Monday, August 17, 2015

O, Nothing in Particular

Picking up from where we loafed off... which was wherenow? Something about whether there is actually such a thing as Man, or if man is, as the Darwin-at-all-costs insists, just a random jumble of contingencies -- a permanently moving target instead of the being who is permanently moving toward his nonlocal target, i.e.i.e., O. You know the old gag: eros shot toward the heart of the son.

But first, thank you for all those kind komments. I hadn't planned on a living eulogy, just the announcement of a brief break and an open thread to go along with it. The reference to "ten years of service" was just tossed out there, but became the focus.

Which is fine. I know that every year on his birthday, Dennis Prager invites guests to call in and let him know how he has changed their lives. It's a profound and touching ritual, and it helps both parties in different ways. For Prager, he says he always takes praise to heart and criticism to the head, where most people presumably do it the other way around.

I'd like to believe I'm the same way. There's just no way those flattering comments could go to my head, for reasons mentioned in one of my comments: if they did, it wouldn't be an occasion for narcissistic inflation, but rather, black despair. If I am IT, then we, my fiends, are as deluded as any Obama voter. I don't know how these new age teachers such as Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra or fill-in-the-blank can live with their depraved selves. Probably by projecting it into conservatives.

No, my self esteem just isn't that high, and I promise that there's nothing you folks can do about it. Besides, if self esteem is what I were after, wouldn't I write a bunch of useless books for the mediocretin masses or get myself published in the International Journal of Tenured Hackery?

On the other hand, to the extent that the blog is truly "efficacious" -- meaning that it does apparently lead to genuine change in people's lives -- then that is Something to be looked or even sneezed at. What's going on there? I have to believe it begins with me, because that is precisely where I begin: my first operating principle, as it were, is to get me out of the way. In fact, it's really spelled out in the book, isn't it?

For example, we begin (or end) by positing the existence of O -- which is necessarily many things, such as the Organized Totality. I believe that by selflessly orienting ourselves to it, we set up a kind of vertical exchange of energies which we symbolize (⇅). When I first came up with that idea, I imagined I was being a little daring or esoteric or avant garde, but I've come to realize that I'm just being as literal and mundane as can be.

For example, a reader this morning posed the following question for Catholic anti-Bob whisperers: "how does one reconcile the esoterist perspective on religion with the exoteric religion that is largely intolerant of any heresy? I mean Schuon is clearly a heretic (Bob likely is too) according church teaching. It seems to me that believing special revelation exists outside the church isn't compatible with being a legit Catholic."

What I am suggesting is that there is nothing "special" about this verticalisthenic exercise, nor are we talking about Revelation, and certainly no revelation that deviates from Tradition. Catholicism is a rather large tent, in fact, the largest tent I have thus far encountered on this earth.

I mean, Meister Eckhart? Yes, he ran into a couple of bumpkins in the road during the Inquisition, but he was never excommunicated, and he is as Far Out as you can get without burning down the tent. I've been meaning to do a Meister Eckhart Review and Update. Soon.

Here are some concrete examples, torn from my recent slactio divina. Take this book on Aquinas by Bernard McGinn (who also wrote THE best book on brother Eckhart).

First of all, this haiku-ized statement by Thomas could be our motto:

our task is to hand

onto others the things gained

in contemplation

It goes like this: 1) (↑), 2) (o), 3) (↓), 4) (→). In fact, you could say that your Lavish Praise is (←). And I know and you know that (←) is a meager thing unless it is preceded by your own (↑) and (↓). I am just the middleman. You're welcome.

About the charge of esoterism. Well, yes and no. No because I don't believe I contradict Tradition, Yes because one can hardly get more esoteric than Christianity itself.

Example.

Take the circular structure of One Cosmos, the prequel. Pretty modernist and avant garde, right?

Wrong.

"The wisdom found in revelation and the wisdom that is the gift of the Holy Spirit go beyond any wisdom we can acquire by our own thinking -- they are what Thomas calls 'supernatural gifts.' They come from God [↓] and are integral in our return to God [↑]..."

This is the Circle to which the book -- and blog -- conforms: "For Thomas there is a cycle of wisdom, a circular process of emanation and return to God, following the order of the circular model of the creation and return of the universe."

Yes, that is pretty esoteric but that is also the Doctor of the Church talking, so no, you can't buy some pot from him.

You might even notice that I yoinked a bizarre statement by Thomas and placed it above the comment box below:

The circle among figures and circular motion among all the forms of movement are the most perfect, because there is a return to the source in them. For this reason in order that the whole of creation attains its final perfection, it is necessary for creatures to return to their source.

Nor is it remotely Gnostic to say that the Great Return is a return to Nothing.

First of all, that is made plain by Eckhart's crack on p. 6, the Page of Darkness: There is something in the soul which is above the soul, divine, simple, an absolute nothing, rather unnamed than named, unknown than known, etc.

To borrow a gag from this other book, we're not talking about some vague and vacuous existentialist nothing in general, but rather, the divine and slacuous nothing in particular.

Not much time this morning. Back to vertical play but back to horizontal toil as well.

10 Comments:

Blogger Van Harvey said...

"First of all, this haiku-ized statement by Thomas could be our motto:

our task is to hand

onto others the things gained

in contemplation
It goes like this: 1) (↑), 2) (o), 3) (↓), 4) (→). In fact, you could say that your Lavish Praise is (←). And I know and you know that (←) is a meager thing unless it is preceded by your own (↑) and (↓). I am just the middleman. You're welcome."

Wo, that's a really good motto. Saintly even. With just a little poetic license, it could be taken a number of upward ways... a true racoon mountaineering map.

8/17/2015 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

... rather unnamed than named, unknown than known ...

It's like space -- the nothing where everything happens.

8/17/2015 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"we're not talking about some vague and vacuous existentialist nothing in general, but rather, the divine and slacuous nothing in particular."

Father Barron has a nice and easy way of explaining what we mean when we refer to the Great Nothing which is the Source of all Everythings. I think he borrowed it from Aquinas. Anyway, it goes some-thing like, "God is not merely a thing among other things..." He is beyond or outside the category of "things." Now that I think of it, He may be indefinable by definition.

8/17/2015 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes -- how could the uncontainable be contained by a definition?

8/17/2015 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Topperware?

8/17/2015 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

Regarding the question of gnosis. I think that every human being can have a unique personal experience of God. First because we are each an absolutely unique creation so our spiritual experiences will also be unique (at least potentially). And, second, because God is Infinite and I believe it is His greatest joy to share all of Himself with all of His children. That means we can dine at the Table of the Lord and never have the same meal twice. Yet every time it is God who meets us there, always Him, only Him.

At the same time since all spiritual experience, in terms of grace, flows from Him there has to be a commonality that binds it all together, an underlying unity, logic and most of all, love.

Problems with gnosis seem to start when folks try to insist that their personal spiritual experience is some kind of new revelation that is applicable to all mankind. That's when I hit the 'BS' button and move along down the trail.

Bottom line, judge a tree by its fruit, and the Tree of Bob has been dropping some very nice peaches into my lap for eight years now. And that's why I stick around...

8/17/2015 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Kurt's comment reminds me of someone I was talking to recently. He is a "believer", but he says that when people start talking about having a personal experience with God, he thinks they are delusional, or they are trying to manipulate other people. He has a point in that gnosis has great potential for abuse and error. But there's is plenty to ground us, and judge the fruit. I agree.

8/17/2015 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"No, my self esteem just isn't that high, and I promise that there's nothing you folks can do about it."

Wouldn't have it any other way, Bob. It seems to me that's pretty much a requirement to be a raccoon. Giant ego's are an obstacle to finding truth. Plus, people who can't realize the importance of being humble tend to be braggerts that are mired in a swamp of self esteemery (and are quite proud of it).



8/17/2015 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Ben, perhaps we can coin, "self-steamery."

8/18/2015 04:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I like that, Joan. Explains why those who puff themselves up tend to be all wet.

8/18/2015 07:08:00 AM  

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