Friday, May 08, 2015

The Rupture

The following may be THE principle that divides left and right: "Each of us carries in himself the Image of his own world," projecting "it into a more or less coherent universe, which becomes the stage on which his destiny is played out" (Corbin, in Cheetham).

However, to the extent that we are not conscious of this process of projection, we are likely to experience this self-imposed world as having been imposed by others, or as something concrete and oppressive instead of being a stage of liberation and ascent. Life becomes a grim slog instead of a metaphysical joyride.

Obviously this can only truly apply in a free society, as there are places where one has no choice but to adapt to an imposed world, as in Saudi Arabia, Iran, or academia. At the same time, it is only in a free society that one can vividly see how so many people enclose themselves in various pseudo-realities.

For example, think of the millions of people who believe the "hands up don't shoot" narrative, or that "Bush lied about WMD," or that the 2008 crash was fundamentally caused by "corporate greed" instead of government policies. I mean, I'm as greedy as the next guy. How come I'm not rich?

These and similar worlds are pure projection, for which reason they are impervious to fact, because they are coherent (if narrow) worlds, not theories. They "make sense" to the person who lives in them, even if they cause pain. Or at least they provide a pseudo-explanation for the person's pain. As I said in a tweet, if those Baltimore rioters think they're angry now, wait until they find out they were abandoned by their fathers.

To recognize that we are the author of our own world is a revolution -- a big bang -- as consequential as the prior bangs into matter, life, and mind. But to re-emphasize, this does not in any way equate to subjectivism or relativism.

There is a Real World. It is just that, since each person is unique, so too is their world. It is very much like the idea that there is no such thing as a baby: likewise, there is no such thing as a world, only a world-human dyad.

As Cheetham explains, "philosophy, and indeed rational thought, only reaches its proper culmination in a 'rupture' of plane, a profound event of the soul in which the image of reality so carefully and reasonably established is seen finally to be a product of the soul -- the soul's own projection of its inmost reality."

It is not so much that we abandon the image as transcend it; or, instead of being contained by it, it is contained in us: "It turns the world inside out" (ibid.), such that Person truly becomes the final, unsurpassable, and uncontainable category.

This is what the Raccoon calls "vertical graduation." Conversely -- to paraphrase Don Colacho -- the horizontal world is a school one attends forever without ever obtaining a degree.

You could say that the further leftward one proceeds, the less likely one is to experience the Rupture. At the extreme left, the only possible rupture is Revolution, as in the French revolution, the communist revolution, the Iranian revolution, or the Hopenchange revolution. This is the collective-exteriorization of what is supposed to be an individual-interiorization.

This is what makes the American "revolution" so unique, for it wasn't a revolution at all, rather, the establishment of an "empire of liberty" through which each person was free to pursue his own personal rupture. The left has been trying to clamp down on it ever since.

I mean, look up there at the top of the blog. What does it say? That's right, THE RELIGION THE ALMIGHTY & ME WORKS OUT BETWIXT US. As such, there is no such thing as a Bob, only the GodBob hybrid. I can't tell you what's going to come out ahead of time, because there's another person involved.

Which maybe sounds... I frankly don't know how it sounds, but how could it be otherwise? No human relationship is predictable, nor can it be identical to any other.

What horizontaloids refer to as "the world" is actually contained in another world, a transcendent and immaterial world to which the soul has access. To be in the former world is to be more or less out of the real(er) world. However, the converse is not true, as the higher world contains the lower, just as biology contains physics, not vice versa.

Corbin would say that, to the extent that the higher world is lost, abandoned, or yoinked away from us, we will find ourselves gnostalgically longing for it. Could this be what that mess in Genesis 3 is all about? If it ain't, it'll do until the real mess gets here.

But to mess this up is to mess up the primordial unity of the world -- specifically, the dynamic and creative unity of vertical and horizontal. Then we start looking for the Lost Unity, or in other words, History. History is what happens when you're busy looking for the absent God.

When you reconnect with the missing God, history still happens, only on a higher plane and in a higher key. Again, this is the Rupture, and it works both ways. Christ, for example, is the Rupture of ruptures, crashing so hard into history that the damage is irreparable.

Then, as if that weren't enough, he crashes back out the other end, causing permanent damage to the annoying veil that separates man and God. Thanks to him, we have only to hang on to his coattails, through which we have our own unique relationship with this so-called Father person. Cheetham:

"God is the Unique because God singularizes each thing He touches -- He is unique in the sense that He makes each thing and each person unique." Or, if you want to turn it around, man's uniqueness -- his individual personhood -- is again only conceivable in light of the low & hibrid worked out betwixt this man and that God. This is the opposite of any oppressive, one-size-fits-Allah conceptualization.

Call it polymonotheism.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

On Making Oneself Capable of God

I am pleased to report that the book we've been discussing, All the World an Icon, cools off considerably at the halfway mark, and even goes astray into error and trivia. I don't have much use for Jung, who commits the fundamental blunder of psychologizing the religious. He's not as bad as Freud, who frankly pathologizes it, but he's still an unhelpful mishmash of tedious pedantry and profound error.

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.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Just Say NO to the Matrix

"Everything in Corbin's thinking," writes Cheetham, "follows from the epiphany that reveals the soul to itself as a being of light whose presence illuminates the world."

When we speak of being born again from above, this is what we're talking about: a reorientation such that the soul turns itself inside out and switches attractors. It is also the archetypal Exodus, or Resurrection, or Awakening, or Recollection, or Beer O'clock buzz.

The soul is a being of light whose presence illuminates the world. It reminds me of those premodern theories of vision, whereby the eye shoots a beam of light onto the landscape.

Well. Got a better idea? By the way, the word theory comes from the Greek theoria, the act of viewing, so even a modern theory of vision is still "seen" in the old-fashioned way. In other words, you haven't really solved the problem of sight, just hidden and displaced it to another level. The real problem isn't vision, but how we see it.

Last night I was watching the Dodgers game, and the announcer asked the analyst (a former player) how the batter avoids flinching when a 100 mph fastball whizzes under his chin. He said that the ballplayer simply doesn't see the same ball you or I see. Rather, he processes infinitely more information from the time the ball leaves the pitcher's hand to the moment it arrives at the plate. He didn't say this, but it has the practical effect of slowing down and dilating time. You might say that it is the creation of slack. For you or I, facing Clayton Kershaw would be a slackless experience.

We've discussed this same idea from various angles in the past, but mastery in any field ultimately comes down to the rapidity of information processing, which is mirrored in the brain by the density of neural connections ("neurons that fire together wire together"). And if it's good enough for baseball, it ought to be good enough for God.

To "get good at" religion means to see a richness and depth in the world that is denied the a-theist and a-gnostic who are trapped in what Blake called single vision ("May God us keep From Single vision & Newtons sleep"). And many people are good at religion -- or some aspect of it -- without necessarily calling it such, including various poets, musicians, and scientists (even Newton himself, who pursued science insofar as it illuminated God).

But here we are not just talking about the soul shedding its light on objects and landscapes, but rather, illuminating itself. Indeed, we even call it in-sight. How does that work? Well, if we turn the cosmos right-side up, we see... hard not to use that word, isn't it? Anyway, we see that vision of the exterior world is actually the analogue of a more fundamental interior vision, for it could never be the other way around.

What this ultimately means is that the deeper the soul, the deeper the world.

Depth? What does that mean?

Jumping way ahead in All the World an Icon, we read that to follow the raccoomended path "is to acquire as it were an extra dimension, for this path is nothing other than the dimension of depth.... Or of height, which is the complementary aspect of the same dimension" (Martin Lings). Or in other words, it is the Vertical Adventure of Raccoon lore.

We're really rambling all over the place. Better call this meeting to order, if there is one. What I mean is that we may not be able to tackle this subject in any linear way. Rather, it may be like -- in the words of Don Colacho -- "dots of color in a pointillist painting" or "pebbles tossed into the reader's soul. The diameter of the co[o]nentric waves they displace depends on the dimensions of the pond."

Page 5: "Our understanding of purportedly 'objective facts' expresses a mode of our being." I would suggest that this is truly the astonishing hypothesis, for it changes everything.

(Very briefly, I followed the image above to its source, which is a typical perversely scientistic attempt to deploy the light of consciousness in order to enclose it in darkness. Very strange. He even attempts to shove us into a little box of computation that Turing proved impossible. To say nothing of Gödel, not to mention the widely available experience of pneumagenesis, i.e., the Big Bang of spirit.

Cheetham calls it a "reversal of perspective." This is interesting, because the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion uses the same phrase to describe a certain pathological but common psychological maneuver.

To cite a very disturbing contemporary example, consider how the left is actually blaming Pam Geller for the savages who wish to murder her. It's so triggering for me that I can't think about it, or its will hijack the post. Suffice it to say that no matter how low the left sinks, it can always sink a little lower. Which proves the point of this post in a roundabout way.

Facts. "By granting 'all reality to facts' we have 'let ourselves be trapped in the system of unrealities that we have ourselves constructed ...'" Remember what I said yesterday about making a home for Judaism (or Vedanta, or Taoism, etc.) in the soul? Well, it is fundamentally no different with science. Man can never be at home in a scientistic / mechanical / reductionist world, unless he ceases being man.

But this hardly means we can't make a home for science in the soul. We just have to keep our priorities straight, and recognize that science is posterior to the soul, not vice versa. Don't use the soul to extinguish the soul, you tenured apes! That's what we call cluelesside. Instead of being born again, you're unborn again and promptly aborted.

Science is a "dimension of the person." If man were just a dimension of science, then science wouldn't even be possible. Rather, your job -- and it is the hardest job you will ever love -- is "'to embrace the whole of life... [and] totalize in [yourself] all worlds' in the dimension of the present."

This is again because reality is Person and Person is Relationship. If the number of persons is finite, then the possible relations are infinite, just as in the brain, such that the brain quickly overtakes the physical cosmos in terms of "size." Which goes to how the soul contains the cosmos rather than vice versa.

Thus, Corbin's personalism "multiplies realities in a plurality of concrete persons in perpetual dialogue." Conversely, "The abstract time of 'everyone and no one' abolishes pluralism and makes totalitarianism possible."

Bottom line for today: just as we have to never stop saying Yes to God, we must also never stop saying No! to the conspiracy, to Egypt, to the Matrix, to the spiritual retards of the left. This NO

"draws its energy from the [vertical] lightning flash [which] joins heaven with earth, not from some horizontal line of force that loses itself in a limitlessness from which no meaning arises."

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

I Am Still Big, it's the Cosmos that Got Smaller

I mentioned this in a comment, but it may be worth repeating that in the last chapter of The World Turned Inside Out, Cheetham says oh-by-the-way that Corbin "never converted to Islam" and "considered himself an Occidental and a Christian..."

Which caught me by surprise, since I thought my self-appointed mission was to translight his ideas into a Christian context. Certainly he is no one's idea of an orthodox Christian, and not even an unorthodox one; rather heterodox.

For example -- I don't want to get too deep in the weeds here, but he accepted one of the early views of Christ that was rejected by the councils, Docetism. According to Cheetham, he did so because for some reason he believed that "the Incarnation precludes a unique and personal relationship between God manifesting as a person and the unique individual to whom He manifests and on whom He thereby confers personhood."

In general, I find that Corbin unnecessarily fled from certain erroneous notions of Christianity in favor of truths he discovered in Sufism but could have found all along in a Christianity rightly understood. Now that I think about it, this is a common pattern. I did the same thing myself, discovering many truths in Sri Aurobindo's yoga that I thought were unavailable in the west, only to find out otherwise. It seems to be motivated by a kind of spiritual oikophobia, which goes to Jesus' crack about a prophet being without honor in his own home.

By the way, in one of these books, Corbin makes the interesting point that you don't necessarily find a home in a religion, but rather, find a home for the religion in yourself. I can totally relate to this. For example, despite my love for Judaism, I don't think it could be my spiritual home. However, that doesn't mean I can't make a nice home for it inside the soul.

We will no doubt come back to this idea, but at the moment it is accurate to say that this second book on Corbin, All the World an Icon, has overloaded my circuits and left me uncharacteristically discoonbobulated. I don't even know where to start digging myself out of this abyss of light, nor am I able at the moment to wrap the melon around it. Oh whale, is this what it was like for Jonah?

Cheetham himself has now written five books on Corbin in his own attempt to swallow the whale, so I can't even digest the predigested. It reminds me of what Don Colacho says: "The collision with an intelligent book makes us see a thousand stars." I'm seeing enough stars at the moment to methodically catalogue them for the rest of the year.

I won't even say that the book is necessarily "for" anyone else, i.e., You Guys. I can only say that it is definitely in my spiritual idiom, meaning that it is speaking in my soul-language. Of course, the meaning is in myself, but is discovered and illuminated via the idiomatic encounter.

How about we begin on page one. No, better start before the beginning, with an epigraphical clue by Andrew Forge: "When we are looking at a painting we are making a reading; and a reading is not a definitive interpretation, a reading is absorbing and formulating what we understand by it, and then claiming it for ourselves."

I emphasized that last bit because it goes to exactly what I just said in the paragraph immediately above. The reading is our own attempt to articulate and assimilate what the object has provoked in us. Obviously this involves a combination of objectivity and subjectivity, but NOT SO FAST, because this in no way implies subjectivism or relativism.

Rather, it is all about persons and individuals, or more precisely, the individuation of the Person. Corbin is supremely concerned with the individual, but definitely not in any modern egoistic sense. Rather, his understanding is identical to mine, in that the individual is a particular mode of expression of the Absolute.

For me, Christ is the quintessential case, but again, for some reason Corbin failed to make the connection, perhaps because he saw how religion misunderstood and misapplied can indeed result in the arrest of individuality, when the whole point is to become -- to actualize -- one's unique self, not to be a cognitively enclosed robot.

Corbin would also agree that there is no self in the absence of relationship, but for some reason he failed to relate this to the trinitarian metaphysic that makes it both possible and necessary. As suggested in yesterday's post, there can be no abstract/universal God except insofar as the manner in which he manifests in particular individuals via relationship. Perhaps this is ill-sounding, but your relationship to God cannot be the same as my relationship to God, because we are unique individuals.

It reminds me of how my mother used to say that she loved all four of us absolutely equally. Although she was no doubt being sincere, in my mind I would think to myself, "oh, bullshit. How can you love him the same way you love me? Because if you're suggesting that I'm like him, that's an insult. And if you're suggesting that he's like me, that's an insult."

Can you really love without loving individually? Isn't this the problem with the left? You know, they LOVE mankind. It's just people they hate. No one loved mankind more than Marx or Lenin or Stalin. To invert the infamous cliché of the latter, to love one person is a joy. To love a million is a statistic. And probably a tragedy, as in how the left LOVES the poor. To death.

Moving on to page 1, we read that "Corbin's life work was to serve as a champion of the supreme importance of the individual and of the central place of the Imagination in human experience." But just as the individual is distinct from the ego, the imagination is not to be confused with the imaginary, let alone such lesser modalities as fantasy.

And like any Raccoon, "His interests are eclectic and wide-ranging and defy all the traditional boundaries of academic scholarship and, some would say, good sense."

I would go further and suggest that if you fail to violate good sense, you won't get anywhere, for to be trapped in human sense is to be trapped, period. If man is situated between two attractors, then our first task is to somehow vault ourselves out of the orbit of the one for the other. This is precisely the point of a "spiritual practice," although Corbin would agree that our own (↑) not only evokes (↓), but is already a manifestation of it.

Corbin also had a much more expansive and fulsome concept of Truth than do the dwarves of academia. For one, "He believed that truly philosophical thought must always be theo-logical," and even more importantly, "that theology and philosophy are pointless unless they lead to spiritual transformation."

This goes to our own fundamental distinction between (k) and (n). No amount of (k) adds up to one drop of (n), because it is not only the difference between quantity and quality, or knowledge and wisdom, but between a truth that leaves its knower unchanged vs. one that transforms its knower. And all religious truth is of the latter nature.

Yes, such truth can be expressed dogmatically, but that is no better than a load of tenured (k) if it doesn't illuminate and transform you from the inside out. To truly understand a religious truth is to be changed by it, whereas conventional secular truth is often a defense against change.

Here we are in the realm of metanoia, the interior revolution -- or better, re-orientation -- through which we turn ourselves around and turn the cosmos right-side up. You can call it a second birth, so long as you've accomplished the first death and hidden the body.

Just as our relationship with God is what perfects our individuation, we see something similar with regard to our encounter with scripture (or revelation in general). Here again, your encounter will not be my encounter. Rather, the text "provides a con-text for an interpersonal dialogue of mutual interpretation between the reader and the Word."

Con-text is with-text, and only persons can be-with; we are present to the text which is likewise present to us, while we could say that the space in between is a stage for the play of the Divine Third, the Holy Spirit. So it's really a dancing space of three. IMO.

Now this is weird. I just looked it up, and Corbin died nine days before John Paul become pope in October 1978. Weird because the latter's emphasis on persons might have remedied many of Corbin's misunderstandings of Christianity.

Indeed, the two are very much on the same page, because for Corbin, "the individual is the first and final reality." As such, personhood "can neither be deduced nor explained," such that any attempt to do so merely explains away and imprisons oneself in one's own paltry explanation.

After all, if you have explained yourself -- say, via Darwinism -- doesn't that mean ipso facto that you have transcended and escaped from your explanation? C'mon atheists! You can do better than that.

I think I'll stop now. Gotta leave the forest for the trees.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Bon Voyage, Angel!

Bad traffic on the way to school. Not much time this morning, but perhaps enough to build a little diaphanous foundation.

"Intimacy," writes Kenneth Schmitz, "is the self-disclosure of a personal presence;" this presence is ultimately "rooted in nothing short of the unique act of existing of each person." Thus, "in intimacy we come upon and are received into the very act of existing of another."

This whole line of thought obviously goes to Genesis' quaintly euphemistic way of equating sexual intimacy with "knowing"; in reality, this is not so quaint, but rather, goes straight to the metaphysical essence.

As an asnide, we could also say that the left celebrates privacy while devaluing and destroying intimacy. After all, to destroy persons one has only to destroy intimacy, as is understood by all totalitarian regimes.

Intimacy is the voluntary sharing of presence(s): it cannot be forced, which no doubt goes to the horror of rape, i.e., stealing what can only be given.

In intimate sharing -- in the space of intimacy -- we become more "real," or we are able to existentiate our personal reality, our Personhood.

To the extent that this is the case -- and I am assured by Petey that it is the case -- it seems to me that it is because we are images of an ultimate reality which is dynamically "structured" in the same way.

For the Father and Son are the quintessence of intimate presence to one another. You might say that threeness is far more intimate than oneness, for in the case of the latter you can only be intimate with yourself, and we know what that means: yes, it results in spiritual blindness. Three's company but one is a... lonely and pathetic number.

This concept of presence has repeatedly been making itself present to me for several weeks. If I were Henry Corbin, I might say that the Angel of Presence has been trying to get my attention, for where he differs with Plato is that for him, real ideas are not static but active presences. They are angels, or vertical messengers between levels of being. This means that you and I too are angelic beings, unless we choose not to be. This will all become clear as we proceed.

For Corbin (according to Cheetham), the Big Question is, "To what is human presence present?" "Around this question," writes Cheetham, "revolve the central motivations of the spiritual Voyager, and here lies the ultimate significance of the Personal God of all the Religions of the Book..."

Evangelicals have done us the service of re-emphasizing this notion of personal relationship. Referring back to what was said in the first few paragraphs above, at the deepest level, these two -- person(al) and relation(ship) -- might as well be synonymous, for to be a person is to have relations, while to have relations is to manifest the personal, however attenuated. It is why the world is present to us, and vice versa.

Our "limitless cosmos is full of Presences, full of Persons -- full of Angels." In the book I refer to these as "nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist you."

Yes, that is a "joke," but only to throw the unworthy off the scent, for there is simply no question that -- however you wish to express it -- there exist benign vertical presences with whom we may "relate" and who communicate with us via a sympathetic resonance (≈).

And like all Persons, they love communicating! Conversely, it makes them sad to be ignored, again, like any other person. Communicating real truth is a joy. Why? Well, for starters, it goes back to the idea of the intimate sharing through which we make ourselves Present. It makes us really exist, or exist more real-ly.

I think it also bums out God when people pretend not to believe in him, because he is denied that unique presence and therefore the joy of that particular relationship. Why else did he create you, just for the hassle?

Looked at this way, it is up to us to render God present, each in our own uniquely personal way. This doesn't imply relativism, except that it does. Actually, it is a way to have an Absolute without absolutism and a relativity without relativism.

Corbin puts forth the wild and wacky -- but appealing -- idea that "Each human soul has a counterpart in Heaven, who is the eternal and perfected individuality of that soul."

Before you reject your Angel out of hand, please understand that Corbin is expressing a kind of undeniable truth, even if you object to his particular way of expressing it.

For what does it mean to grow, to develop, to surpass ourselves even while becoming ourselves? This clearly implies a personal telos, but what is the ontological status of this telos? Where and what and who and why is it?

You can call it an Angel, as long as you define your terms and explain what you mean. In the book, in order to free it of its mythic baggage, I just call it (¶), to distinguish it from (•). Your Angel doesn't mind, so long as you don't blow him off.

In between these two vertical attractors is the Spiritual Voyage alluded to above, which confers the direction and meaning upon our lives, the measure of which is our deepening Personhood and intimacy with God (which are two seeds of the same coon).