Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The St↺ry of ʘur Lives

The self must first be a vertical emanation, a spark of divinity that extends from G⧬d; and second, a horizontal line that persists through time. Visually it must look something like (↳).

However, it also has a telos that runs back to God, so the most compact way to write our autobiography would be 〇 ↓ ☞ ↑ ʘ.

Or perhaps just ↺.

If I had all day, I could toy with the meaning of other promising pneumaticons such as ⇥ (hitting a wall), ⇸ (breaking through the wall), ⇈ (sacramental marriage), ⇤ (regression), ↮ (stuck in the purgatorial middle), ⇝ (psychodrama), ⇢ (discontinuity), etc.

Anyway, "the self is the psychological or ontological thread that runs through our lives connecting the person I am today with the person I was yesterday, and again with the person I will be tomorrow" (Hill).

But before that is the vertical ingression, my favorite description of which comes from the Rabbi. Picture "a line drawn from above," "a continuous line of spiritual being, stretching from the general source of all the souls" down to ours. This is of course a line of Light with a little sparkler at the end. That spark in the dark would be you.

"The human soul, from its lowest to its highest levels, is a unique and single entity, even though it is multi-faceted. In its profoundest being, the soul of man is a part of the Divine and, in this respect, is a manifestation of God in the world" (ibid.).

Indeed, "only man, by virtue of his divine soul, has the potential, and some of the actual capacity, of God Himself" -- e.g., truth, reason, love, creativity, transcendence, freedom, slack, etc. But precisely because we are free, we have the capacity "to reach the utmost heights -- or to plumb the deepest hells" (ibid.).

"Every soul is thus a fragment of the divine light." I might add that it is a fractal of God, i.e., "a part containing something of the whole..." (ibid.).

This is why it takes all kinds to make a world; in other words, one unique individual reflects something of the absolute uniqueness of God, but we really need to add all of these singular persons together to get a sense of God's infinite uniqueness. Or in other other words, his creativity is literally inexhaustible.

But this is the ultimate source of man's value and dignity, that "The life of a person is something that has no possible substitute or exchange; nothing and no one can take its place" (ibid.).

Okay. What then do we do with this self? The "life line of the soul" is "the way of man's ascent to perfection; the more one rises, the closer one comes to the realization of the highest purpose of one's being" (ibid.). And of course we cannot do it without grace, even if we are one of those heroic do-it-yoursophers. Schuon has an interesting observation regarding the latter.

A grace-based approach such as Christianity relies on the easy yoke of surrender to nonlocal assistance. It is what you call other-powered. Conversely, the Buddhist exerts himself to eliminate everything that obscures ultimate reality, in particular, himself. Anyway, here is what Schuon says:

The “power of oneself" is "that of intelligence and of will seen from the point of view of the salvific capacity which they possess in principle," such that "man is freed thanks to his intelligence and by his own efforts..."

Conversely, "other power" "does not belong to us in any way," but "belongs to the 'Other' as its name indicates... in this context, man is saved by Grace, which does not however mean that he need not collaborate with this salvation by his receptivity and according to the modes that human nature allows or imposes on him."

Thus, in reality we must co-upperate with this Other Power. And at the same time, for Self Power to be fruitful, "it is necessary that such an effort be blessed by a celestial Power, hence a 'power of the Other.'”

So if you follow, it's the same Self-Other complementarity looked at from different angles. Thus on the one hand, Jesus' yoke is easy, but on the other, the road is difficult and the gate narrow. And the Buddha's approach is a grind, but there are helpful bodhisattvas everywhere.

Let's go back to our auto-pneumography, ↺. Steinsaltz suggests that "the sinner is punished by the closing of the circle, by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates" -- beginning in this life, but more importantly, continuing into the next.

I have a question. I am in some ways so different from the way I was 20 or 30 years ago, that oldBob, or my former Bob's, seem like different people. Although I remember some, if not all, of the things Bob did, I find it literally impossible to "enter" his person and understand what he was like. I have no idea what occupied his mind, what he talked about, what really motivated him.

This must go to the question of the Felicitous Death, or ontological discontinuity, we must all sopher along the way, but I'm just about out of time, so we'll pick up this cross tomorrow...

6 Comments:

Blogger Allena-C said...

"I have a question. I am in some ways so different from the way I was 20 or 30 years ago, that oldBob, or my former Bob's, seem like different people. Although I remember some, if not all, of the things Bob did, I find it literally impossible to "enter" his person and understand what he was like. I have no idea what occupied his mind, what he talked about, what really motivated him."

I can certainly relate to that.

4/19/2016 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

"This is why it takes all kinds to make a world; in other words, one unique individual reflects something of the absolute uniqueness of God, but we really need to add all of these singular persons together to get a sense of God's infinite uniqueness. Or in other other words, his creativity is literally inexhaustible.

But this is the ultimate source of man's value and dignity, that "The life of a person is something that has no possible substitute or exchange; nothing and no one can take its place" (ibid.)."

When I think about God's creativity being literally inexhaustible irt humans, it truly is awesome! I don't have to do anything to be special in the eyes of God, I already am.
Everyone is a work of art that evolves into a greater work of art. Or at least we are free to choose to be.

4/19/2016 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The “power of oneself" is "that of intelligence and of will seen from the point of view of the salvific capacity which they possess in principle," such that "man is freed thanks to his intelligence and by his own efforts..."

What could possibly go wrong?

4/19/2016 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if one could enter into the younger self, one might find that self occupied with the intrusion.
Go too far and one would be born a savant. Add in the voices in the head and one would end up with that whole mad prophet routine.

Probably would not play well in the modern world. Rules of Order, and such.

4/19/2016 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I wonder if we aren't always putting self to death. It's a series -- monster-of-the-week. Watch the movie "The Hitcher" with Rutger Hauer and the kid with three names. The bad guy keeps popping up and coming back and the only person who can put him down for good is the kid. It's a cheesy movie in some ways, but I watch it as an allegory for what we are trying to purge ourselves of.

We kill off a self in self-improvement, but we have to deal with the unintended consequences of the new, improved self. So we end up putting that one down, too.

We can't replace it with just a void. Something positive has to fill it, but it has to be empty for the filling to take place. God can fill your cup with coffee, but you have to dump out whatever is in there first. And it ought to be clean enough that it doesn't taint the fresh life. That can become quite a complicated operation.

4/19/2016 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"And of course we cannot do it without grace, even if we are one of those heroic do-it-yoursophers."

HA?=!!! A new favorite.

4/19/2016 02:58:00 PM  

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