Schuon says above about our capacity for adequation. Not all are equally adequate to God, but all are more or less capable of being so, otherwise there would be no such things as spiritual growth or moral retards and reprobates.