Grow Up and Behave Like a Proper Child!
"Gratitude is a virtue that allows us, not only to be content with little things -- this is holy childhood -- but also to appreciate or respect little things or big things because they come from God, beginning with the beauty and the gifts of nature; one must be sensitive to the innocence and mystery of the divine works."
One might say that gratitude is awareness of a kind of an ontological exchange that is always taking place, such that we are always receiving more than we give.
Elsewhere Schuon speaks of the rhythms (the spiraling thematic repetitions) and stages (the linear ascent) of life. From an elderly but still spry post:
"For Schuon, all natural phenomena are here to convey deeper lessons to us. Thus, for example, our lives are not just divided into day and night, but into seasons: the childhood spring of 'formation and learning'; the mature summer of 'actual and effective realization'; the late-middle age autumn of 'consolidation, reparation, and the directing of others'; and the old age winter of 'detachment and transcendence.'
"Alternatively, one could say that childhood is 'the paradise of innocence,' youth 'the time of the passions,' maturity 'the time of work,' and old age 'that of sadness' -- at least for the horizontal man. For the vertical man, 'the opposite takes place: age is an ascent towards another world.' Extremes meet, as paradise comes into view (hence the resonance between grandparents and grandchildren, who are on the Same Page)."
That would be page 265: "Too old, older than Abraham, too young, young as a babe's I AM." This nonlocal transcendent-immanent point of contact is precisely where "We'll meet again. Up ahead, 'round the bend. The circle unbroken, by and by." Etc.
So, looked at developmentally -- and this I think is the experience-near part -- we obviously come into the world in a state of... mysticality, for lack of a better term. It's all a mystery, but this will generally be a pleasant or dread-full mystery, depending upon the quality of caretakers. Scaretakers are very adept at transmitting their own dread -- their own anxieties, impasses, conflicts, and dead spots -- into their children for processing.
The point is to cultivate -- or at least not pave over -- a ground of the personality whereby one is Alive Before the Mystery, one reason being that we can only pretend to make the mystery go away anyway. This latter is what I mean by demystifying the world, i.e., draining it of Mystery.
While looking up that first quote from Schuon, I found a number of relevant points from previous posts:
"Both Balthasar and Chesterton make much of the very idea of God-as-child. The former speaks of 'the eternal mystery of the childhood of Christ' flowing 'into the eternal childhood which is given to men: hope.'
"For if you think about it, hope is indeed the essence of childhood. Why? A number of reasons, but I was thinking of how children are always changing and growing. They are like little arrows that always point toward their own telos -- which is to say, perfection, or completion, or maturity. I would suggest that America is infused with this idea -- or rather, that the very idea of America is infused with Christian hope in the sense we have just stated.
"What I mean is that there is no reason for hope in a static society: things are as they are and will be as they will be because they have always been this way (and this way is decreed by the gods, so it is not for us to change it).
"Against the American ideal is the European import of Marxism, which both sees and creates static classes.... Just as the caste system tethers individuals to their societal place, thus depriving them of hope, multiculturalism seals people into so many boxes of petrified failure. The difference is that the leftist exchanges hope for envy, thus the crude appeals to race, class, sexual preference, etc. In other words, the leftist crocktrine of diversity
"'tends to freeze people where the accident of birth has placed them. Unlike the caste system, multiculturalism holds out the prospect that, all cultures being equal, one's life chances should be the same -- and that it is society's fault if these chances are not the same' (Sowell). So instead of hope for betterment, the left promotes resentment of the better off, accompanied by a demand for what they call 'social justice' which is simply envy with a truncheon.
"Now Jesus, of course, makes a point of counseling us to be as children, but surely he doesn't mean this in any pejorative sense -- i.e., to be as naive, credulous, and easily led as a Democrat.
"Again, what characterizes the child? Well, for starters, a child is what man uniquely is, in the sense that -- alone among creatures -- he specializes in immaturity because his neoteny never ceases.
"To say neoteny is to say neo-nate, which simply means 'new birth.' Thus, to say that man must be 'born again' implies that one must not conflate, say, biological and spiritual birth, in that the former happens just once.
"Now a child, just because he is constantly learning and therefore 'permanently immature,' is not thereby a little nothing. Rather, he is the very symbol of our own eros shot into the heart of the divine center. We are all as children growing toward our proper end."
End of Old Stuff.
What I'm trying to get across is this idea of recapturing and reviving that state of Mystery. I well recall how the Mystery gradually closed in my case. It reminds me of the worthy words of Wordsworth:
"Heaven lies about us in our infancy!"
But then, don't you know, "Shades of the prison-house begin to close / Upon the growing Boy."
"At length the Man perceives it [the Mystery] die away, / And fade into the light of common day."
What I want to know is, can we avoid ebeneezing away the Mystery, or can we revivify it later on?
"Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only? Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead, but if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"
I suppose that is the point of this book, The Meaning of Blue: Recovering a Contemplative Spirit. (Not sure if I can unambivalently recommend this one.)
Back to how the shades of the prison-house began to close on this growing boy. I suppose it became especially noticeable some time after completing graduate school in 1988 and picking up the spiritual practice in 1995. Seven years in the desert.
To complete school and become a licensed Healer of Souls is to invert the world one had previously inhabited up to that time: instead of being on the receiving end, one is now on the bullshitting end. You go through a brief phase of back off, man, I'm a psychologist, but that fades, at least in my case. Fortunately, the psyche is a small thing compared to God.
Out of time, but I would end by saying it is far more interesting to be contained by the Mystery -- like an innocent child -- than to pretend to contain it -- like an obnoxious or even tenured child.