Friday, October 09, 2015

Freedom and Mystery: Rewordgitations of Perennial Grasping

Today is the first day of the new Friday format I just thought of. As you may or may not know, we have now passed the ten year mark in the blog's existence, and more to the point, there are almost 3,000 posts and probably millions of unexhumined words down there. So, I thought I'd exhume some of them and look at them in a new context.

The plan is to type a phrase or a few words into the search engine, see what pops up, and then skim the cream off the top. It reminds me of Schuon's Echoes of Perennial Wisdom, which extracts crystalline nuggets from his entire ouvre for our consideration. That little book is almost as aphoristic as Don Colacho. For example, here is the first echo: The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute... ute... ute... ute....

Boom! I believe that idea will come back to haunt us in some of the passages below. Of course I can't be as concise as those two luminaries; rather, I am somewhere between and beyond ecognomical and prolux, i.e. too little and too much.

So, here we go.

Either human existence is real or illusory. If real, then so too is our freedom real. In fact, as our Unknown Friend writes, freedom "is none other than the real and complete existence of a being created by God." In other words, to be "free" and "real" are synonymous terms from the spiritual point of view. For if you are not free, then you are determined by something else -- even just an extension of some other entity that is real, whether genes or class or God, it doesn't matter.

But what is freedom? Freedom implies a kind of (relatively) absolute wholeness, or center, which is a mirror of the Creator. Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God. Again, no wonder the religiously irreligious zealots of the left are so adamantly opposed to freedom, and imagine that government can somehow create or "restore" it, when it can only respect or rescind it. --2008

Freedom must in some sense be synonymous with "real." The necessary cannot come into existence, because coming into existence is a transition from not existing to existing. Thus, the purely necessary doesn't really (or essentially) change at all, because it is always itself in a deterministic manner. Ice may look different, but it's really just frozen water. Furthermore, it doesn't have any choice in the matter so long as the temperature dips below 32˚.

But there are degrees of freedom and therefore of reality. Looked at this way, God would be the only completely real reality, as only God is not caused or conditioned by something else. But when he breathed a living spirit into Man, he exwholed a bit of his own unnarcissary being into us. Which is why we both partake of God's reality and can know of it.

If God were actually the direct cause of everything, that would again be just another way of saying that nothing really exists except for God. And predestination doesn't work for me, unless it is understood as our final, not efficient cause. In this sense we can understand the paradox that our purpose in life is to become what we "already" are; and how it is that in all of creation, humans, and only humans, can fail to accomplish this task (at least in this life).

Bolton points out that if God were the actual cause of our illusory acts of free will, "this would mean that God did not delegate any causal power to created beings. In this case, God would be the only real agent in existence, such that when wood, for instance, appeared to be burned by fire, it would really be burned by God, under the guise or veil of visible fire." Isn't this the position of the Mohammedans? Among other things, it completely obliterates the space of moral freedom and responsibility, does it not? For whatever happens, you can just plead that it was "God's will." Kill a Jew? "Wasn't me. The knife did it."

The point is, if we oversimplify God and see him as only transcendent or only immanent, various absurdities, or "intrinsic heresies," follow. Now, an intrinsic heresy is anything that I don't agree with. --2009

God or no God, Absolute or absolutely relative, O or Ø -- either way, man is uniquely privileged to speak of the highest things. The only question is: how high can One go?

Or, more to the point: how Lo does O go? For it makes no sense to affirm that God doesn't exist. Rather, a more honest statement would be that if God doesn't exist, humans could never know it, because man would have no reason to believe in any absolute, including absolute negation. With no Absolute, all is relative. Period.

By definition there can be only one Absolute, which, in my opinion, is the "sponsor," so to speak, of all the relative absolutes we use to negotiate our way through life.

It is similar to the idea that all numbers are simply multiples of one. Until one has the idea of "oneness" -- and note that it is a quality before it is a quantity -- one cannot proceed mathematically. Bion felt that the "discovery" of oneness was the single greatest leap of mankind, i.e., the idea that, for example, five rocks and five sticks share the abstract principle of fiveness.

But because there is only one Absolute it is not possible to map it, because as soon as one tries, one has created two. It is analogous to attempting to map, say, "music." On the one hand we have an abstract system of musical notation, and yet, all of the millions of melodies added together don't come close to exhausting the realm of music, which might as well be infinite. At best, we can dip into this realm of musical potential and channel its infinite possibilities in ways that are deep, interesting, and beautiful.

Might we say the same of God -- or, let us just say O, for to say "God" is already to project a lot of implicit preconceptions? In other words, what if religion, like music, is a way to translate what is otherwise unthinkable into something deep, interesting, and beautiful? Here is how Schuon describes it:

"Metaphysical Truth is both expressible and inexpressible." In fact, I would say that this is what distinguishes the exoterist from the esoterist, or the normotic personality from the transnormal Raccoon: the implicit belief on the part of the former that his particular expression fully expresses the inexpressible -- that his relativity is somehow absolute (which, of course, makes him God). --2011

Not the mystery "of" man, mind you, but the mystery that man is.

For the intrinsic relation between man and mystery is not "prepositional" but essential. This relation is deeper than language, as language too is predicated upon it. If there were no mystery, then there would be absolutely nothing to talk about and no one to hear it. You know the type.

The ultimate Mystery is customarily called God, but referred to here as O in order to preserve the Mystery.

As Rahner points out, the experience of this Mystery "is more primary than reflection and cannot be captured by reflection."

Indeed, man himself is the mirrorculous reflection of this prior Mystery, and the mysterious experience of oneself is also obviously deeper than reflection. It is the unfathomable Ocean upon which we float, AKA the Great Sea of the unThought Known.

Man is always Oriented to the Absolute Mystery. Here again you may need to respectfully forget about your seenill grammar and gravidad, because this is like no other familyar relation. "For we do not have an experience of God as we have of a tree, another person and other external realities," all of which "appear within the realm of our experience at a definite point in time and space" (Rahner).

Rahner makes the provocative point that it is impossible to imagine a future in which the human race could exist without the word "God."

As such, our atheist friends, by incessantly using the word for what they haven't experienced, halfunwittingly keep the experience alive.

The only alternative for the sincere atheist is to not just feebly hope the word will someday disappear from the human vocabulary, but "to contribute to its disappearance by keeping dead silence about it himself and not declaring himself an atheist." You know, don't just stand there saying something, but siddown and shaddup.

In order to pursue their impossible end, the atheists would need to be more like their fellow liberals, who are always trying to ban words in order to pretend that the unpleasant realities to which the words attach do not exist. But banishing the word "retard" doesn't mean you aren't one, only that you're the last to know.

So: "The mere fact that this word exists is worth thinking about," to put it mildly. For starters, as alluded to above, it's not like any other word, and yet, we still understand it, if "understand" isn't too misleading a term.

Which it no doubt is, because to understand God would be to be God. In other words, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it. And if he does exist, only man couldn't know it.

Even if we deicide that God is dead, we still need to reserve the name for what has died. But as soon as we do that, some mischievous rascal is going to start nosing around and redeuscover the empty tomb where the body is supposed to be buried. Game over. Or resumed, rather.

Nevertheless, if man were to effectively banish the word God from his Ocabulary, he would obviously still be immersed in mystery, except the mystery would "rot," so to speak, being deprived of all light and oxygen.

"The absolute death of the word 'God,'" writes Rahner, "would be the signal, no longer heard, by anyone, that man himself had died." Call it a signull. --2012

The trinocular Raccoon simply begins with God Is, or O. The rest is our problem. Unlike some of our competitors, we do not deploy reason to explore the mysteries of faith, but gnosis or intellection to explore the mysteries of Reason. --2010

12 Comments:

Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ten years. Seems like only yesterday...Coongratulations, Bob!

10/09/2015 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"And predestination doesn't work for me, unless it is understood as our final, not efficient cause."

In Final Destination there are no sequels.

10/09/2015 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In order to pursue their impossible end, the atheists would need to be more like their fellow liberals, who are always trying to ban words in order to pretend that the unpleasant realities to which the words attach do not exist. But banishing the word "retard" doesn't mean you aren't one, only that you're the last to know."

Speaking of which, why, after ten years, do I still attempt to drink coffee while reading OC?

10/09/2015 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Or beer?

10/09/2015 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"...But banishing the word "retard" doesn't mean you aren't one, only that you're the last to know."

:-)

"... In other words, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it. And if he does exist, only man couldn't know it."

Oo.

"...Unlike some of our competitors, we do not deploy reason to explore the mysteries of faith, but gnosis or intellection to explore the mysteries of Reason. "

Sometimes snacking is more filling than a full meal.

10/09/2015 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, what Van said™

If God were actually the direct cause of everything, that would again be just another way of saying that nothing really exists except for God.

So this morning, I was being talked at by a guy who is so determined to be a Biblical literalist that he's been watching videos on YouTube implying that the moon does not reflect sunlight, but rather (I guess??) that it creates it own sort of light somehow. Apparently, this may be "proven" experimentally by checking the temperature of moonlit areas as compared with the ambient temperature of surrounding areas. The point of this exercise is to take perfectly literally the phrasing in Genesis about how God created "two lights," as opposed to saying (no doubt much more cumbersome and less poetically in the original Hebrew) "one great light and one reflector" or something. It was difficult, but I managed to refrain from asking him about the recent lunar eclipse, or for that matter how he thinks we are able to watch YouTube videos on a functional SmartPhone. Anyone that dedicated to being wrong is not going to be swayed by anything so pedestrian as reality.

In fact, I would say that this is what distinguishes the exoterist from the esoterist, or the normotic personality from the transnormal Raccoon: the implicit belief on the part of the former that his particular expression fully expresses the inexpressible -- that his relativity is somehow absolute (which, of course, makes him God).

Yes, just so.

10/09/2015 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Nevertheless, if man were to effectively banish the word God from his Ocabulary, he would obviously still be immersed in mystery, except the mystery would "rot," so to speak, being deprived of all light and oxygen

It has struck me many times over the past year or so that God is a serious farmer. Studying seeds this week, we learned about the three things needed for germination: light (either directly, or indirectly as warmth), oxygen, and water. Deprived of any of these, the seed won't sprout...

10/09/2015 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Indeed, man himself is the mirrorculous reflection of this prior Mystery, and the mysterious experience of oneself is also obviously deeper than reflection. It is the unfathomable Ocean upon which we float, AKA the Great Sea of the unThought Known.

So this morning, for grins and giggles, I thought I'd explore around a bit and see how hard it would be to learn Hebrew, because one thing that occurs to me with great regularity when reading the Bible is that there are a lot of jokes that get completely lost in translation. Not to mention all the great poetry I keep hearing about.

Found a rather useful website, and starting with the first letter, Aleph, we learn this:

"In Kabbalistic literature, the upper Yod (meaning arm) [of the letter] represents the hidden (and infinite) aspect of YHVH called ein sof (...lit. 'without end'), whereas the lower Yod represents the revelation of YHVH to mankind. The Vav, whose meaning is 'hook,' shows connectedness between the two realms. Vav is also thought to represent humanity, since Adam was created on the sixth day. Vav is diagonal since it is humbled in the face of God's mystery and His revelation. The two Yods also represent the paradox of experiencing God as both hidden and close, far and near."

That's a lot of meaning for a letter that is usually silent, and looks like a broken x. It seems the whole alephbet is actually made of pneumaticons...

10/10/2015 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oops - I rolled a 1 for link-fu. For anyone interested, the page I got that from is here.

10/10/2015 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger CheyTown said...

This blog and your book have turned my world upside down. Or is it right side up?

10/10/2015 09:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Both: it's an orthoparadoxical complementarity, depending upon whether one looks at it from the divine or human point of view.

10/10/2015 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"It seems the whole alephbet is actually made of pneumaticons..."

It also helps that it's read right to left, because it means the right brain sees and processes it first....

10/11/2015 06:23:00 PM  

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