Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Advice for the Spiritual Pathlete

So Kierkegaard, to his credit, "wished to make people think for themselves, use independent judgment and act with deliberate choice," "based upon his realization that existential truth -- truth that can potentially transform a person's outlook and manner of living -- couldn't be communicated directly in an effective manner" (Watts).

Very much like psychotherapy, through which one is endeavoring to facilitate realizations on the part of the patient.

Realization. Funny word. It means we must somehow "make real" what is by definition already real. I first realized the gnotion when I encountered Bion back in 1985. For him, the whole problem was how to realize truths that could only be understood via experience.

It's the difference between theory and truth, or model and reality. Now, the mind lives on truth and starves without it. But the higher up the scale of knowledge, the more it is entwined with experience. Down low, anyone with average intelligence can understand math or physics or Marxism.

But up high, there are certain qualifications that no degree can confer -- for example, oh, humility, trust, reverence, submission. In other words, there is an element of preparation, just as with any other athlete. For we are spiritual pathletes, and the Spirit is the pneumotherapist.

Note that when dealing with profane knowledge, the quicker the better. A synonym for intelligent is "quick." Likewise, we call a poor student "slow."

That doesn't apply at all in the spirit or even psychic world. Bion writes that

A patient may see the meaning of an interpretation so quickly that the psychoanalyst is surprised to find a moment later that the patient has apparently no understanding of what has been said to him. The speed of his thought makes him able to closure the statement being discussed before he has had time to understand it.

Which goes to the problem of assimilation, or even metabolism -- of chewing and digesting. The kind of truth we are talking about cannot merely be known. Indeed, orthopardoxically, as it pertains to the pneumosphere, knowledge can be one of the key defenses against understanding.

Which is why garden-variety infertile eggheadery simply has no purchase in this dimension. There is no book one could write, no matter how inexhaustibly packed with truth, that a person can't get around. The ways of denial are infinite.

Which is again why Jesus... Well, I don't want to put words in his mouth or motives in his head, but this must be a big reason why he didn't simply write a book and toss it out there. Wouldn't that have been easier? "Here. Here's the truth. Now, commit it to memory and go on with your lives."

But man's Problem isn't found in a book, so the Solution won't be found there either. You know the old gag: you can't reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into.

And surely Adam wasn't reasoned into anything. Rather, he was simply obeying the dictates of his own nature. He didn't need the book. Rather, he was on personal terms with the Author, so he got the Word from the source's mouth and ignored it anyway.

What is the point of that story? What are we supposed to realize? Among others, it surely goes to the many things man can do with truth other than assimilating it.

The purpose of words is to "contain" meaning. But God by definition transcends -- or shatters is more like it -- any such containment. So, how do we... Bion recognized the same problem in psychology:

"The verbal expression can be so formalized, so rigid, so filled with already existing ideas that the idea I want to express can have all the life squeezed out of it."

Conversely, "the meaning I wish to express may have such force and vitality, relative to the verbal formulation in which I strive to contain it, that it destroys the verbal container." On the one hand, meaning that is dead on arrival; on the other, speech that is dead at conception.

How do we get around this? As you know, Bion is the fellow who stole the idea of O from me in a brazen act of anticipatory plagiarism. He adopted "the approach of mystics from the Bhagavad Gita to the present" and put forth the central postulate "that atonement with ultimate reality, or O, as I have called it to avoid involvement with an existing association, is essential to harmonious mental growth."

Note how Bion "rediscovers" the same old Fall: "Disturbance in capacity for atonement is associated with megalomaniac attitudes." You don't say.

Or better, you need to unsay what cannot be said -- which isn't the same as not saying it.

Interesting that just after this passage, Bion goes into a cryptic little riff on threeness: "When the individual is confronted with what, in comparison with himself, is an infinite number or quantity, he binds the 'innumerable' host by the name 'three'" such that "the 'infinite' number has now been made finite."

In my view, -- which of course could be wrong -- the One and the Three are complementary. Not to say the Trinity is finite, only that it is... how to put it... a kind of container of infinitude? Certainly it is a way for humans to "think about" an infinitude that otherwise cannot be thought, taught, or got, only sought. But not unproductively....

7 comments:

ted said...

"The verbal expression can be so formalized, so rigid, so filled with already existing ideas that the idea I want to express can have all the life squeezed out of it."

Here's a perfect example of it: I just caught this video where Stefan Molyneux listens to a caller bring in mysticism as a complement to logic. He can't go there, and tries to formalize everything with definitions and quantifiable outcomes. Left brain meets right brain and goes nowhere.

doug saxum said...

on the other, speech that is dead at conception.

How do we get around this?

Music is the key

Gagdad Bob said...

Concur with Ted: right can contain left, but the converse is impossible.

Gagdad Bob said...

Music is certainly one key; beauty in general is a skeleton key.

doug saxum said...

It's no wonder that Hollywood went down the drain. When the left takes over entertainment, the profane rules their "art".

Gagdad Bob said...

I like to think that this blog is as useless and/or useful as a song.

julie said...

Which is again why Jesus... Well, I don't want to put words in his mouth or motives in his head, but this must be a big reason why he didn't simply write a book and toss it out there. Wouldn't that have been easier? "Here. Here's the truth. Now, commit it to memory and go on with your lives."

Considering how many ways people misunderstand the books that we do have, I shudder to think of the ways man would do violence to such a direct word from above.