Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Graphic Account of God and Man

This longish post is mainly an excuse for me to combine several previous posts on the subject of Bomford's Symmetry of God, a book which I have found to be quite useful in analyzing the relationship between God and language, and describing the very different type of logic that applies to realms above and below the ego. This post allows me to delete a few old ones from the arkive, and may be of assistance to neocoons who don't know what I'm talking about when I discuss the symmetrical logic of the vertical planes.

Bomford has a useful graph that I wish I could reproduce, but I'll have to just describe. It's really rather simple. It shouldn't be taken too literally though, as it is more of a heuristic device.

Imagine two axes, horizontal and vertical, each running from 0 to 10. The vertical axis is on a continuum from total consciousness to absolute unconsciousness, while the horizontal axis goes from the cold asymmetric logic of the conscious mind to the fluid symmetric logic of the unconscious mind. All mental states will exist at some hypothetical point on the graph.

Consider point 0, 0, which would be at the lower left hand side of the graph. It corresponds with absolute consciousness and completely asymmetric logic. Therefore, it would be characterized by an absence of emotional thought (for emotion is a very sophisticated form of rapid thought) and by pure articulated rationality. Computers exist there, but are there people who live in that dry and dusty place? Not really, but there are plenty of people who pretend to, especially leftists with their "unconstrained visions" of rational understanding and control of things that are far too complex to be understood by anyone.

If there were someone who more or less lives at 0, 0 (or at least fantasizes that he does, an interesting paradox) it would be the naive atheist or Queeg-like materialist who imagines that his rigid and repetitive little ego exhausts the Real, or that the conscious mind somehow maps reality in a transparent, unambiguous way, a point of view that is too silly to even bother refuting.

Thus, what the atheist is really doing is superimposing his own cramped little 0, 0 onto every other point on the graph, which is absurd. This is who Shakespeare was talking about when he made that wise crack about there being more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt up in man's philosophy. When it comes to romancing Sophia, an 0, 0 is what you might call a confirmed old bachelor wedded to his computer screen and obsessing about VILE RACISTS and other BAD CRAZINESS. In short, if you fail to acknowledge the unconscious, it may come back and bite you in ways that are an endless source of amusement to your former readers.

Let's take the other extreme, point 10, 10, which would be in the upper right hand corner: complete symmetrical logic and complete unconsciousness. Is such a state of mind actually attainable? Yes, a-parently so. It would correspond to what in Vedanta is called "the fourth state," or Turiya. It is the pure consciousness of the Atman, which transcends the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, and is indistinguishable from Brahman.

Sri Aurobindo described turiya as "the consciousness of our pure self-existence or our absolute being with which we have no direct relations at all." It is "a trance in which one has gone completely out of the body. In more scientific parlance it is a trance in which there is no formation or movement of the consciousness and one gets lost in a state from which one can bring back no report except that one was in bliss."

Woo hoo!

I'm not sure if it can literally be experienced, or it wouldn't be remembered. Or, to put it another way, if you experienced it -- or if there was someone there to do so -- it wasn't turiya, or truly 10, 10. Instead, you might have been at, say, point 9, 10, allowing for a smidgin of asymmetrical consciousness instead of total unconsciousness. Or maybe you're just remembering the 1960s.

Back to Bomford's pneumagraph. Recall that the vertical axis runs from conscious --> unconscious, while the horizontal axis runs from asymmetrical logic --> symmetrical logic. We have already established that the 0, 0 point on the graph corresponds to the atheist, the computer, the rationalist, the Vulcan, the Queeg; while the 10, 10 point is the non-dual mystic who is plunged into the formless realm of pure being, perhaps best exemplified in modern times by a Ramana Maharshi, who seems to have been in a 10, 10 trance most of the time. Other famous 10, 10s such as Plotinus only visited there from time to timelessness, as it was occasionally necessary to take out the garbage or wash his toga.

Speaking of Plotinus, according to the Orthodox Christian Andrew Louth, Plotinus' philosophy "represents man's inherent desire to return to heaven at its purest and most ineffable." It would have to be ineffable, because there is not an effin' thing you can say about 10, 10 except that it doesn't ex-ist.

Or, if it does exist, only God doesn't know it. It is the eternal om of the apophatic God, the ainsoferable deity who thinks he's a big nobody, the ground, or Grunt, as Eckhart called it while trying to lift up his congregation.

This hints at the tantralizing idea that 10, 10 is actually the ultimate source of the rest of the graph, a point we will return to later, when we're dead.

You could also say that 0, 0 corresponds to the many, while 10, 10 is the One, or even "beyond One," which I suppose would be the Zero, the big fat Nothing that just so happens to bracket my absurcular book.

Plotinus speaks of three main principles, the One, the nous (or intellect properly so-called), and the Soul (or psyche -- what we today would call the ego). In his his use of the term, Soul would be closer to the discursive, exterior knowledge of 0, 0. It can never know the One (only of the One), but necessarily exists in a state of fragmentation and doubt.

The Intellect, on the other hand, knows directly, in the same manner which our senses know the external world directly. You might say that the nous is our sensory organ for the super-sensory realm. It's what allows most of you to understand exactly what I'm more or less talking about, give or take. Conversely, for those of you who don't comprehend my laughty bobservations, it's because somenone from your past gave you a broken nous.

For Plotinus, the One -- or what we are calling the 10, 10 -- "is absolutely simple, beyond any duality whatsoever, and of which, therefore nothing can be said. It is the One because beyond duality; it is the Good, because it has no need of anything else. It is the source of all, beyond being. Nothing can be affirmed truly of the One."

Plotinus' metaphysics reflects the perennial philosophy of cosmic involution and evolution, or emanation and return: the One becomes many so that the many might become One. Intelligence emanates from the One, just as the psyche emanates from the intellect, beyond which there is the further multiplicity of the material world:

"[T]he potent simplicity of the One 'overflows' into Intelligence, and Intelligence overflows into the Soul. Emanation is met by Return. Emanation is the One's unfolding its simplicity: Return is the Good's drawing everything to itself." The realm of intelligence points beyond itself, always to the One, which is both its ground and goal.

Although there are some critical distinctions that I won't get into here, this is not too dissimilar to the kenosis of Christianity, which refers to "the self-emptying or self-surrender of the Godhead whereby he both creates the world and becomes incarnate in the Son of Man" (Coonifesto, p. 9, f. 13). It is also in accord with Vedanta; as Radhakrishnan writes, "The act of creation... is the spontaneous overflow of God's nature.... Out of the fullness of his joy, God scatters abroad life and power.... The original unity is pregnant with the whole course of the world, which contains the past, the present, and the future in a supreme now."

Thus, the Biggest Bang of them all is the one that takes place every moment, as the heavenly papurusha plunges into the terrestrial mamamaya -- if that's not too graphic -- which in turn gives birth to this manifestivus for the rest of us, as baby makes trinity.

Or, as Petey put it in the Coonifesto, "The molten infinite pours forth a blazon torrent of incandescent finitude, as light plunges an undying fire into its own shadow (oops! a dirty world!) and


in love with the productions of time, hurtling higgledy piggledy into jivass godlings & samskara monsters (Boo!) all the way down to atoms & evolution.

We have heard from the wise, from Petey, the Mirthiful, the Unreliable, that the cosmos is created by God's whirling ec-stasy, as he is literally beside himsoph with d'light immaculate: "The dancer's inside turns into the outsideness of the dance when the dancer dances. This turning inside out is ecstasy.... This is God's relation to the cosmos. The cosmos is a kind of offspring of God. It is a kind of speech of God.... God creates the world as an act of agape-ecstasy" (Bruteau).

Yes, Free your mind and your aseity will follow.

"Intelligence is the circle with the One as its centre" (Louth). Or, you could say that the One is an infinite point that throws off sparks of divine light from the center to the periphery, which creates the sphere of reality, the dome-like firmament above and the infinite interior of human consciousness below. For Plotinus, "the higher is not the more remote; the higher is the more inward: one climbs up by climbing in, as it were." The only way out is in, and no one gets out of here alive. How to make amends meet in the muddle of the mount? How to blest off from the errport? I don't know, let's ask Plotinus:

"Let us flee then to the beloved Fatherland: this is the soundest counsel. But what is this flight? How are we to gain the open sea?

"You must call instead upon another vision which is to be waked within you, a vision, the birth-right of all, which few turn to use."

Here Plotinus describes his own flight from the alone to the Allone: "lifted out of the body into myself; becoming external to all other things and self-encentered; beholding a marvellous beauty; then, more than ever, assured of community with the loftiest order.... acquiring identity with the divine.... yet there comes the moment of descent from intellection to reasoning," back down toward consciousness and asymmetry. Back to my Saturday chores, like washing my toga and vacuuming my dusty coonskin cap and getting it ready for winter use.

I think we should recalibrate the graph, so that the lower left corner is 10, 10, the upper right O, O: that would be ʘ and O, the bi-cosmic double vision of the Cosmic RaccOOn Esoteric Dancing Troup, humble heirs to the great nothing-everything.

There's much more, but I'll have to continue this later....


julie said...

(This isn't a *discrete* quiet, btw. More of a redirecting of focus which necessarily precludes much comment. It would be like chatting through a sermon. In case you were wondering.)

Gandalin said...

Canon Bomford seems like an interesting fellow:

I couldn't find out very much more about his background, other than that he studied mathematics and theology at Oxford.

Gagdad Bob said...

I just added a link that explains the grunt, ince it may not be self-evident. Note also how Eckhart's general formulation parallels our own.

Gagdad Bob said...

Re Bomford:

Interesting fellow indeed. I don't agree with everything in the book -- in fact, I disagree with a lot of it, since he seems to have a liberal theological slant that would ultimately reduce theology to psychology, i.e., the old pre-trans fallacy of Wilber. Nevertheless, it's the only work I know of that draws out the theological implications of Matte-Blanco's bi-logic, thus saving me the trouble.

Skully said...

"This hints at the tantralizing idea that 10, 10 is actually the ultimate source of the rest of the graph, a point we will return to later, when we're dead."

Grateful Dead, to be more concise.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Conversely, for those of you who don't comprehend my laughty bobservations, it's because somenone from your past gave you a broken nous."

Aye, no one gave them enough hope to hang themselves with.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"A Graphic Account of God and Man"

One Cosmos is a graphic gnovel if I ever saw one.

Stay tooned, true believers...

julie said...

Ben - you made it two days in a row!

Bob - Speaking for myself, I hope you do continue in this line of thought at some point. It's kind of nice to have something to just contemplate that isn't full of the sound and fury of current events every once in a while.

Gagdad Bob said...

I couldn't agree more. I'll be continuing this line of thought today....

julie said...