Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Absolute Relative Absolute

Continuing with yesterday's discussion of faith as making a space for knowledge, Bion doesn't regard it (faith) as mere passive forgetting, but rather, "a positive act which restrains active memory and desire and provides a mental state which he represents by the term faith. It will allow him to approach the psychic reality that cannot be known but can 'be been'" (Grinberg, et al).

Analogously, as we've said before, God is not something known, but something undergone (or sophered). The only way to approach the I AM is via our own Be: I AM, therefore WE ARE. Balthasar: "To believe and to hear the word of God are one and the same thing."

"Bion uses the term faith, act of faith, and mystery in many of his papers to refer to a mental activity which operates in a non-sensuous dimension" (ibid.).

So, faith is the perfect way to know and understand nonsense; and God is the apex of the nonsense world (for spirit is immaterial). Without him we would be enclosed in an omniscient nightmare world of completely intelligible surfaces with no depth dimension, i.e., no mystery:

"For this voice from eternity whispers and breathes right through everything that exists in the world... and, without depriving the things of this world of their meaning and value, it lends them a bottomless dimension, exploding whatever is closed, relativizing whatever seems ultimate, revealing hidden depths in what seems simple..." (HvB, emphasis mine).

Woo hoo! A gnosis-all is never a know-it-all; nor is he a know-nothing, but rather, an unknow-everything.

Why are things This Way?

Evidently, the "divine plan" is "to lift the creature beyond himself and ennoble him..." (ibid.).

If that's not the plan, it's a hell of thing to happen in a random universe, i.e., a creature built to transcend itself. Why would such a being exist in a Darwinian world? Forget the order, information, and intelligence. How does the relentless transcendence get into the cosmos? How does perpetual being toward contaminate the pure being?

As far as I know, Christianity provides the only metaphysic that explains this mystery, for ultimate reality -- the Trinity -- is always and irreducibly a being-toward.

"In the Son, therefore, heaven is open to the world. He has opened the way from the one to the other and made exchange between the two possible..." (HvB). The Father "transcends" the Son, as the Son is Father-made-immanent. Immanence and transcendence are not a duality but a complementarity, the one always facing -- and nourishing -- the other.

Thus, "the One is accessible without our having to leave behind the many, the world..." The Son is "both ultimate and not ultimate. As God, he is absolute; and yet, as absolute, relative: as the Son who is a relationship proceeding from the Father and returning to him" (ibid.).

It's a Christian rac-koan: as Absolute, He is Relative; and as Relative, He is Absolute.

Furthermore, it's a single tripartite movement: "the sending of the Word of God (the Son) and the lending of the divine Spirit are only two phases of a single process in which divine truth and life are offered to man" (ibid.).

Moreover -- to return to the perfect nonsense -- "The withdrawal of the figure of the Son from sense-perception 'frees' the Spirit..." Only the Spirit "can cause the word of God to penetrate man, history, nature; only in the Spirit can man receive, contemplate and understand the word" (ibid.).

Mary's Yes to the Spirit "is the origin of all Christian contemplation"; like her, we must provide the ready -- which to say, empty -- womb in which to develop into fertile eggheads.

It is said that, 'Nature has a horror of emptiness.' The spiritual counter-truth here is that, 'the Spirit has a horror of fullness.' It is necessary to create a natural emptiness... in order for the spiritual to manifest itself. --Meditations on the Tarot

7 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

"To believe and to hear the word of God are one and the same thing."

Very true. When we believe, we hear it everywhere. Romans 10:8 says, The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.

3/23/2016 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

As far as I know, Christianity provides the only metaphysic that explains this mystery, for ultimate reality -- the Trinity -- is always and irreducibly a being toward.

Yup. As above, so below. Can't say the same for religions that are responsible for atrocities in Europe these days.

3/23/2016 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

"So, faith is the perfect way to know and understand nonsense; and God is the apex of the nonsense world (for spirit is immaterial). Without him we would be enclosed in an omniscient nightmare world of completely intelligible surfaces with no depth dimension, i.e., no mystery:

"For this voice from eternity whispers and breathes right through everything that exists in the world... and, without depriving the things of this world of their meaning and value, it lends them a bottomless dimension, exploding whatever is closed, relativizing whatever seems ultimate, revealing hidden depths in what seems simple..." (Hvb, emphasis mine).

Woo hoo! A gnosis-all is never a know-it-all; nor is he a know-nothing, but rather, an unknow-everything."

Woo hoo indeed! Perfect nonsense. :)

3/23/2016 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Mary's Yes to the Spirit "is the origin of all Christian contemplation"; like her, we must provide the ready -- which to say, empty -- womb in which to develop into fertile eggheads.

The tragedy of the Garden is that man became full of himself, and in his shame not only said "no" to the spirit, but could not bear to be seen - or rather, penetrated by - the Spirit. How broken and isolated we are as a result! Thank God for Mary's Yes.

3/23/2016 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

"How does perpetual being toward contaminate the pure being?"

We look at dolphins, dogs, and elephants, and we see something similar to us. Their behavior is intelligent. They remember things. They can be trained. And yet, are they "selves" in the same way that we are "selves"? If they were, how would we know? There is a huge, effectively unbridgeable communication gap.

My own dog's (pack) behavior is gentle and "loving" to us. But when I look into my dog's eyes, I see no self there. I see an animal immersed in its animality. Nor does my dog seem to indicate that he knows anything about my own self. He knows that I am the alpha, he obeys, he "wants" to please, but he knows nothing of my thoughts. He knows nothing about how I love my friends in Italy, what I'm reading these days, what I worry about when I go to sleep.

Other-self-awareness is bound up, inextricably, with self-awareness, -- but how do "selves" get into the equation of existence in the first place? When we go to Lascaux, are we seeing the emergence of the human self as it draws pictures of animals that are *not* itself? Is something like Lascaux the first evidence of "being-toward" the animal world, and therefore the transcendence of the animal world?

I'm going to lose the "Magister" moniker. For months, and throughout this Lent, I have become a pupil again.

3/24/2016 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

--how do "selves" get into the equation of existence in the first place?

In the first place.

That is, subjectivity -- the Subject, or Person -- must be built into the nature of things. Otherwise there would be no way for mere existence to cross the infinite gap between it and experience.

And to say Person is to say interpersonal, thus the Trinity.

3/24/2016 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"...Why are things This Way?

Evidently, the "divine plan" is "to lift the creature beyond himself and ennoble him..." (ibid.).

If that's not the plan, it's a hell of thing to happen in a random universe, i.e., a creature built to transcend itself...."

It's almost as if persons are meant to be students, whose Education is had by lessons that can only be learned, by actually learning them. No fancy apps or cribbing answers will help you here. No "social promotion" here. And if you flunk? Best get ready to hear the Mother of all "Wait till your Father gets home!"s.

3/25/2016 09:27:00 AM  

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