Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The One in the Many in the One

We still have a few areas to cover in Temperance before moving on to everyone's favorite card, the Devil. Agree or disagree with him, he never phones it in, nor is he a quitter. He always maintains the audacity of hope (horizontalized hope, of course) and is the champion of progressive change.

Speaking of horizontalized hope, in reading this biography of Hitler, I was struck by the resilience of his hope, right up to the end. For example, despite the fact that his bunker was about to be encircled by bloodthirsty Russians, upon hearing of Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945, he exclaimed "Here!... Here we have the great miracle that I have always foretold. Who's right now? The war is not lost. Read it! Roosevelt is dead!" That is what I call audacious hope.

More devilish dilations tomorrow. Back to where we left off yesterday. Our unKnown Friend and cosmic tour guide points out that there are actually three primary modes of spiritual experience: vision, inspiration, and intuition; or perception, communication, and identification:

"Vision presents and shows us spiritual things, inspiration infuses us with understanding of them, and intuition reveals to us their essence by way of assimilation with our essence."

Or, to spit out a digestive metaphor, first one must determine what to eat; then ingest, chew, and swallow it; and finally metabolize and assimilate it, so that the two substances become one body.

Note that the first two require conscious choice, while the latter occurs without involvement of our conscious will -- nor would we have any idea how to accomplish this task if we had to. (Also, bear in mind that this sequence is preceded, of course, by hunger, which is to say, recognition of spiritual need, or ontological incompleteness and therefore dependence and openness.)

Alternatively, we could think of these modes as taking place on the planes of feeling, knowing, and being, each having its own degrees of depth and interpenetrating the others (i.e., they can only be artificially separated; think of the three modes as a dynamic trialectic, like the human family -- father intellect, mother intuition, and child feeling).

As I have mentioned before, for the typical worshipper, religion embodies a kind of (implicit or non-conscious) metaphysics without (explicitly articulated) knowledge. In other words, the metaphysics is implicate, but no less true for being so. Gravity existed before Newton's discovery of it, just as Christ exists before Jesus.

This is again why the most simpleminded creationist is nevertheless closer to the (absolute, not relative) truth than the most sophisticated atheist. Such a person "feels" the truth, even if he cannot necessarily express it in way acceptable to the atheist, who is incapable of feeling this more subtle mode of truth to begin with. It should go without saying that there are saintly people who are not intellectuals, just as there are intellectuals who are not saints.

UF notes that spiritual vision -- just like its physical analogue -- expands the horizon of one's being. All of our senses are actually different varieties of touch; for example, with vision, we are touching photons; with hearing, we are touching air vibrations; with olfaction, we are touching molecules floating in the air.

Just as our physical vision expands our subjective horizon -- even to distant heavenly bodies that are light-years away -- so too does spiritual vision give access to realities that are "up ahead" (both spatially and temporally) and yet here.

For example, when we read, say, Genesis or the Gospel of John, each helps us to discern realities that are vertically "present," but might otherwise go undetected -- just as a person without vision (unless told) would know nothing of stars and planets. Scripture literally helps us touch these realities with our awakened intellect, and can indeed be the occasion of that very awakening (since there can be no effect without a sufficient cause).

But so too do other spiritual modes involve touch -- really, anything that directly communicates divine truth, love, or beauty. Often, as UF describes, this contact will be accompanied by tears, which result from the "flow" between the two domains, the eternal and the temporal:

"The contact between image and likeness is experienced as inner weeping.... [T]he expression 'I am moved to tears' is only a reflection of what happens when image and likeness touch. They then mingle in tears -- and the inner current which results is the life of the human soul."

I'm guessing that atheists have never wept upon encountering a transformative truth, but that is not surprising, for the tears again signify depth of experience, and nothing as shallow as atheism could ever produce such an effect.

There are tears of sorrow, of joy, of gratitude, of admiration, of compassion, of reverence, of pride in one's children, of tenderness, of reconciliation, each having to do with the intensity of one's inner life, which "pours out" in the form of tears, either outwardly or "inwardly."

When is the last time you were moved in this way to inward tears? I guess for me it was a couple of months ago, when my six year old was baptized into the Catholic faith. I'm not saying I was noticeably weeping or anything -- the Godwins are men of steel -- but I definitely received the memo, enough to in-form me that I was in the presence of a real reality.

So there is spiritual vision, or touch, which involves depth of feeling and gives access to a new realm of facts. Then there is spiritual inspiration, or communication, which involves depth of knowledge and understanding. It takes the facts given by vision and converts them to explicit knowledge. This is none other then O-->(n), or "gnosis" (which all genuine theology should be).

At the same time, there is no depth without unity, and vice versa. Necessarily, as one's knowledge deepens one will begin to apprehend the interior cosmic unity, or the Logos, that makes intellectual unity possible to begin with. Contrast this with the absurd "horizontal unity" of the flatlanders, which is a metaphysical impossibility.

Now, vision has more to do with (↓), while inspiration has more to do with (↑). This is because, like our sensory vision, the former is mostly a passive modality. We just open our eyes and whoomp, there it is, a whole world.

But inspiration, as UF defines it, requires a bit more effort on our part: not just tears, but sweat. We have spoken of tears. When is the last time you sweated to deepen your vision?

I well remember the first time this happened to me. It was in the spring of 1985, when I first encountered Bion. That awakened something in me and set me off on a wild nous chase, the details of which are unimportant. The future Mrs. G and I were living in a one bedroom apartment with virtually no furniture, so I was sitting on the floor grappling with the text, literally perspiring in a kind of intellectual fever that was full of implications which took years to sort out. You could say that it was my intellectual "big bang." (By the way, I am not recommending Bion to anyone, because the point is to find the person who introduces you to yourself; I am not a "Bionian.")

Speaking of Bion, in order to have inspirations, one's mind must be unsaturated: "the answer is the disease that kills curiosity." I was apparently a good candidate, for I had essentially learned nothing (nothing essential) from kindergarten all the way through my undergraduate work. I had no answers, diseased or otherwise. It's just basic physics that if you want something to pour into you, your vessel should be relatively empty and capacious. Elsewhere UF writes that while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one.

UF has a good line: "Children know how to ask and dare to ask. Are they presumptuous? No, because each question that they pose is at the same time an avowal of their ignorance." Schuon said something to the effect that there is more light in a good question than in most answers. You will note that our trolls are always armed with peripheral questions that contain no light -- or even capacity for light -- at all. They are not the innocent expression of holy ignorance, but a guilt-stained imposition of unholy stupidity.

UF describes inspiration as a thinking together, and this is indeed what it is. Again, to use the example above, I was not simply "learning" Bion. Rather, we were "thinking together" in such a way that it sounded all sorts of latent themes within me -- and which were the primordial and consequent me.

So, your omwork for today is to "say to yourself that you know nothing, and at the same time say to yourself that you are able to know everything, and -- armed with this healthy humility and this healthy presumption of children -- immerse yourself in the pure and strengthening element of the 'thinking together' of inspiration!"

Clearing space to make room for a higher tooth:


julie said...

There's no gnosis without kenosis...

John Lien said...

...and a little ketosis.

Gignone said...

Pearls before swine?

mushroom said...

That's a great picture, by the way.

Also, bear in mind that this sequence is preceded, of course, by hunger, which is to say, recognition of spiritual need, or ontological incompleteness and therefore dependence and openness.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6, ESV)

John Starnes is a Christian singer. In fact, he used to sing for Jimmy Swaggert. I had the privilege of meeting Starnes 25 or so years ago. He's a very nice guy. He told about his conversion to Christianity. One day he was looking for God's will, and he did a little bibliomancy. He flipped open his Bible and, with his eyes closed, put his finger down on a page. It was Matthew 5:6. John said that he was disappointed since he was wanting something more substantial. It took him a while to realize just how important hunger was.

julie said...

@John - :D

And yes, that is a great picture! He's going to look super cute when the new front teeth grow in.

Bulletproof Monk said...

All I want for Christmas...!

Nice pic. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

He's pretty psyched about it. Apparently, it's the first grade equivalent of puberty.

Also, he's trying out for hockey this evening, and now he'll look the part.

julie said...

Re. the hockey, that's awesome. I hope all goes (or went) well!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Great hockey pic!

Sgt, Shultz said...

I know nothing!

Skully said...

The tooth is in the pudding.

Van said...

" This is again why the most simpleminded creationist is nevertheless closer to the (absolute, not relative) truth than the most sophisticated atheist. Such a person "feels" the truth, even if he cannot necessarily express it in way acceptable to the atheist, who is incapable of feeling this more subtle mode of truth to begin with.“

It seems as if the person, prophet & poet perceive what is true in general, and the intellectual and philosopher analyze and discover the details. But then for some, most, it's almost like wanting to claim the work for themselves... They claim to have come up with the particulars as well as the general returns all by themselves... Even to the point of denying that anything did or could have preceded their brilliance.

Too many of them are intellectual hockey players, missing their two front truths, and then some.

Nice pic FL!

Mrs. G said...

It's hard to take a bad picture of the boy...the same energy that makes him "spirited" and a "challenge" makes him look so alive in photos. I took that one in my car with my phone, too. (Samsung Epic Touch 4G (galaxy s2)).

Funny about how proud he is of the missing teeth...he now has a lisp, but isn't self conscious of that at all.

He made the team. He's now a Canuck. And I was very proud of him that he asked for #87; Sydney Crosby's number. One of a very few athletes who seems like a safe bet role-model wise.

Mushroom - love the quote.

julie said...

Congrats to T on making the team! I meant to say the other day, congrats on the baptism as well; he's making a whole different kind of team with that one :)

Re. the photo, it's amazing how decent phone cameras have become. I've been using mine more than the "real" camera of late, just because it's so convenient. For my Christmas list, I asked for an extra set of lenses for the phone.

Van said...

Julie said "I asked for an extra set of lenses for the phone."

Lol... can you imagine how much explanation that would have required just five years ago?

"he's making a whole different kind of team with that one :)"

Go Team, GO!