Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's a Boy, By Jove!

If any of you were able to unravel yesterday's post -- which I shouldn't have tried to write with one ear on the Zimmerman trial -- you will see how it segues seamlessly into Davie's next chapter, called Purusha-Jesus-Christ (recall that Purusha is the "cosmic person").

We began tapping into this cosmic artery almost exactly a month ago, with a brief reflection on how Jesus might have been understood had he appeared in India instead of Palestine:

"Imagine him surrounded by his Indian disciples on an occasion corresponding to that in which Peter made his confession of faith.... What would an Indian Simon Peter have said in answer to the question, 'Who do you say that I am?'

"I ask you to suppose that the reply would have been, 'Thou art the Son of the living God.'" However, in an Indian context, this would have been understood as Purusha as opposed to Christ (i.e., messiah); instead of Christ-Jesus, the confession (and revelation) would be of Purusha-Jesus.

Of course, in Indian metaphysics, the local self IS (or is not other than) the nonlocal Self, even if few people actually real-ize this experientially. However, Davie suggests that the very possibility of this realization is predicated on the ontologically prior existence of Jesus -- of Jesus Purusha. Thus,

"the primary question is not whether the identity of Atman [read: Son] and Brahman [Father] is personally realized in anyone, but whether it is uniquely dependent on Jesus for realization anywhere. And this can only be so if Jesus is Purusha, and Atman is his very Self..."

It just occurred to me that if we really want to tie this all together, we might relate it to another excellent book, Christ the Eternal Tao. Not sure if I'll have time to do that, so perhaps my prolific colleage, Professor R. E. Viewer, can be of assistance. In one of his nine brief treatises on the subject, he writes

"'Jesus is more Eastern than Western,' said my religion teacher many years ago. That truth rested in the back of my mind for 25+ years. Recently, after three or so years of exploring writings on Orthodox Christianity, this book came under my radar. It carefully presents the idea that the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching) intuitively gained insight into a compassionate, self-giving God -- an inkling into what would later be clarified through the coming of Christ.

"The book is a very thorough presentation of the history of the development of human understanding of God and the fulfillment of this understanding which came with the incarnation of Christ. The second portion of the book is a fascinating, calming journey of poetry in which some of Lao Tzu's ideas are echoed or answered by some of the words of Christ. The similarities are striking!"

"'In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God.' That sentence, the opening of the Gospel of John translated from the Chinese version into English, says it all. Hieromonk Damascene does here what the Church Fathers of the first through fourth centuries did with their ancient Greek heritage: he takes up the ancient spiritual wisdom of the Chinese and uses the insights of long ago to illuminate the New Covenant of the coming of Christ -- the Tao, the Logos -- in the flesh."

The point is, there was (obviously) a historical context for Jesus's appearance, and we have to -- to the extent that it is possible -- separate the merely historical from the truly essential expressed through history. There are times that God makes a vertical ingression and bursts into history, other times when history is just history.

The official Catholic view is that Jesus's appearance in a Greco-Roman context was no accident, but based upon the ideas we're discussing, we could widen this out and place him in a truly world historical context. Looked at in this way, we could stipulate that there exist other revelations, but that Jesus furnishes the missing key that unlocks them.

After all, this is precisely how Jesus is understood in relation to the Hebrew scriptures. For the Christian, these do not stand alone, but are the backward shadow cast by the Omega. Although they existed in some form or fashion long prior to the terrestrial appearance of Jesus, he is nevertheless their explanation, that toward which -- or whom -- they are converging. Only in behindsight could it be seen that Jesus is all over the OT.

(No disrespect to Judaism intended here -- just explicating Christian doctrine; in fact, Voegelin was of the opinion that Christianity actually has two Old Testaments, the Jewish and the Greek.)

Regarding the Greco-Roman OT, consider old Vergil's famous prophecy:

Now a virgin returns, the golden age returns; / now its firstborn is sent to us, down from the height of heaven. / Look kindly, goddess of childbirth, on the birth of this boy; / for him shall the people of iron fail, and a people of gold arise in the world.... / Come soon (for the hour is at hand) to the greatness of your glory, / dear offspring of the gods, great child of Jove himself!

As Balthasar writes, "In Vergil, the subterranean stream flowing from myth into revelation becomes visible for a brief instant" (quoted in Beckett).

Back to Davie: "Thus where Self = Atman and Person = Purusha, the gospel according to Hinduism declares that Jesus is God's Self-in-Person." Furthermore, "if the identity of of Atman and Brahman is actualized historically in Jesus, then the interiority of the godhead is made visible in him."

This would explain how "the self-consciousness of Jesus was such that there is nothing incredible about the statements attributed to him on the subject of his pre-existence," i.e., that before Abraham was, I AM, because before Atman was Purusha IS.

But it probably has nothing to do with the phonetic similarities between Jove and Jehovah, Abraham and Brahman, AUMMMMM & I AMMMMM, or Coon and koan.


julie said...

But it probably has nothing to do with the phonetic similarities between Jove and Jehovah, Abraham and Brahman, Christ and Krishna, or Coon and koan.

Funny, I was just thinking the same thing...

Magister said...

the local self IS the nonlocal Self

I wonder, how is the realization of this equation more than notional? I mean, sure, we get how we're the universe and the universe is us (cue Elton John singing in his tight, reedy voice "The Circle of Life"), and if we just watch the universe pass through our consciousness without "attachment," we'll realize it's true, things come in and out in the Tao and "we" are that. Get that straight in your head, and you experience at-aone-ment at its source.

I've never had the experience myself -- at least, not beyond a kind of limited notional assent. Hobbies!

Magister said...

by Willem de Cooning, of course

Gagdad Bob said...

As to the difference between knowledge and realization, I suppose it all depends upon where we are situated on the radius between • and O, center and circumference.

Kurt said...

Yesterday's post was not unclear, Bob, it was TOO clear. Sometimes people can talk/write and say absolutely nothing (often subtracting from our understanding/knowledge). And sometimes a person can talk/write and say absolutely everything (greatly expanding understanding or at least presenting the possibility of expansion). That was the case yesterday, and today, too. Sometimes reading Schuon I had to take it line-by-line, identifying the meaning of each word and trying to line these meanings up into a more coherent whole (kind of like musical notes grouping into chords...). But mostly when I read something 'too big to eat' I just need to let it sit for a bit. The truth will out, as they say. Thanks, as always, for inviting us along for the ride!

Gagdad Bob said...

There's always a seat on the bus.

ge said...

[a seat on the bus]
--Maria Bamford works this joke into her show, saying she heard it from a Mexican teen who moved in next door and who wondered whether it would translate:
A guy is sitting on a crowded bus and a woman straphanger is standing over him---she does not shave her underarms and he keeps looking at this new-to-him sight; eventually she is bothered by his attention and asks him 'que pasa hombre?'
He says, 'Sorry I was just wondering how you can get your leg so high up in the air??'

John Lien said...

Reminds me of watching Joseph Campbell on PBS a couple of decades ago talking about the myth of the planting of the seed, its dying and rising three days later. The effect on me then was a faith killer. You see, the resurrection is just another version of the planting myth. And that may have been intentional.

I was stuck in the horizontal back then. Now, with just a wee bit of altitude, I'm seeing the reality as it resonates throughout history.

That Virgil prophecy, veeeeery interesting.

Gagdad Bob said...

Voegelin called Christianity a "true myth."

ge said...

similar glimmer:
Truth & Life of Myth: An Essay in Essential Autobiography
by another Bob [Duncan]

mushroom said...

There is a planting myth because there is a Resurrection.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers, and He said, "Get ready! The Real Thing is coming!"

Rick said...

"there was (obviously) a historical context for Jesus's appearance, and we have to -- to the extent that it is possible -- separate the merely historical from the truly essential"

And the only way to join them is through myth.

Rick said...

There is a real man in this cosmic myth.
Or is it cosmic man in this real myth?

Olden Ears said...

“If any of you were able to unravel yesterday's post…”

Actually, I found yesterday’s post a little more accessible than many. I came to your book and blog via Brian Greene’s writings about quantum physics. Since then, Schuon and others have intrigued and perplexed me.

I like what Kurt said: “…mostly when I read something 'too big to eat' I just need to let it sit for a bit.” That works for me, too.

Often I feel like what somebody once said about dogs – they live their lives always just on the verge of understanding.

Gagdad Bob said...

I like that -- the dog analogy is actually quite exact, if Voegelin is correct that man lives -- and must live -- in permanent tension with the divine ground. We can always sniff it, even if we can't actually catch it, at least on this side of the divide. Voegelin defines "gnosticism" as the attempt to do so -- or the pretense of having done so -- and its modern form is leftism, scientism, Darwinism, etc., or ideology in all its varieties.

And no post today. But if you ever get in trouble in Florida, I strongly recommend the services of Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara.

River Cocytus said...

Oh, yeah. What a farce of a trial and to endure it? I would have gotten violent, the barbarian that I am.

ge said...

Napolitano out as Homeland honchette! hooray~~
Mr Prez may we suggest: Zimmerman in, a great replacement!

mushroom said...

Zimmerman apparently voted for Obama in 2008, anyway. I wonder how he feels about that right now?

River Cocytus said...

If Zimmerman gets convicted, he'll be a shoo-in for the position

ge said...

Lord forgive us!
Sum Ting Wong, Wei Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow.

julie said...


Did you see the screen grab? That almost makes me sort of want to watch network news.

Stu said...

Hey Bob.

It's been years since I've commented on your blog, but I do still check in from time to time - particularly when I need a new book recommendation. I can't believe you are still going strong after, what, 7 years? Your writing is an enjoyable as ever, and I am eagerly waiting on Coonfesto volume II...

Anyways, just thought I'd share that my wife recently gave birth to our first child! In addition to the sheer joy of taking care of the cutest little baby girl ever, fatherhood really sheds clarity on the whole fatherhood aspect of God. The interplay of omnipotence and freedom, container and contained, the relational, intersubjective nature of divinity, the human family as a symbol of the divine family...

I mean, when you wrote about these things, I understood them, but actually living them out is a whole new experience. I imagine you may have had a similar experience when Tristan was born.

Hope all is well and take care.


Gagdad Bob said...

Congratulations, Stu!

Yes, the symbolism of Real Life exceeds all my suspicions and premonitions, valid as they were.

As for Volume II, you're probably looking at it. Writing a book isn't nearly as rewarding as blogging. Although anyone has my permission to go through the arkive and assemble the One Cosmos Raider.

Gagdad Bob said...

Alternate titles:

Gnocturnal Omissions: The Secret Life of a Raccoon
My Dinners with Gagdad
Bleatings with Repetitive Men
Slackrificial Writuals & Vertical Memoranda
If You're Not Eccentric, You're Wrong

Gagdad Bob said...

Purana Coon Chow: All You Add is Love
Bangography of a Small Cosmos
Coonical Pslackology
Adam & Evolution
The Digital Body of Toots & The Coonquest of Spacetime

ge said...

Funny! Rush's very 1st quip today is reporting his weird dream of last night: Napolotano out---Zimmerman in as Homeland head!