Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Secret Life of Objects and the Cosmic Strip Show

What is an object? I can tell you right off the bat that they aren't what most people think they are. Not just any old thing is qualified to be an object of knowledge. Rather, objects must have very special qualities in order for them to exist at all. For one thing, they must be knowable. And in order to be knowable, a subject is required.

In other words, the object serves as an occasion for our knowledge about it -- without which, neither the object nor the subject can ever emerge from the background of being. Or so it says in my margin notes. But what the hell was I talking about? That is the question.

Here's the problem. I think. On the one hand, we have the Kantian tradition that says that we can't even really know objects at all, only forms of our own sensibility; in short, we are like people inside of a submarine who only interact with various screens and gauges (i.e., our nervous system and its innate categories), but never actually touch the water. Whatever reality is in itself, we haven't a clue. Rather, we have access only to appearances, the phenomena, while the noumenon is forever dark and silent.

On the other hand, we have the naive "realists" (who should really be called "sub-realists") who conflate perception and reality without ever contemplating the metaphysical problems that arise from such a view -- for example, the relationship between mind and matter, and what kind of ontology permits the former to possess valid knowledge of the latter, or how object and subject become "one" in the act of knowing. The problem here, as described by Wolfgang Smith, is that this form of crude realism

"has no place for man, the human witness," so there is no explanation for "even the humblest act of perception." What is implicitly denied is "the very essence of man, which is the Intellect, the faculty by which he knows. If there were not within man something that transcends the cosmos in its entirety, something literally 'not of this world,' he would not be the witness in relation to whom the cosmos exists as an object..."

In fact, oddly enough, the scientistic world can never actually be known at all, for the simple reason that, once sundered into the cartesian categories of res extensa (the physical world) and res cogitans (the thinking being), there is no way to join them back together. But thankfully, as explained in the Coonifesto, modern physics has finally put this dysfunctional worldview to rest, for as Smith says, the so-called paradoxes of quantum mechanics are "simply Nature's way of repudiating a spurious philosophy."

Smith references Whitehead, who pointed out that knowledge is ultimate. If it isn't, I dare you to try and prove it with knowledge, knave! It's as if the materialist has his nose pressed against a black wall, behind which is "reality." Which is an absurd proposition.

No. We cannot make this knower and its knowledge go away that easily, unless we attend college. And even then, it usually requires several years of graduate school to complete the job.

I'll get back to Balthasar in a second, but Smith makes the utterly sound point that to absolutize the cosmos -- as materialists do -- is to exile the knower from the world, precisely. And there is no way to get him back in.

But the Scattered Brotherhood of the Eternal Wisdom -- i.e., Coondom -- does not see it this way. Rather, where the postmodern barbarians see either irreconcilable duality or a naive material monism, we see a sempiternal complementarity in which world and witness co-arise and mutually deepen one another. Anything short of this will be an incomplete cosmology, for it will exclude the very means by which the cosmos is known to itself!

Ultimately, the cosmos cannot be more real than our knowledge of it. Rather, it is that knowledge. This does not mean that we open our eyes and magically create the physical world, as the spiritually retarded Deepaks of the world believe. Rather, what it means is that there are various worlds implicated in the cosmos, and that only an act of knowing can "draw them out," so to speak; a way of knowing brings a world into being. (And as I have mentioned in the past, an authentic religion is most definitely a valid means of knowing worlds that transcend the senses. In fact, that is what they are here for.)

This is why I can affirm with complete confidence that, for example, the leftist inhabits a very different world than the one I inhabit. However, my world easily transcends and contains his little world, which is why my world is the more real. I know this because I once inhabited that little world, just as I once inhabited the world of the fetus, the toddler, the adolescent, the adultolescent, back to the adolescent, the angry leftist (I know, a distinction without a difference) and eventually the adult.

Anyway, back to Balthasar. Just remember, "We know the cosmos to the extent that we know ourselves; we are able, indeed, to know the outer world precisely because it corresponds to the inner" (Smith). And the inner world contains layers and levels unknown to the village atheist.

For Balthasar, truth is the unveiledness of being, which surely implies "a relation to the subject to which it is in fact unveiled." This amounts to the same thing I discussed above. Thus, it is only when this unveiling has occurred, "that being is inwardly illumined and measured." Furthermore, "measure and light are the two properties of truth, and they are inseparable."

You might say that we can only measure objects because they have already been measured within the infinite Subject. Thus, "a being that was not known by God could not be known by a finite subject, for the simple reason that it would not exist in the first place.... [B]eing unknown by God, it would have no measure for its being and thus no truth."

As above, so below. The same way that a cosmos comes into being for us through an act of knowing, it is precisely God's knowing-in-truth that is the origin of this hierarchical, many-layered, glass-onion cosmos, so that things and facts are always more than themselves. You might say that the cosmos stands naked before God, whereas for us it is veiled and reveiled in an endlessly O-luring manner. Thank God! For as Alan Watts once said in a slightly different and probably drunken context, when the stripper removes the last veil, she has surrendered what is left of her erotic mystery.

Nothing is knowable that doesn't already stand in the weird light that shines in the dark but which the dorks don't comprehend. Again: we do not measure God; rather, God is the measure of us, and of everything else. And the measure of a human being is uniquely located and disclosed in time, which is the time it takes for us to become who we are, which, if you are following me, has already been "measured by God." We just have to know into it. To conform ourselves to our divine essence is to live in a portion of the divine light that has been made-to-measure just for us.


julie said...

This does not mean that we open our eyes and magically create the physical world, as the insane Deepaks of the world believe.

As I once noted to DH, the existence of Alanis Morrisette proves that I didn't create the world.

Thus, it is only when this unveiling has occurred, "that being is inwardly illumined and measured." Furthermore, "measure and light are the two properties of truth, and they are inseparable."

Just wanted to see it again :)

Aquila said...

OT: More darkness visible (sexuality divorced from love, affection, or even mere lust)

Gagdad Bob said...

Amazing what can be accomplished when Deepak Chopra and Larry Flynt put their heads together.

julie said...

From the article,

"Elana Auerbach, an original resident, who left the group with Bill Press, who is now her husband, said the upshot of Ms. Daedone’s ability to become exactly the person an individual yearns for is that “they take on Nicole, exude Nicoleness.”

“You stop trusting yourself and start trusting Nicole,” she said."

Seems on topic to me, Aquila, as another demonstration of inverted truth.

walt said...

A few days ago there was a little conversation on the periphery of OC that touched on the nature of the True Path, or the True Way. I was mulling the fact that people come to God from such divergent directions and angles.

Lacking any sort of formal religious background in the past, I did have some familiarity with metaphysics -- not like you, but on my own level of understanding. One principle that always had the ring of truth to it was "as above, so below." And as I was thinking about the various paths people take, it occurred to me that that one principle, probably more than anything else, has been a "guiding light" to me over the years.

Around that principle I have organized "the cosmos," and from that principle I have derived the "catalyst" that helped my understanding grow.

Accordingly, when you write:
"...we see a sempiternal complementarity in which world and witness co-arise and mutually deepen one another. Anything short of this will be an incomplete cosmology, for it will exclude the very means by which the cosmos is known to itself!"

... and quote:

"We know the cosmos to the extent that we know ourselves; we are able, indeed, to know the outer world precisely because it corresponds to the inner" (Smith).

... I can only say, "Ys! And thank you very much for One Cosmos" -- for shining your fleshlight on these concepts, and moving their meaning to front. The reconciling, the integration, and the illumination -- heck, the agreement! -- is surely a treat.

River Cocytus said...

Bob, O man, you have to read this

Anglicans in Exile

I know we're Origen-friendly around here, but he pretty well explains where Origen 'falls off the cosmic bus' or so to speak. That is, the limits of his teachings.

Anyway, agree or disagree, it's quite amazing. A key point is that God is not absolutely one, but absolutely one-and-many. The only way for this to be is if both his unity in essence and plurality in persons are essential, and 'persons' are not just instances of a nature, but something essential on a different 'axis' or so to speak.

What do you think of this distinction? Is it more in line with Taoist/Vendantist natural theology (Zero->One->two->three->ten thousand)

... or?

I don't get all of it, but man. Crazy interesting.

Gagdad Bob said...

I don't have time to read it at the moment, but let's just say I am a non-dual trinitarian or trinitarian non-dualist. In short, a not-two threeist.

Gagdad Bob said...

As far as I know, at least in contemporary times, this doctrine was most ably developed and lived by Swami Abhishiktananda.

Northern Bandit said...

As though we needed further proof that the Left is the indefatigable champion of rank evil throughout the world, and throughout the centuries.

It's not just "our perspective" versus "their perspective". They are objectively evil (the hard Left that is -- the soft Left just plays evil on TV).

Van said...

"In other words, the object serves as an occasion for our knowledge about it -- without which, neither the object nor the subject can ever emerge from the background of being. Or so it says in my margin notes. But what the hell was I talking about? That is the question. "

Ok, A.D.D. moment here, just started reading, but want to blurt this out. An interesting, to me anyway, corollary (though not causative) from the programming world, specifically Object Oriented Programming, is something which often causes confusion to new 'initiates' trying to get a handle on what is, and is not, an object.

There is something called a Class (you could think of as a concept), which defines the actions and properties that objects created from it will have and perform within the application.

In an app, it could be a 'Print' object, which receives a document, is told or knows which printer to print from, and then prints your doc - but the original 'Print' Class, isn't an object itself, the class is what objects are defined from and finally are created or 'instantiated' from, but there is only one 'Print' Class and it never exists as an Object, it only defines the original state an object will have, and there can be many, many, many 'Print' objects defined and created from that 'Print' Class... but that Class will never 'exist' in the application.

Telling your app you are going to handle this 'Print' class, and defining it in a line of code something like 'Dim objPrint as Print', makes it possible to create, have and use the 'Print' object, even many of them, but the Object isn't yet an Object, it doesn't yet exist until you actually create it and bring it into being for Printing.

How is that at all relevant?

Well, the way it first struck me in having an interest in philosophy and programming, someone could develop a 'Courage' concept, they could examine all the actions and properties that Courage is known to have. He could even define himself as having 'Courage' ("Courage" interests me, and I know much about it, and so I think I will have 'Courage'). But until that person puts 'Courage' into action, instantiates it into his actual life and behavior, stands up for and defends his beliefs, for instance, in front of a gathering of cackling leftists, he hasn't ever experienced 'Courage', he has defined it, adopted it, but has not brought 'Courage' into his life as an object he can interact with.

Faith would need to travel the same route, from understanding, aspiring to, and putting into practice (a low level example "I understand that what is Right IS real, and doing what is Right is more important to my life and soul, than taking this money that person dropped - I could certainly use it, but it wouldn't be Good, Beautiful or True, and I have Faith that I will be better and better off, giving that money back to the person who dropped it") - until then, they have not instantiated or interacted with Faith or Courage, IN their life, those Objects have not been brought into being, until then.

Ok, sorry for the diversion, back to the post....

Anonymous said...

"We cannot make this knower and its knowledge go away that easily."
"World and witness co-arise and mutually deepen one another."

Right on!

One thing I know with uncompromising certainity, is that acting in concert with Universal Harmony opens the doors of Divine Possibilities directly impacting one's soul with Divine Vitality.

Short journal entry dated May 94' -something in my wildest dreams I didn't imagine I would share one day - "Saw my Etheric aura!!! Electric blue!"
In different pen-ink adding below, "by August saw my golden light aura."

Heck, if at first I wasn't convinced it was some kind of fluke-seeing which next time 'round would be poofgone!

By then I have heard about "aura" but actually seeing it? "nah, it must be a symbolic speak.

For two weeks I kept checking (in mirror, visible in certain lighting only) if it was still visible. . . Then one day it occured to me to ask my twin sons to take their shirts off and have a look-see. One kept pocking his finger into it with "oh kool! oh kool!". The other, after some moments of tear-filled gazing at this "ribbon of blue light next to the skin" asking "what is it?"

Scriblled Bob-quote from several months back "Our phisical bodies are 100% in this reality as a symetric harmonic function, but only half of our "warped" spiriling self is presnt on this side of the porous boundry with the other half remaining "transcendend" on "the other side of reality."
"There is an infinite spiral punching a hole inside the nucleus of every atom to hold it together."

Right on!


Robin Starfish said... is precisely God's knowing-in-truth that is the origin of this hierarchical, many-layered, glass-onion cosmos, so that things and facts are always more than themselves.

Each part is greater than the sum, which is greater than the sum of the parts. The cosmos is an inexhaustible work of art.

Skin Deep
diving deeper still
our friend finds forms within forms
inside the inside

ge said...


Did I create that sky? Yes, for, if it was anything
other than a conception in my mind I wouldnt have
said "Sky"-That is why I am the golden eternity. There are not two of us here, reader and writer, but one, one golden eternity, One-Which-It-Is, That-Which-


That sky, if it was anything other than an illusion
of my mortal mind I wouldnt have said "that sky."
Thus I made that sky, I am the golden eternity. I
am Mortal Golden Eternity....

Ricky Raccoon said...

A little OT, but not really…
Remember the one about the chimps, violins and Beethoven?
Well, it gets funnier.
Beethoven need not even have been born and we would still have The Late String Quartets.

Gagdad Bob said...

A little clip of Schuon speaking. Never heard his voice before.

julie said...

Thanks for the link, Bob. Too bad it's the only clip of him on there.

Now, whenever I read a quote by Schuon I'm going to picture his accent. It's interesting to see his body language as he speaks, too. One of the great things about this kind of video is how much information can be conveyed by and about the speaker that isn't actually spoken.

River Cocytus said...

Schoun's accent is delightful! Very thick, and he speaks slowly and with great consideration. He seems humble but tough, much like a certain Fr. Daniel I know.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, and you can also see how the words come from the inside out, i.e., O-->(n).

I also recommend the five talks by Nasr, for example, on why people do not "get" Schuon.

Gagdad Bob said...

Remarkably, as Nasr explains, Schuon thought in German and wrote in French, so quite a bit of distance is covered before it reaches English.

Ryan said...

Ironicaly Roger Ames, who in attempting to interpet the Dao De Jing in a secular/philosophical manner helped strip away layers of Western Philosophical Abstractions and Substance over Essence dulisms that has always served as an interpetive grid through which Westerners have always missread this text. This illuminated for me a Pre-Philosophic Cosmology of Process and Becoming that rejects the presuposition that our sense experience is an illusion.

This Process-ional / Corralitive Cosmology harmonizes so well with the Personal Cosmology and Doxilogical Ontology of Hebraic Temple Theology because, if Ames was able to uncover a pure ancient Chinese worldview, Fr Damacene was correct that the Daoists were correctly if imperfectly explicating natural revelation.

Therefore, it may be that immedeate Daoist Cosmology is more native to the Hebraic worldview of Biblical Revelation than latter and more abstract Platonic Cosmology. And the indiginous understanding of the Dao is closer to what the Scriptural idea of LOGOS really is than the logos of Greek Philosophy. In other words, instead of letting the Greek Philosophical Logos define the ancient Chinese Dao, we aught to let the ancient Chinese Dao correctly understood in its own context act as a corrective to our Greek Philosophical paradigm that has arrested our understanding of Biblical revelation.

Ryan said...

In our everyday experience we all continualy encounter a number of things that are particular and unique yet share certain characteristics that allow us to identify them as similer. For instance, you meet people of various sizes, shapes, and colors. Each is utterly unique and "one of a kind." Yet you are able to identify a collective identity or category that includes them all. Furthermore, things undergo radical change yet maintain their identity. If all of the molecules in my body have changed over the last twenty-seven years, then am I the same body, or even the same person I was when I was born? You may see many different cars. Some have four wheels and others have six or more. They are of various sizes, shapes, and colors yet you can idetify them all as "cars." Your car continues to be "your car" even as it ages and parts are replaced. Likewise there are many different kinds of trees. Some are tall, some are short. Some have leaves and others have neddles. Trees are in a constant state of growth and change. No two trees are identical yet somehow you know they are all trees. How is this possible? This is called the Problem of the One and the Many.

One of the earliest Greek philosophers, Parmenides proposed that "existence is what exists," and thus there is nothing that does not exist. Hence, there can be neither void nor vacuum; and true reality can neither come into nor leave existence, but is limitless, eternal, uniform, and unchanging. Parmenides' view holds that change, manyness, and particularity as experienced in everyday sensation, is illusory and, arguably, that everything is changeless and one. The idea that the One is the ultimate universal principle is called "monism." All of western philosophy seems to pick up where Parmenides left off, attempting to identify the One behind the Many or the Abstract behind the Concrete assuming that the Many and the Concrete are illusions and that what is truely real is hidden.

Plato solved the problem of the One and the Many by saying that for all particular instances of a certain kind of thing there is a perfect and invisible prototype called a Form. Just as a single object can cast shadows of many different shapes, a single Form produces, gives rise to, or lies behind the illusion of the many differnt particular instances of that Form in our everyday experience. This one Form is more real than all the particular things because particular things can be destroyed while the Form endures. Supposedly this is because a Form is an idea and thus invisible and immaterial. Therefore you can identify all the unique and particular cars in your sense experience, no matter how different they happen to be, because they are really only shadow-like illusions of an invisible prototype.

Aristotle posited a substance essance distinction. . . essence was the character impressed upon the substance. . . But this essence-less substance is obviously unreal. A further implication is that a things outward appearance and charateristics were accidental or incidental to what a thing really was.

Ryan said...

Eastern philosophy, on the other hand, does not disparage the senses and thus embraces the full reality of both the many and change. In contradiction to Parmenides' "Only being is," the Dao De Jing would assert that "Only beings are." Or to take a step further back from the western paradigm, "Only becomings are." Beings seems too much like the finished ideal forms of Platonic philosophy. Becommings helps clarify that existing things are in processes through time. Thus multiplicity and temporality are foundational realities.

In the Process-ional cosmos of the Daoist sages, life is fluid, porus, and relational, which means that all realities are interdependently flowing in and out of one another in a co-creative process. Nothing is finished, everything is in process of becoming. Being and personality arise out of relationships.

The things and beings we encounter are all in processes of arising out of nothing-ness, growing, being sustained, converging with other beings, contributing life of the world, and dying. These myrid and particular changing beings are real and not an illusion. An imaginary and invisible prototype is not more real than these "becommings."

Everything, without remainder, is in process, process of becoming. Nothing is static and nothing is a finished object (being) independent of space and time and all other things. This would be a reduction and abstraction of the fullness of this experience. Time also does not exist independently as an empty temporal sucession of moments. Without processes and events of things in "becoming" there is no such thing as time. Time is the experience of process and becoming. It is the sucesional (processional) experience of a begining, middle, and end of a process.

There is also no abtract idea of time or space, like a blank slate upon which objects and events are placed but are ultimately accidental or incidental. Time is an experience of sucessional processes. The cosmos is the "Ten thousand things." Things in the sense of temporal events or processes, such as "I have a million things to do." Thus the universe is the multitude of "becommings" in process. This is the real world, right here right now. Nothing is hidden.

Ryan said...

Eastern ontology has a word similar to our idea of substance. Substance comes from the words "sub" meaning what is below, and "stance" meaning to stand. Thus substance is what stands beneath. Mere appearances are an illusion. The substance of things is their essence or ideal form or what is really there beneath the "mere appearances." Eastern ontology useses the word "such-ness" or "this-ness" to indicate the reality of things beneath our "mere conceptulizations." So it is not our senses that are tricking us it is our naming or description making that is limited and unable to fully expresses the fullness and depth of "just this." "Just this"is what is going on right now right here in all the interdependent process-ional relationships of life.

Because of this I am interested in your view that there is something more real that "just this," and your statement that this conflates the metephysical world and the physical world into the infertile un-spiritual athiest cosmology of scientitsm. But my question to you is: Are our senses fooling us or our conceptulizations?

Ryan said...

Who we are reflects the life of God. God isn't Anthomorphic, Man is Theomorphic. God does not change, but he does speak? That speaking has no begining or end. God is multiplicity and so his creation is filled with bottomless, particular, relational, co-creational, mutualy indwelt becoming, & uniqueness that is not an illusion.

Thus the solution to the One and the Many is that the universe is many. Manyness and change are real and not an illusion. We can identify things in the midst of this manyness and change because we have minds and hearts. Minds and hearts give us the divine-like ability to contemplate familial similarities and give things names. These names are conventional and provisional because they don't refer to an absolute invisible prototype and because as things change through time our names become less adequite. Naming gives meaning to the world by assigning productive values and boundaries. But the pervasive and fluid temporality of life evades all atempts at exaustive explanation. (Our hearts and minds are not outside this life. Our hearts and minds are shaped by the world and the world is shaped by hearts and minds.) What is real is "just this." The life of the world around you right here and now with all it's bottomless complexity. Nothing is hidden. Everything is a mystery. (Mystery in the sense of being bottomless and awe inspiring)

So must we shed the accretions that cause us to see the Bible through lenses that are not native to it? Particurly the Platonic grid obscures rather than clarifies our understanding of revelation. The soul for instance, is not like a hidden essence or a "who I really am deep inside." A living soul is dust plus breath. What this teaches us is that persons are relational. We are filled with the life of the Spirit of God. Who you reall are is right here and now in this life of bottomless inter-relationships giving expression to your life in every moment throught time. Not a substance and an essence but a person receiving the love of God in the form of the life of the world through everyone and everything else.

Creation is maintained by three things, 1) the Law, 2) the Temple Liturgy, & 3) Deeds of loving kindness. The cosmos is not simply ordered by an abstract principle. Through the Law God intends to bring his creation into the maturity, fullness, & freedom of the Sons of God. This movement toward future perfection is transfiguring the world. Through the Liturgy God and Man commune, restoring a relationship and primordial priestly vocation. This vocation is to unite all of creation into one great sacrifice of thanksgiving. Through deeds of loving kindness we offer to one another our whole lives, contribute to their growth toward fullfillment, and contribute to the healing of the brokeness of the covenatal fabric of the cosmos. All three have to do not with an impersonal, static, and abstract ordering logic but with the personal growth and vivification of the cosmos tied to God's intention to be with man, share with him his perichoretic life, and to thereby glorify him.

Anonymous said...

I thank God for the insights and talents of those who present such teachings as those of GB and Ryan. Perhaps the greatest gift I have received from these threads is to find that experiences and intuitions I have held suddenly find expression in words.

The universe is indeed a totality. It is many and all of that many is real and is One. The One wills it, loves it, nurtures it and is with it from inception to its ultimate. I cannot praise God enough nor love Him enough nor honor his many voices that so freely give guidance and teachings without which the world would be a bewildering maelstrom of darkness and isolation.

May God be with you each and every moment.

Ryan said...

I am happy to get productive feedback, and I have the book on hold at my library.

I may not have understood what you have said, but it seems both Platonic and Pantheistic. You say:

The universe is indeed a totality. It is many and all of that many is real and is One. The One wills it, loves it, nurtures it and is with it from inception to its ultimate.

If by saying the universe is a "totality" you mean a whole life of "just this" right here right now unlimited by the concepts we give it to create value, then yes. But I think it is overly simplistic to say that the many is "O"ne. People use this big "O" to describe their idea of God based on Platonic philosophy. The rest of your logic seems to be saying that the One creates and sustains itself as the universe. If you don't imply that the One is God then this avoids pantheism, but I don't think so because you end by thanking One. I just don't understand?

Van said...

Ryan, your comments are the types I love to dive into, but having just been notified that I'm employed again, I'm too many grog's into the celebration to make a sound enough reply. That being said, and in mind, and the fact that I most definitely do not speak for Gagdad, the 'One in the Many' are, and can only be considered from, within the Cosmos - and the Cosmos is NOT the same as the universe.

Typical mosism, dualism, etc, aren't the message here.

Personally, while appreciating Plato (more for his questions, than answers), I come down mostly on the Aristotelian side (though without the tendencies you note towards 'dualism', nominalism, etc), I find the Objectivist epistemology (sans most of the anti-theist extrapolations) to be most on the mark epistemologicaly, and place an emphasis on noting that there is a false dichotomy between Objective and Subjective - they are not separate or separable, but are different perspectives on the process of our human method of grasping reality.

I don't buy any Forms or Categories, etc, as either separate from, or as things which divide us from, existence. Concepts, Properties, Principles, etc, are our way of grasping and understanding Reality, they are not somehow intrinsically implanted apriori in our minds, and Tabula Rasa comes close, but tends to exclude a 'structured' operation for the human mind, which results in the human way of learning and nature, no matter the environment or cultural knowledge of the society.

I've probably summed it up (not implying briefly... not my strong suit) a my site:

1. Reality IS, Existence exists.
2. Identity, What exists, exists as something.
3. Consciousness, In perceiving that which exists, we become conscious of it and ourselves.

Ok, grog out.

(BTW - looking back at my first comment above... it is so dependent upon much I didn't say, as to be misleading.... at least it looks that way at the moment... ok, putting the microphone down now...)

Cory said...

I am with you Ryan. One of the joys of this and other threads is that there are people on it who express far more clearly than I what I have come to know.

Rather than "One" perhaps "unity" would be best. At least it is used more commonly, I think, to make the statement of what underlies the world. But God is God and He is distinct (not a tree or a shrew or me) but it is His being, His law and His will that creates and sustains all. He is my best friend, companion, teacher and Lord. I am coming to love Him deeply (which is an answer to many, many prayers) but know I can never give back what He has given to me.

Sometimes I really get frustrated with language.

When I first became serious about religion I was pulled to Sri Ramakrishna and I read everything I could find about the man. And in quick time I studied the Gita and Upanishads, Shankara and Vivekananda and other disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. But I could never get very far studying advaita (I have little apptitude for formal meditation). It seemed to me that Ramanuja was closer to the mark than Shankara. I have also read Chuang Tze, Lao Tze and some Buddhist material. But I never found these texts to be terribly satisfying.

Having been raised in a Christian nation I, of course, had only a crude and rather twisted notion of Christ and Christian doctrine. But Sri Ramakrishna loved Christ and preached unity in religious diversity. And slowly, after reading Dionysius and the Cloud and Eckhart, Law, Fenelon and others and having returned many times to the scriptures I have learned a little and come to love Jesus Christ and gained an understanding of His teachings, His life and His atonement. Having run across Robert and read his book I am discovering a whole community of thinkers and believers who are putting Christ in a new and brighter light than I have known. Robert's psychological insights have been very helpful in relieving a lot of confusion brought about by the odd behaviors and beliefs of some "Christians". I guess for me living in the middle of a Christian nation was the biggest barrier to becoming a Christian.

Another thing I am discovering is that I can read Robert's book and actually understand him. He seems to "speak my language" and I am most grateful for this. And I am finding others on this blog who write things that are opening up or confirming many of my experiences and intuitions (and also opening new aspects and deeper meanings to many of these).

Please forgive my poor effort to communicate. Be assured I am no pantheist or neo-Platonist. I found your post just before I replied to be a wonderful statement of truth. I wanted to let you know this.

God bless all.