Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inspeyred by O and Conceived in God

I'm thinking that perhaps Adrienne von Speyr was born a little too early for our own good. She obviously would have been a great blogger, in that she had mastered the problem of coming up with fresh material every day.

In attempting to impose some order on her vast and unruly body of work, Balthasar says that if viewed from the outside in, it "resembles a forest primeval"; but if regarded from the center out, one can sense a deeper nonlocal order from which her writings flowed. The trick is in locating the center.

This itself is an interesting point. As we have discussed in the past, science proceeds from the outside in, from facts to principles, whereas religious metaphysics proceeds from the inside out, from principles to facts. In my book, I use the symbols (k) --> O to schematize the former, O --> (n) for the latter. Or, to put it in plain coonglish, von Speyr was drinking straight from the firehOse of transpersonal experience.

There is no way to engage in O --> (n) without in some way "abandoning oneself" to the process, so to speak. After all, we are specifically using the mind to transcend the mind, and to obtain a kind of knowledge that surpasses us. We have to somehow align ourselves with this other subtle flow of energy, information, and refined sentiment.

It's almost as if it requires two different brains to pull this off, and in this regard it is something of a miracle that von Speyr and Balthasar found each other. After all, she is probably the one person in the world who "knew" more than he did (without having learned it), and he is the one person in the world whose erudition was so freakishly capacious that he was able to cut through her forest primeval and apprehend an order that even she couldn't have seen. She was the perfect explorer, while he was the perfect cartographer. He was the doer, she the higher non-doodler.

Balthasar writes of how there is a "constant center" (O) in von Speyr's work, which "fans out into various individual fields of application." But it's no joke: she truly engaged in a radical form higher non-doodling in order to engage in her lifelong bewilderness adventure.

That is, Balthasar notes that "the experiences granted to her were of a completely charismatic nature" and "cannot be logically inferred and deduced by any means." Rather, "they were simply given in this and no other way." She herself constructed no formal system, and in fact, was repelled by the idea of a "conceptual limit" being drawn around God. This makes sense, because in the final unalysis, no one can contain O. Theology can indicate, but pointin' a finger at your gnosis ain't the same as pickin' it.

Hmm. It just occurred to me that the relationship between HvB and AvS was in some ways analogous to that between the psychoanalysts Melanie Klein and W.R. Bion, the latter of whom came up with an abstract system to map Klein's forest primeval of rather wild descriptions of the primitive unconscious.

In order to "think" about anything, we must abstract from experience. The danger here, however, is that we can then confuse our abstractions with reality. Thus, we must always have one foot in the reality of experience, the other foot in our abstractions, which creates a kind of generative cyclical flow between the two. Experience fills out the abstractions, but then the abstractions can be used as "probes" to further explore experience.

Whatever your opinion about "religion," everyone -- theist and atheist alike -- must agree that human beings have what are known as "religious experiences." But what to make of them? The atheist magically makes them go away by affirming that these are ultimately experiences of "nothing," if such an absurdity is possible on such a widespread and universal scale.

The average person is either born into a religion or joins one, and this will both foster and lend order to what we call "religious experience." But religion cannot be the ultimate source of religious experience, any more than science can be the source of scientific experience.

We have a name for the latter fallacy: scientism. Perhaps we should call the former religionism. Ironically, these two approaches have much more in common with each other than either has with true science or religion, both of which converge upon the mystical, since they are two sides of the same O. In this regard, I think all Coons would agree that, say, Charles the Queeg Johnson, has the identical "form" as any fundamentalist preacher. Only the content is different.

HvB knew full well that the Church would be ambivalent about someone such as AvS, and one can appreciate why. After all, they can't just allow anyone's visions to be incorporated into the magisterium. But at the same time, you can't just ignore the fact that some people are closer to the firehose than others.

Are there characteristics we can look for that can help us distinguish the real coonman from conmen such as Deepak and his ill(k)? Yes, no question. There are certain "tests" that may still allow some false positives to slip through, but can eliminate some of the negatives, like certain medical tests.

So HvB appropriately begins with a discussion of AvS's overall character and approach. He says that she operated out of that same radical consent, the enthusiastic Yes! to God that crowns Mary's earthly perfection. Nothing could have happened in the theo-drama in the absence of that first unqualified Yes! that serves as a kind of mirror image of Eve's No way!

There is a true reversal here, for just as Eve came out of Adam, the messiah shall come out of the new Eve, who is the "church" in its most elemental form. The church -- the "body of Christ," both collectively and individually -- is perpetually saying yes, I am willing to give birth to God, regardless of the consequences.

HvB writes of Mary that "She is infinitely at the disposal of the Infinite. She is absolutely ready for everything, for a great deal more, therefore, than she can know, imagine or begin to suspect. Coming from God, this yes is the highest grace; but, coming from man, it is also the highest achievement made possible by grace: unconditional, definitive self-surrender."

This Yes!-- or perhaps "I do" -- is "the original vow, out of which arises every form of definitive Christian commitment to God and in God." Thus, to say Yes to God is to enter God -- and for God to enter oneself, in a mutual indwelling or spontaneous O-bedience born of love.

... and yes I said yes I will Yes. --Molly Bloom, Ulysses

A Divine child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes. --Petey, The Coonifesto

You could say that Christ is the sun, Mary the moon. As such, she is not the source of light, but of reflected light. She is the archetype of "pure transparency. Pure flight from self. Pure emptied space for the Incarnation of the Word..." She is spiritual poverty itself, as her empty womb is the very space where the conception God + man takes place. Thus we can perhaps again comprehend one of Petey's cryptograms:

... blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight, worshiping in oneder in a weecosmic womb with a pew....

In this voidginal state, we do not form our conception of God. Rather, he forms his conception of us within the sacred womb of our own being. Thus, we are both mother and child, and "the consenting person can be formed by God into the infinite: every possible figure that will be imprinted by God lies in the openness of perfect readiness."

According to HvB, Adrienne was in just such a state of "perfect readiness" that she entirely effaced herself when "dicating": "She could not remember the contents of her books and it would never have occurred to her to open one of them." By no means do I wish to compare myself to her, but I think I have some idea of what she's talking about, because I don't remember what I write either, the reason being that there is nothing inside "me" to remember in the usual way.

In fact, if I understand mysoph correctly, the blogging is a form of remembering, albeit vertical recollection. There's nothing there to remember horiziontally, because that's not where it came from. In this regard, I am reminded of something Captain Beefheart once said. I can't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect that I'd like to give my music away, because where I got it, it didn't cost me a thing.

You cannot fool God. You might as well try to be transparent on your end, because he certainly sees through you anyway on his end. You might be able to kid yourself about all the parts of yourself that are not surrendered to God, but you can't kid the kether, so don't even try, mister big shot.

He and She, innocently at play in the fields of the Lord:


julie said...

The Book of All Saints is now also on its way to my door; it seemed apropos to get that one next, after asking about the lives of saints last week.

It's interesting how this textual exploration is playing out - as though we're following HvB's already rich excavation, when suddenly a side passage opens into something even more fantastic and somehow, wholly unexpected.



Van said...

"Balthasar says that if viewed from the outside in, it "resembles a forest primeval"; but if regarded from the center out, one can sense a deeper nonlocal order from which her writings flowed. The trick is in locating the center."

I'd bet Ptolemy would give an Amen! to that.

"There is a true reversal here, for just as Eve came out of Adam, the messiah shall come out of the new Eve, who is the "church" in its most elemental form."

Interesting connection... opens up a whole new room off the main hall I hadn't noticed even before... or is that room the main hall that this is a room off of... now where'd I leave that center at....

(Excellent picture! Did you snap that with a 'Canon Archetype instant-o-matic'? Got the poetic reverb cranked up to 11 on that image)

Ricky Raccoon said...

Glad you’re reading the HvBs book on AvS. I was this close to buying one of them when I discovered that HvB blog with all his books listed. Now where’d I put that link… Anyway. Please read slower. My copy of First Glance is supposed to arrive today :-)

BTW, if you love the Divine Comedy (giggle) you’ll enjoy Scipio yesterday.

julie said...

Ricky, if you find that link, share it, pretty please?

In the meantime, it's back to Google books to get enthralled, only to be brought to a frustrating halt when the free preview ends...

Ricky Raccoon said...

Hi julie
Thanks for reminding me :-)
HvB blog

julie said...

Thanks, Ricky - that looks like a great resource. Though I can't help noticing a near-complete absence of any reference to AvS there. And yet, just scrolling down and looking at the titles, her influence shines through his work. But I never would have noticed or had an inkling, until this week.


julie said...

Just now I'm reading Handmaid of the Lord; and yet again, in just the first couple of pages I find answers to questions I have been wondering about, off and on.


Ricky Raccoon said...

Sorry about that Julie. I know I saw mention of her that night I found the blog. It may have been HvB’s wikipage.

Anonymous said...

A bloomin' yeaaah on this riff Bob.

I clicked much earlier on "kether" link and didn't even click till now that I had -- in 1990 Kether moment -- something I'm pretty sure I posted about here. The reason I bring it up again, is because of what you said about the Boss not being blind to the content of our hearts and minds.
I know I was, and still am a 'nice' person and will never apologize for it.

Anyway, I do cringe at the thought of writing about it fearing it may piss some people off. BUT, since it is not at all about mememememe -- the lil' self me -- I will 'boast' on behalf of the LORD. Besides, Jesus did say not to keep the Light under the bushell basket.

Twice besides, not like I had any idea what that was about because I never heard of such a thing. Not till much later . . .That said I will continue with how the 'Kether' moment played out.

I was on fire angry, shouting at my husband stuff . . "TRUTH! "What is real truth? What is real beauty!!...". He, the most patient man in the world I'm sure was always my sounding board.

But he just bloody wanted me to be happy! He did everything to please me. Everything. Always joined at the hip as the saying goes. I had no reason to be mad at him. None whatsoever.

Yet there we were. He, trying to shut me up and me cranking the volume higher and higher. . . After sev. min. of this he suddenly became silent, walked away across the room and sat on the furthest end of the couch shooting quick glances in my direction with a shooing-away hand gestures saying "don't do that I can't see you."

When the dust setlled he told me "your head lit up like the sun and I couldn't see you."

It did scared him. Me? Not so much but was very curious what that was all about, but country living meant we had a big garden to tend too, make preserves etc. Raising sev. kids meant more work etc. with not so much time left over for reading. Little did I know that the answer was a'coming but not on my own agenda watch and not from the book.

Years later it occured to me to ask "how long was my head lit up for?" Irritated he said "why are you always asking me about it? I don't know tree or four minutes."

True, from time I would ask him to tell me exactly what he saw that day, but wouldn't anyone wonder same?
He just wanted me to be normal and happy.


AVS and Tolle said...

Adrienne von Speyr, in The Boundless God, responds to Eckharte Tolle's "The Power of Now"

"It is, however, impossible to find a self-contained meaning for human life with transience. Nonbelievers basically ask for eternal, divine values without knowing their name. A genuine nonbeliever could therefore only be someone who goes about his business completely in the here and now, someone who finds himself and his surrounds so satisfying ans so fit for every kind of perfection that he would obviously lack any sense of the future of life and its transience. He wants and can set no expectations because today is completely sufficient for him. The thinking person, however, goes through time laden with questions; he feels, and should feel, each insight granted to him to be nothing more than a fragment, since time and again it can be continued, supplemented and interpretted in different ways. This person knows that his reason will never be enough to construct a totally satisfying worldview... But when the Son that he is the truth and that he brings the Word, which he himself is, from eternity, the believer also grasps in light of this Word why all his thoughts love and desire to give of himself necessarilty stumble into boundaries here below that will be definitively removed only in heaven; he is on his way to God, and his transience is ultimately a sign of this movement."

julie said...

One more reason to like her; clearly, she had a highly-developed sense of smell.

julie said...

Ring-a-ding Ding?
Yes, indeed.

wv says not to pay retail, though.


NoMo said...

..."the enthusiastic Yes! to God that crowns Mary's earthly perfection."

I know, the protestant in me is showing by perhaps reading too much into it. Although undoubtedly blessed among women (Luke 1:42), Mary the mother of Jesus was not perfect and admitted to needing salvation (Luke 1:47). There is, after all, only one Mediator between God and man (I Tim 2:5).

While truly singular and deserving of high respect, I believe Mary would have been the last to ever imagine being "worshipped" or put up on such a pedestal as she has been by so many. I personally don't get it. A saint, however? Without question. Perhaps the first.

Great post today, Bob. Thanks, as always.

"ovalizer"...dang wv always keeping me out of round.

Magnus Itland said...

Balthasar and Speyr are, to say the very least, lots of floors above me in the tower of song. I guess that explain why they aren't exactly famous despite hanging out with the current Pope and being smarter than the Fortune 500.

In some small way I can relate to the practice of speaking to the air, however. My name for it, which I shamelessly appropriated from a song by Chris de Burgh, is: "We must say all the words that should be spoken, before they are lost forever."

The few things I've said that actually were worth saying rarely had anything to do with me at all. They just needed saying, and I did not even know who needed them, if anyone. I guess it's the same way with art: It just needs to be done, because the beauty has to be brought into the world. Once that is done, the world is changed forever.

I can't imagine the purity needed to write stacks of books of the stuff though. I mean, I can understand how she did that, by just discarding her own personal priorities and letting God have all her time. I just can't imagine someone actually doing that so completely without reservation. As if they had nothing better to do than to listen to the Supreme Being all day.

One of my Christian mystic teachers decades ago said: "If people had a visible halo that grew brighter the more time they spent alone with God, people would spend a lot more time alone with God." But they haven't, and the few people who can see their halo can't even explain it to anyone else.

Scipio said...

Dear Gagdad Bob:

“You cannot fool God. You might as well try to be transparent on your end, because he certainly sees through you anyway on his end.”

I tried to fool Him for 30 odd years. It did not end up well. At last, like Aeschylus, I understand. Pity I could not have arrived at this point sooner, but I thank God I arrived at all.

phil g said...

Yes NoMo your protestantism is definitely showing. Mary did not consider herself perfect because she's humble, perhaps a sign of her perfection. You show a typical misunderstanding of Mary's position and our (Catholic and others who understand the unique role of Mary) response to that. We venerate and honor Mary we do not 'worship' her in the strict use of the word. Sure there are some who probably do worship her and create a kind of cult of her, but that is not Orthodox.

If Protestants could get past one thing, it is their relationship and understanding of Mary that was formed as part of their reaction formation to the Catholic and Orthodox. I know, I was raised in a fundamentalist protestant religion. A religion that was more interested in the religion then the object that the religion was pointing to.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Reading this book on Speyr I can already say neither HvB nor AvS is worshiping Mary as “the greater”. Venerate may be the best word. Then there is no danger in too much veneration, which I think is not possible with one’s proper view of Mary; since she represents all vessels of creation – us, who, no less than she, are capable of standing before God in “perfect nakedness” (as AvS puts is).

Ricky Raccoon said...

In this book HvB says the 60 volumes could have been easily, I think he said, 3 times that. That the dictation was sort of a hindrance to AvS and that he was I gathered sorry to be holding her back. Also, the volumes approached he thought a limit on what could be read.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Also, Magnus, this diction from the beyond was not all she did all day. She was a Physician with a busy practice not to mention caring for her family and everyone else’s she came in contact with. She was fully “in the world” in addition to. And not an easy life was hers it seems ever. Yet she did all of it joyously.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob, this is a great book. I am about 70 pages in. I want to say that Mary may be more a mirror image of Jesus. She is us; the degree to which we are capable of assuming the example presented by Jesus. We can not “be Jesus”, but we can in a sense “be as Mary”. Give up our “Yes.”

Incidentally, I watched Nacho Libre for the dozenth time last night. Just the ending – which is a great ending. I never noticed how the last few words of the script are people saying yes to each other. Who asks it and who affirms it in the movie are as much as important, and not very unrelated to the characters “conversing” who we’ve been talking about here.

NoMo said...

Phil G - Thanks for the thoughtful and clearly deepfelt comments. I don't argue about many things, but rather search the scriptures for what they say on the subject.

I think it is undeniable that Mary holds an exalted position in Catholic theology (as taught by numerous formal declarations). The view seems to be that because of her exalted position in heaven, she is able to approach the Son with requests and petitions from her followers. To that I can only ask, why? Further, she is prayed to, adored, and sought by millions of devotees (I assume even beyond Catholics). That, I believe, is not scriptural, and may lead to spiritual misdirection.

When the great inspired doctrines of orthodoxy were set forth by Paul, etc. through all the writings collected in the NT, there seems to have been no example or guidance whatsoever toward any relationship of a believer with Mary, mother of Jesus, but only with Him. That's all I'm saying.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Wasn’t Mary asked if she would say yes? …to which she replied “yes”. Perhaps not in those exact words. That is the impression I got.
Likewise Nomo, I’m agreeing with you about the danger of spiritual misdirection. I was just saying no one in this book is denying the danger. As far as I can tell so far, AvS says that in her prayer she says she has “Father visions” which I think (so far) implies the “conversation” is with the Father.

Ricky Raccoon said...

This occurred to me earlier, the title of the book is “First Glance at AvS”. It’s not about HvB’s first glance, but what ours might be.

Magnus Itland said...

See, this touches on the coclusion by St John that the world would not have room for all the books that would have to be written if he went into details about Jesus.

It also touches on Jesus' repeated statement that the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto living, growing things. So when it starts growing in a saint (and ot just the official, famous saints for that matter) they too take on this higher-dimensional property. They become unlimited by the measures of the ordinary world. There is no limit to what could be said, only to what must be said.

julie said...

Magnus - indeed.

Bob - it suddenly looks like Amazon exploded all over your sidebar; I think my eyes are burning. I'm sure it's something they stupidly did, but yikes.

julie said...

Hm. Whatever Amazon did, looks like they fixed it. Thank goodness.

phil g said...

There are three streams that guide the Catholic:
1. Scripture as taught by our history of great theologians with our own personal study
2. Official teachings and guidance from the official office of the Pope as guided by the Holy Spirit
3. Traditions of the Church

Veneration of Mary comes mainly from 2 and 3 derived from reasoning and hints from the Bible without the Bible having to spell it is a logical conclusion from following where the Word leads.

While Protestants emphasize number 1 (but outside the teaching of the Church) they have almost completely cut themselves off of number 2 and especially 3.

As Magnus so elegantly stated, there is much to be learned and experienced outside of and in addition to the Bible.

And please drop the conceit that Protestants only strictly adhere to the teachings of the Bible and nothing else. If that were so there would only need to be one Protestant church instead of dozens with sometimes contradictory and conflicting understanding of the Bible.


NoMo said...

Phil - Well said. That is food for thought. In the end, I believe the real issue may be authority.