Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Remembrance of Things Surpassed

The divine--or whatever you wish to call it--drops mysterious "depth charges" into history. Like pebbles falling into a pool of water, they then reverberate through horizontal time, leading all the way to the shore we know as the present moment. Although we can only see the ripple, there is something of the original pebble in the ripple, no matter how distant from the original impact. If we know how to do so, we can follow these ripples right back up to their vertical source.

There is no outside without an inside. Tradition preserves the "outside" of the ripple as it makes its way through history. Esotericism, in whatever form, tries to penetrate into the inside. It does this through the development of a latent faculty known as the nous, or intellect, and through an activity called gnosis or intellection.

This gnosis is not to be confused with "gnosticism," which is a particular teaching that existed on the periphery of Christianity during its early centuries. Nor is it to be confused with the Da Vinci Code nonsense that we are hearing so much about.

Rather, gnosis is simply an extension of knowledge beyond the empirical and rational domains. Many religious people seem to think it is "dangerous" to talk about gnosis. Actually, it is dangerous not to talk about it, because in so doing we lose the ability to even discuss one of the most important aspects of religion: that it is a realm of real knowledge, and that this knowledge is knowable. After all, if it is not knowable, then it is not knowledge. It's just "belief"--which is exactly what the secular world wishes to reduce it to.

As a matter of fact, this is why most intellectuals would say that religion involves neither knowledge nor knowing: it is merely nonsense about nothing believed by a bunch of nobodies.

One of primary purposes of this blog is to set things aright and to demonstrate that this is not the case--that religious knowing--gnosis--involves an intellectual development far beyond that of the typical secular intellectual. For, to express what amounts to a metaphysical tautology, the acquisition of knowledge implies no limit to itself. To put it another way, to say that we can know anything at all, means that it is possible to know anything in principle. It's just a matter of knowing how. (Actually, it's a combination of know-how and be-who, for gnosis, as we shall see, is inseparable from being.)

In our postmodern climate, this undoubtedly sounds like an outrageous claim, but I can easily prove that these critics are wrong. Either knowledge is possible or it is not. I have no quarrel with a doctrinaire postmodernist who claims that no knowledge is possible. At least they are consistent. They can go away now. I won't even deal with them.

But for those who do believe that knowledge is possible, but limited only to what they know, where do they get off? In other words, they say that the things they know are knowable, but that some other things they do not know are unknowable. But no knowledge of the first type allows them to make the second statement. That is, the statement that "no metaphysical knowledge is possible" clearly does not follow from the statement "knowledge is possible." In fact, "knowledge is possible" is a deeply metaphysical statement.

The fact of the matter is, as I explained in my book, to say that we can know anything at all about the universe--to affirm that the universe is intelligible--is to make a hidden but quite revolutionary statement about the nature of human consciousness and its relationship to the cosmos as a whole. Make no mistake--once you say that human beings may acquire knowledge, you have forged a link between the human mind and the Absolute.

Take a banal example: energy = mass multiplied by the square of the velocity of light. Physicists will tell you that this represents absolute knowledge. If it is knowledge, then it is true, for "false knowledge" is an oxymoron. And it does not represent "observed" knowledge--no one can observe the speed of light. Rather, it comes close to representing a kind of pure knowledge. Knowledge is one thing. But to know that you know it means that there is no boundary between knower and known. In knowing you know, the "you" that knows is also the you that is known.

You cannot arrive at this conclusion--that we know and know that we know--by reason. Reason alone cannot prove the existence of truth. Rather, reason can only operate on premises that are supplied by the senses or by some other conclusion that has been arrived at through reason. Reason does not generate the raw data through which it operates. Even in dealing with simple problems, the philosopher Michael Polanyi demonstrated that we are guided by a higher form of instantaneous, non-rational knowing that tells us where to look to find problems that seem worth investigating and solving with reason to begin with.

Here again we see that reason is a tool of the intellect that surpasses it. Gnosis simply involves applying that same process to a higher realm from which the intellect originates, and which is known in a direct and unmediated way. In other words, the existence of what we call "God" is not proven through reason or logic--again, logic can only prove what is entailed in its premises. It is much more analogous to sensory knowledge. If you can see or touch something, no one is going to ask you to first prove the existence of sight or touch. Rather, sensory perception is simply "given."

It is the same way with gnosis. What frustrates the rank-and-file intellectual is that knowledge of God--gnosis--is ultimately "given" in the same way. Its validity can be "proven" in the same way that sensory perception can be proven, in the sense that it is obvious to the person who has it. The reasoning mind builds its argument in a linear way, eventually arriving at a conclusion. But the higher mind perceives directly and spontaneously--the same way you know that you know.

It is much more akin to the way, say, you perceive beauty in music. In so doing, there is no gap between the music, the beauty, and the mind that inuits the beauty directly. But how could you ever prove to the person who doesn't perceive the beauty that the beauty is indeed there? It would be like trying to explain to a blind man why you shouldn't wear brown shoes with a tuxedo.

Let's take the analogy one step further. In perceiving the beauty in a work of art, where does the beauty ultimately reside? Beauty is the splendor of the true, and seeing either truth or beauty ultimately comes down to a case of like knowing like--of the intellect knowing its own substance reflected back to itself through a particular medium. The uncorrupted intellect is spontaneously oriented toward the good, the true and the beautiful, so that knowing any of these things ultimately involves a kind of remembrance of itself. It is vertical remembrance--not a remembrance of things past, but of things surpassed.


Lisa said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but don't they use the words "to know" in the Bible as a metaphor for sexual union?

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, and that's a very good point. For gnosis involves a kind of union that bridges the dualistic divide between knower and known.

Petey said...

In Buddhism I believe they call it "one taste," for what is the difference between the taste and the taster when, say, you're eating a chocolate chip cookie baked by Gerard Vanderleun's mother?

Hoarhey said...

Bob said:

But for those who do believe that knowledge is possible, but limited only to what they know, where do they get off?

I was thinking in general of the absolute egotism of some people I've met through the years with this mentality. For most, the statement is made out of ignorance and the perceived impossibily that they themselves would be able to intuite such deep knowledge. Then there are those intellectuals who actually cut themselves off from the source because, in their minds, there is nothing on earth greater than themselves and their brain power. They are the pinnacle. With no God and having risen haphazardly from the promordial ooze, hey, why wouldn't they be the pinnacle?
There is a lifeless numbness to these people particularly when they get older and an pervasive envy that envelopes them. They seem to wish to vanquish the God-spark in others around them with an "If I can't have it, neither will you" attitude. Sort of like communists (Nikita Kruschev comes to mind) who can't understand why their best intellectual/social constructs haven't proven to the world their genius and put the United States into the dust bin of history(but they keep on trying).
Or the intellectual/author who won't even speak to you because you haven't read his book and oviously would have nothing intelligent to say.
Or the child molester who perversly wishes to consume that life spark in a young child and ends up extinguishing it. Evil.

Lisa said...

Thanks, Petey! Now I just want some cookies for breakfast! And don't think I haven't done that before....

So, all this talk about Gnosis reminds me of my favorite musical, Hedwig & The Angry Inch. I'm sure some Bobbleheads will find it vulgar, but I love that musical more each time I see it...It is playing live at the Roxy this month. As the consigliore/events planner, I felt I had to let everyone know and possibly put on your calender. Six inches forward and five inches back, I got an angry inch....

BTW, I just noticed the groovy pic of Bob on stage. Rock on, Bob! When's the next show?

Gagdad Bob said...


Spiritual envy. that is an excellent idea for a post.


That photo is Bob v.1980. If that Bob had somehow succeeded in the music world, this Bob would not be here. Frankly, he would probably be dead. For Bob has a strong dionysian streak that prefers the left hand path to God.

jwm said...

I begin every morning with my "coffee meditation." That is, I get out of bed about an hour before I'm really ready, and sit on the couch in the den with the first cup. Maybe it's cheating a little, but doing this I can easily drift about three quarters of the way back to sleep while my mind stays awake. It is when I'm in this middle world between sleep and wakefulness that I pray.
Why pray?
Because I "know" that something happens when I do. It's like the way you 'just know' that there is God- that all this is here for a reason, that there is something more than the horizontal realm of daily life. It's more than a hunch. You just know.
Similarly when I recently read through the gospels- for the first time I 'just knew' that this wasn't myth, or fiction. These guys were telling the truth. What I was reading was real.

I clicked on a link to a fellow's web site last night. He was a former skeptic who had come to faith. I was enjoying the read, and nodding in agreement with much of what he said.
Then he came to the business of sin. Sin as in lustful thoughts, anger at people, resentments, covetousness etc. The kind of things that have such a corrosive effect on one's inner being, but may or may not result in a sin of commision like theft or murder.
In his view these inner-sins were tallied up like so many misdemeanors and felonies against God. Without the intervention of Jesus, God would punish the bearer of these thought-sins with eternity in hell.
Something tells me that isn't quite how it works. I'm no theologian, and certainly no scholar, but that same "knowing" that makes the existence of God feel axiomatic, tells me that something has been lost in translation here. Darn. I have to run. Will? LLH? is my sense of "knowing" off base here?


Lisa said...

Literally, Thank God, you didn't make it in the music world. It is brutal. But I do hope you still pick up the guitar around the home stage once in a while. It is wonderful living in a home that has live music playing in it. Everyone needs their own soundtrack!!! ;0)

Gagdad Bob said...


To paraphrase the great Moses Maimonides, esotericism is here to liberate the discerning but perplexed man from those grave errors that arise as a result of the tyranny of the literal.

will said...

Bob y Bobbleheads -

With respect to "knowing" and gnosis, an approach from a different angle, ending up, of course, at the same place. This has the virtue of extreme simplicity. (as if I had a choice, heh) -

It stands to "reason" (with all the "givens" implied) that all of Creation, including us, had to be spun out of the substance of the Godhead. it could not have come from anything else, certainly not from nothing because "only nothing comes from nothing." For the Godhead to spin a Creation, It could only use its own substance, so to speak. There was nothing else from which to spin it.

Thus the Godhead had to die to its own indivisible Oneness in order to spin Creation. However, that Oneness was/is distributed among the myriad parts of Creation - which again, includes us. In a holographic universe, we thus must contain the essence of Oneness within ourselves, same as a drop of ocean water, while not the ocean itself, contains the essence of the the entire ocean.

Gnosis-wise then, we must know everything because we contain everything. As to what we are aware of with respect to the everything we contain - that is the degree to which we have a working gnosis. Even vegetation, animals, have gnosis because to an extremely limited degree, they have consciousnesss. We, on the other hand . . .

The more we go within, the more we unite ourselves with all of Creation, the Oneness; and the more we become aware of that which we already know.

will said...

jwm -

Far's I'm concerned, "sin" is anything that blocks one from fully manifesting God and the Light. Taken that way, one can sidestep the rather lurid imagery that has accrued, over the centuries, to the word "sin".

In terms of "punishment" - that too is a bit misleading. If you eat the wrong kinds of food, sans the vitamins you need, you pay the consequences. It's clinical. Same with matters of the Spirit. Feed it the wrong thing and there's gonna be blowback.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

WOW what a beautiful post today Bob! I loved it! It was very inspirational and you have such a knack with words to express it all so well. I loved the ripple of the rock! You always supply such good analogies!

I had a dear friend not to long ago tell me that they were a person of reason and therefore couldn't believe anything without seeing or touching. You know that --intellect reasoning for faith bit, anyway, I remember literally aching inside when I heard those words come out of his mouth, because this was not a young person, but someone that I had always seen as a very wise "older" person, someone that has been beyond your wildest dreams kinda successful in the horizontal, and yet in this conversation, I realised right then, that there was a "missing piece' in his life. But even as the conversation went deeper, I must admit, it was like you said Bob, "trying to explain to a blind man why not to wear brown shoes with a black tux" and so I remembered later that evening, in retrospect of course, about how many people looked at this person and envied all their worldy achievements and yet without the communion with 'THE SPIRIT' and having decided to 'wait a whole lifetime for reason and logic to fullfill' this person actually had less (spiritually) than some of those that had spent so much time envying him from afar.

I appreciate the things you shared with us today Bob and I truly can't imagine how lonely and powerless one must feel without having a relationship of their spirit with 'THE SPIRIT'

jwm, I agree with will on sin, in that it can be anything that separates us or stops our relationship with our Maker thats why we all struggle with keeping the commandments and yet try so hard to stay centered in pleasing God by geting back on our own feet each time we fail at breaking them. When I think about sin, I always go back to Paul, because what a testimony Saul/Paul was! Think about it, here was this man that was a murderer and killing Christians and God still took him and used him to do great things! From the testimony of Paul, I "know" that murder can be forgiven and that good things can grow and come from a wicked past if one is willing to be open to change and have a repentative heart. We all get so overwhelmed by our own sins, thinking that no one could have done anything any worse than those things which we have done, but I have come to the conclusion that God just wants us to stop our continuial sinning and have a repentive heart so that we can come back and have a "friendship" and a "communion" with Him. When we have the desire in our heart we will have a conscience put upon us to change. I know that the more in tune with that spirit, which is keeping us all on the narrow path, that I am tormented until I change whatever the action is that is pulling me away from God. It gnaws on me until I gotta get on my knees! It won't let up until I change and get up close and personal with God about the issue! So like Bob said in his post, it's definately knowledge that is things surpassed, because when when we turn off the gnosis or "Holy Spirit" or"The Spirit" or whatever name you have for it, we lose our "given wisdom" and "given guidence" and also that amazing "given comfort"

Sal said...

Will, dear
Not necessarily. That's one way to look at it, but Christians believe that "God needs no pre-existent thing or any help in order to create, nor is creation any sort of necessary emanation from the divine substance. God creates freely 'out of nothing'"
#296 Catechism of the Catholic Church

If I can paraphrase Flip Wilson: "He can create anything He want." And He is both inside and outside of that creation.

dilys said...

Will, all very interesting, FWIW one can be very grateful Eastern Orthodoxy, unlike several other approaches,
stops abruptly at the boundaries of the Christian revelation, and
practical ascetic practice. Reifying explanations is a quick trip to
misdirection. The consequences of these ideas are vast, the
formulations make a profound difference to heart and inner/outer practice down the line, and the implications whipsaw on ourselves and others. Dorothy Sayers
got quite testy on the subject of there being an art and science of
post-improvisation Christian theology, susceptible to and rewarding a methodological

A couple of cross-references on other subjects, without links, unfortunately.

"the philosopher Michael Polanyi demonstrated that we are guided by a higher form of instantaneous, non-rational knowing..." Neurological maps now show we "decide" about things instantaneously, whether from conditioning or intuition, then some nano-seconds later activate the explanation.

Limiting knowledge to the material senses. William James somewhere has the best argument that knowledge-seeking science has to consider all sources of knowledge, and then derive methods of assembling and testing each realm. That it's unscientific to let the tail wag the dog -- we don't know how to evaluate and measure, so call it out of bounds.

dilys said...

To follow up on Sal, I'm told there is a new Catholic Catechism, and, even better, a beautifully-produced introductory Compendium. Also a short introduction to the Catechism by the new Pope, who is a heartfelt and brilliant teacher.

Dogma isn't old men saying in impenetrable language "you can't," it's the guardrails for the trek up the mountain!

There may be other mountains, but there's a pretty clear map for this particular one. And on the very edges of the foothill paths, the discussions get interesting. They have to do mainly with aesthetic/philosophical differences about the most beautiful and restorative decor for the basecamps, and speculations about the architecture and governance of the City; but the climb, using similar tools, is not seriously impeded.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

God gives not the Spirit by measure.

Will said...

Sal -

>>"God needs no pre-existent thing or any help in order to create, nor is creation any sort of necessary emanation from the divine substance. God creates freely 'out of nothing'" <<

Of course, before Creation there was no "pre-existent thing". Nor was there "substance" though I did use that term, for lack of a better one. And it was, in a sense, a Creation "out of nothing" because before Creation there was nothing, although I think we can consider the Godhead before Creation to be as much a Void as a Something. It's really something we can't conceive.

Still, I hold to the concept that Creation came out of the Godhead by, as it were, a folding, a constriction of that which already existed - altho again, nothing really "existed" prior to Creation. Well, let's say that within the Godhead, all potentiality was pre-existent. This simply makes sense to me; further, I find that, in a way, it makes sacred our own microcosmic creativity as we make use of our existing divine potential to grow closer to God. We are made in the image of God, you know, and that's a concept that extends quite far.

I can understand the objection of some Christians to this approach because it seems to undercut the concept of the "all-powerful-ness" of God. Actually, I don't think it does, but that's me.

78 degrees here today. Now *that* seemed to come out of nowhere.

Will said...

Dilys -

re the new Pope and ongoing revelations: I'm gathering that Benedict is going to stand vis a vis Islam much the same as JP2 stood vis a vis the Soviet Union.

Benedict was reported as saying to some colleagues of his that the basic difference between Islam and Christianity is illustrated thusly: Mohammed received his revelations from the angel Gabriel in "dictational" form. They are thus unchanging dogma forever. Christ, on the other hand, was a living messenger, indicating the we all have the potentiality to be living messengers. Revelation then, is progressive, in a sense. it can change with the times, to a degree. Example: the rise of the "Blue Army", the Marionic chapter of the Church, which casts a new, revelatory light on the meaning of the Divine Feminine, Sophia, Wisdom, etc. Meanwhile, Islam holds the same perspective of women and the feminine that it did in the year 800 AD.

So, in a way, "dogma" is very useful, yea, necessary, until it becomes gnosis, and then there is no need for dogma.

ben usn (ret) said...

Darkness cannot stand Light.
Therein (darkness) lies hell.
We all have different images of hell.
Many quesion it's existance.
Is it a place, or state of mind/spirit?
Does it matter?
The point is, we want to be with God, Light, Truth, Love.
To go the opposite way, no matter what interpretation or acknowledgement one may have of it, isn't going to be pleasant, I'm thinking.

Excellent post, Bob.
I admire how you convey meaning with far fewer words than most (efficient and appropriate).
You are a master communicator, or MC for short.
McBob... Has a certain Irish ring to it. :^)

Lisa said...

I just got back from the Ashes and Snow exhibit on the pier. It was a really amazing and beautiful mixed-media collection of man and nature. It was very surreal because these were wild animals entwined with graceful humans. It seemed like the kind of relationship I have with my domesticated pets. There was also a nice contrast between movement and stillness in the collection. The building itself was made up of giant metal crates and canvas. The walkway was wood and giant pebbles are the floor under the photos. The building is a nomadic building and it packs up in itself. There were some "cryptic" lines narrated over the music at parts that were a bit too Gaia-like for me but nothing objectionable. I tend to disagree with many popular artists opinion and worldview but I am still enchanted with some of their work for the sake of beauty. I just block out their message if it is obnoxious. If you have a chance to see it, take the opportunity. Lots of elephants, leopards, hawks, orangutans, and other critters.

jwm said...

Hi folks.
I had to cut my post a little short. Had to take my mother to the hospital for some tests. Doctors love tests.
Bob, Will, LLH: thank you for the feedback.

I want to share a little twilight zone encounter that I had yesterday.
Bob was talking about role models among other things. It made me very aware of the lack of them in my life. I was thinking about that lack on and off throughout the afternoon.
My wife had a meeting so I was on my own for dinner. I have great Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, and Italian restaurants, not to mention the best hamburger in all of Whittier within walking distance of the house.

Why in the world, then, did I decide to drive across town to a coffee shop in LaHabra that I hadn't eaten at in over twenty years?

The place was once a Spires, and I used to eat there almost every day back in the seventies. Mediocre food, but lots of it for cheap.

I pulled into the parking lot. Very few cars. Not a good sign. What was I doing, trying to mine some nostalgia out of a once familiar hangout? I started the car, pulled out of the spot, and then turned right around and parked again.

The place was unchanged, and almost empty. I sat at the counter, and ordered the chicken dinner that I always used to get. I sipped the same insipid coffee. The muzak was all songs from the early- mid seventies. If I was looking for nostalgia I had tapped into a pretty rich vein.

I noticed an old guy sitting with a much younger woman at the other end of the counter. I looked again. Odd. What was the relation? Why were they at the counter when all the booths were empty?

I thought about my freshman year in high school. Cross-country. Track. Being on the team. Blue Monday workouts. Dawn patrol. We'd all bring eggs, bacon, and bread, and stuff with us to the six AM workout. We ran while coach Sutton fried us up breakfast on his Coleman camp stove.
Coach Sutton had the magic. He was tough as nails, and you willingly worked your ass off for him. He used to hold the promise out to us last-placers: Do your fifteen miles a day, and one day you'll make Varsity. We believed.

Where was this coming from? I looked at the old man at the other end of the counter. Holy cow. No. Yes. No. Yes. I finished dinner and got up and washed my hands. I had to know.

"Excuse me", I said. "But are you Jim Sutton by any chance?"
As soon as he turned to me I knew it was. "I was on your cross-country team back in 1966." Of course he did not remember me. But he did remember others from those years. I told him that being on that team was probably the best thing that happened to me in high-school. We made some small talk about class reunions. I sat down and finished my desert. He and his daughter got up to leave. I noticed he walked with a limp, and one hand was curled in a semi-fist. As I paid my bill the hostess told me he was still recovering from a recent stroke.

Role model.


LiquidLifeHacker said...

I wish I could have enjoyed it with ya Lisa, I would have loved the flying elephants. The thing I love about the exotic animals of Africa is the hope of one day being able to be part of an existence where children and the rest of us get to hang out with them like those surreal works of art. I watch the panda cam and always giggle and want to cuddle the wild one and I always think of that inheritance in the future to do so. Imagine hanging out with the lions and bears without that fear thing between us? To have mutual love to interact without a bite or snarl...Not because they are tamed by us but because they, along with us will be full of the knowledge of the LORD.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Cool story jwm...thanks for sharing heart always beams when we share like that...cause it's like I just had a beer with ya or we hung out for a coffee....but you know what? I think it was "pink floyd" from the last thread that got all the nostalgia thingy going on Hee Hee

I do think teachers and coaches make a big influence on our lives in ways they don't even realise. I am so glad that you went back there and hooked up in that memory and ya know what? I bet it really did something for that coach too because he got to see he is talking about it still.

wow how the spirit moves in mysterious ways....

now I have the U2 song hung in my head...hahahahhahaha

Lisa said...

Actually, the elephants are not flying, LLH. They are swimming with a man. It is filmed from underwater. Nothing is digitally enhanced. Simply breathtaking and breathholding!

That was a sweet story, JWM. I bet you made his day! It is great how teachers and counselors can have such a positive impact on young people without them really realizing it for many years.

Lisa said...

Ok, so here's a cute dumb blonde combined with religion joke...











Sal said...

Looking forward to the Compendium, which is on my "to Buy" list.

Don't get me wrong - I look at dogma as the beneficent structure within which we can improvise our own lives in many ways, not as a straitjacket.

What a coincidental analogy! If I had to explain what Bob might offer for - what shall we call ourselves? "not-so-much-seekers"? it would be that we're not looking to build a house, just pick up some refurbishing tips for the one we alread have. Paint the wall a new shade. Try that chair in this corner. Slipcovers? and so on...

"Pontifications" just had Sayers handing an agnostic scientist his head. Let me look for the link.

Rorschach said...

Beauty is in the I of the beholder.

Sal said...

The Sayers link:

jwm said...

Have we gone totally OT?
If so, my fellow seekers, I will offer for your amusement my own little corner of cyberspace. It is a serial toyshelf adventure detailing the trials and tribulations of a wily wizard and his insipid, but otherwise harmless sidekick. G-rated. Work safe. Kid safe.
Caution: a real story emerges from the silliness of the first few episodes. Some folks are hooked.
New episodes every Wednesday to help get you over the hump.


90 said...

Is this post like a tangent from the stir about this old gnostic gospel of Judas that has come out?

Sal said...

I'm not sure if this pertains to truth and beauty in art and gnosis, but here goes:

A couple of years ago, I was visiting the Kimball in Fort Worth. I'm a more visual than aural type and I love art museums. This one is particulary fine and I've been there fairly frequently over the years.

This visit, I was looking at a portrait of a Spanish official by Velasquez and was suddenly struck by a realization that this wasn't just an interesting work of art, but that it was a picture of an actual person who had once been as alive as all of us were that day.

It was like a window opened to a different world.
I had a real sense of what his life had more of less been like - that he'd awakened that day, his servant had probably said, "Don't forget Excellency - you have an appointment with Sr. Velasquez for your portrait", he'd gotten dressed in his robes of office and had to stand still in a specific spot of light and then gone home to dinner and to bed. All the ordinary things we take for granted, but find hard to imagine others in the past actually doing.
(Or perhaps everyone else already has this sense and I'm just a little slow.)

And there was the sense, too, of the artist's creative process.

It changed how I looked at history, literature, art, technology: practically everything.
Even in religion, it was suddenly easier to think of the saints, for eg., even more as persons than previously.

I tried to analyse why this particular painting? B/c I've looked at and been moved by a lot of art over the years, without a similar reaction. The subject isn't young or handsome or remarkable in any specific way. Velasquez is a genius and I've always liked his work, but no more so than other artists.
Why that work? Why that moment? I have no idea - but I am deeply grateful for the experience.

will said...

Sal, Dilys, anybody -

Just to continue on the previous theme, one that I think is important - well, to me, at any rate:

Understanding Creation as a 'sacrifice' on the part of the Godhead - that is, a willed surrendering of the indivisible Oneness in order to give birth to a Divine Partner - actually is important to me for the following reasons: One, it serves as the prototype for all divine sacrifice. As God sacrificed, so too must we "die to ourselves" (as Christ fully demonstrated)

Two, the concept of a Godhead surrendering Its own Oneness in order to give birth to a Divine Partner emphasizes Divine Love/Compassion. I don't think the concept of "Creation from nothing" - and I'm sorry, that just work for me at all - has the same Love/Compassion resonance.

Again, we are made in the image of God, and think our creative capabilities are a microcosm of the Divine Creative capabilities. A genius can create something seemingly "from nothing" - I'm thinking of Einstein's formulations that seemingly came out of left field and changed the way we looked at the world and the universe - but of course, it was not from "nothing" that Einstein formulated his theories. It was from unrealized potentiality that he did so.

As below/so above - the Godhead must have created from Its own unrealized, unactualized potentiality. Linear time, which can be equated with space, is, in a sense, a "limiting" of infinite time. Infinite time had to be the "pre-existent potentiality" out of which linear time was created. And the latter could only come into being by way of a limitation of the former.

Yeah, I actually sit around and dwell on this stuff between innings of baseball games.

Gagdad Bob said...

I wish I had time to join the discussion and respond to some of these thoughtful comments. Too busy for the time being.

However, I like what Sal said--I'll just keep tossing out the refurbishing tips, and let readers take it from there. Hopefully my slack will be restored soon.

And speaking of liberation from the house of bondage to the house of slack, we wish our Jewish readers an extremely vertical Passover.

jwm said...

I never thought of it that way-the godhead sacrificing its own unity to bring about the multiplicity of creation. A truly awesome notion.

(and I do mean awesome not 'way cool'.)


Kahntheroad said...

Ouch - it is Passover!

Oy, it seems the more 'spiritual' I become the more I lose track of these holy dates. It could also be this heathen city I'm in.

Funny, a few years ago I was backpacking in Europe with some friends and we were trying to take the train from Paris to Marseilles. It was our first experience on the Eurorail system and we were baffled at packed trains and the mobbed stations. We ended up sneaking onto a cars and trying to dodge the ticket takers until we got kicked off somewhere outside Lyon. As far as we knew it was just a random Sunday, and we were discouraged as to what this bode for the rest of the trip.

When we got to our destination our friend commented, off-hand, "Wow, it must have been tough traveling on Easter."

Ah, to be young, free and a heathen!



that was a beautiful story - I love that stuff!

Sal -

I had a somewhat similar artistic/spiritual epiphany a few years ago. I was at a friends place and he was playing some 13th century choral music for me (I think it was by Lasso...but I'm not quite sure). I was sitting there listening, and it wasn't necessarily something I would have listened to on my own at the time, but I stated to get into it and I closed my eyes. At some point the voices and the harmonies and the general spirit of the music gripped me - my brain started to tingle and, as I later explained it to my friend, I felt like I had been drawn into the [excuse the Spinoza reference, Bob ;) ] Infinite Substance. I suddenly felt the serenity of the simple rhythm of life in that time period, and I envisioned a favorite painting of mine from art history class - The Gleaners, by Millet.

It was one of a series of intense musical experiences that drove me to change my course in life.

Then, last year, as I was scavenging flea markets and thrift shops to decorate my new room, specifically looking for items to inspire my songwriting, I was in the Goodwill store down the block and came across - of all things - a cheapo reproduction of 'The Gleaners' for $3. I'm looking at it right now, above my writing table.


Anonymous said...

On Knowing: to paraphrase Shunryu Suzuki:"You only have to know three things. You have to know what you know. You have to know what you don't know. Then you have to know the difference."

In my experience the first is less difficult than the second and the third is the most difficult to internalize

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Ha Ha Lisa, now did you really believe that I thought those huge elephants were flying?

I had already gone to the website you had shared and took a peek! *giggles*

I just think that any surreal image like the ones you saw in the exhibit of wild beast in fluid harmony with people is in a way a reflection of things to come when all of our lenses will look through the knowledge of the Lord.

In other words...that kinda thing is gonna take place one day!

Lisa said...

Ha Ha LLF, you mean Dumbo is not real? I just wanted you to be aware that those were the actual shots and nothing was digitally imposed to create surreal poses.

I do await that day, though. I have always wanted to fly and had one very vivid dream, so far, in my life where I have experienced it...