Ground and Principle
Which I've noticed before in the most frightfully intelligent writers -- that they tend to ramble, repeat themselves, and generally think out loud, thus taxing the reader's patience. This is no doubt a problem of editing; either the lowly editor doesn't understand what the writer is saying, or he is too intimidated to confront him. After all, if the editor could understand everything the Great Man is saying, and express it in a more focussed and succinct manner, he'd be even greater.
I'm noticing the same thing with Churchill, now that I'm moving beyond the immortal phrases and passages, down into the weeds from which they were plucked. Once you do this, the brilliance-to-banality ratio isn't quite so one-sided.
At the other extreme are Dávila and Schuon, for whom each sentence is as if chiseled from granite. I would love to write a book in which each sentence was as concise as Dávila and as penetrating as Schuon. I even have a title for this imaginal book: Ground and Principle. You could say that it would consist of principles that penetrate all the way to the ground; or illuminate the ground from which the principles flow.
For example, yesterday's post touched upon Eckhart's conception of the divine ground, which is close to mine. The best explication of this is in McGinn's The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing.
This is not a book I "learned from" per se. Rather, it was more a shock of recognition, or what I call a vertical recollection. You know the feeling: although in one sense the material may be "new," the sensation is quite distinct, like a key fitting into a door, or the cosmic slot machine paying off. Like this:
Here is Corbin repeating his main point about the nature of the divine ground in man: "the divine form hidden in your being" is "the secret primordial Image in which He knows himself in you and by you, the image you must contemplate in order to become aware that 'he who knows himself knows his Lord.'"
This Image is paradoxically "the same" and "different" from ourselves. Or better, it is "not the same," and yet, "not different": "you know yourself with another knowledge, different from that which you had when you knew your Lord by the knowledge you had of yourself." If I understand him correctly, it's like transitioning from your meager image of God to God's more explosive image of himself in you.
"They [God and man] are not two heterogeneous beings, but one being encountering himself," or a "bi-unity" in which "the same ardent Desire is the cause of the Manifestation and the cause of the Return." Thus, you could say that the ultimate ground of being is this go-round of being from God to man and back again.
Which no doubt sounds cute or annoying or mystagogic, but sitting before me on my desk is a xeroxed passage from Peter Kreeft's Summa of the Summa, which I recognized (via recognosis) the moment I laid eyes on it:
"[T]he overall scheme of the Summa, like that of the universe, is an exitus-redditus, or an exit from and a return to God, Who is both Alpha and Omega. God is the ontological heart that pumps the blood of being through the arteries of creation into the body of the universe, which wears a human face, and receives it back through the veins of man's life of love and will."
And knowledge. Or, let's say the ardent desire for, and love of, truth.
In any event, the structure -- or better, ground -- of the creation is "dynamic. It is not like information in a library, but like blood in a being."
Ooooh. That's a bingO!
For it is God who... is the Source and Origin which yearned precisely for this determinate Form, for his own anthropomorphosis. Thus love exists eternally as an exchange, a permutation between God and creature.
Ardent Desire, compassionate nostalgia, and encounter exist eternally, and delimit the area of being. Each of us understands this according to his own degree of being and his spiritual aptitude. --Henry Corbin