Thursday, May 07, 2015

On Making Oneself Capable of God

I am pleased to report that the book we've been discussing, All the World an Icon, cools off considerably at the halfway mark, and even goes astray into error and trivia. I don't have much use for Jung, who commits the fundamental blunder of psychologizing the religious. He's not as bad as Freud, who frankly pathologizes it, but he's still an unhelpful mishmash of tedious pedantry and profound error.

Schuon has some juicy things to say about this mischievous usurper in his Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism. He doesn't call him out personally, but he writes that

"What we term 'psychological imposture' is the tendency to reduce everything to psychological factors and to call into question not only what is intellectual or spiritual -- the first being related to truth and the second to life in and by truth -- but also the human spirit as such and therewith its capacity of adequation and, still more evidently, its inward illimitation and transcendence."

In other words, to reduce spiritual and metaphysical Truth to psychological "truth" is only to undermine the very possibility of truth. The cosmic adventure is then reduced to a kind of pseudo-spiritual parlor game, only, like scientology, it will cost you a lot of money. Psychotherapy isn't cheap, let alone effective.

I remember back in the day -- back in grad school, to be more specific -- we had to complete 100 or so hours of personal psychotherapy. Being liberal in all things, including psychology, I chose a Jungian analyst, because Jung was clearly the most "out there" of the various respectable schools of psychology. Suffice it to say that the whole enterprise was simply outside my idiom. Meh. Like kissing your sister at a soccer game.

Schuon gets right to the point: "Psychoanalysis is at once an endpoint and a cause, as is always the case with profane ideologies, like materialism and evolutionism, of which it is really a logical and fatal ramification and a natural ally."

In other words, it is an absurd tautology, such that if it "works," it just encloses you in a new -ism or -ology, when the whole point is escape into the uncontainable, the wild godhead.

Nevertheless, the imposture "arrogates to itself functions that in reality are spiritual, and thus poses practically as a religion."

Boy and how. I got up to the threshold of formal post-doctoral training in the psychoanalytic seminary before pulling out and reorienting my focus. I don't know how to explain that rupture except in terms of a combination of grace and idiom. It would have been about 1991 that I decided to discontinue my grim climb up the ladder of the Conspiracy. It was 1995 that I made the conscious commitment to devote the rest of my life to finding God, at which point psychology became just a sideline to pay the bills.

Of course, psychology still has a critical role to play in the overall scheme of things, but as we've been saying in the last couple of posts, one doesn't make a home in it; rather, one finds a home for it in the Self. In particular, I still think that attachment theory and interpersonal neurobiology have critical roles to play in the arc of the human adventure. But they are bridges, not destinations.

To make psychology a destination is to suggest that there exists some sort of harmonious equilibrium for man on the horizontal plane, which is nonsense of the first rank, "as if there were no equilibriums made of insensibility or of perversion" (Schuon).

Rather, "Our human state itself is a disequilibrium, since we are existentially suspended between earthly contingencies and the inborn summons of the Absolute.... We are not amorphous substances, we are movements which are in principle ascensional; our happiness must be proprotioned to our total nature, on pain of lowering us to animality, for a happiness without God is precisely what man cannot withstand without becoming lost."

This is just another way of saying that we are situated between the two vertical attractors, O and Ø, and it is within this space that all the cosmic action takes place.

Something I Wish I Knew before I entered psychotherapy: "It is useless to seek to heal the soul without healing the spirit; what matters in the first place is to clear the intelligence of the errors perverting it, and thus create a foundation in view of the soul's return to equilibrium; not to just an equilibrium, but to the equilibrium whose principle the soul bears within itself."

This is why I would now say that -- for example -- a person who is proclaimed "psychologically healthy" but is a liberal is not healthy at all. Rather, liberalism itself is evidence of a soul-sickness. This no doubt sounds polemical to some, but to the extent that liberalism (and there are many other reasons) 1) denies the soul, 2) relativizes truth, and 3) exteriorizes personal responsibility, this by definition falls short of human health and its cognate, wholeness, for

"the great remedy for all our inward miseries is objectivity towards ourselves; and the source or starting point of this objectivity is situated above ourselves in God. That which is in God is for that reason mirrored in our own transpersonal center which is the pure Intellect; that is, the Truth that saves us is part of our most intimate and most real substance. Error, or impiety, is the refusal to be what one is."

This post has really deviated from its initial impulse. I just wanted to say that it is a relief that All the World an Icon goes south about midway through, because at least now it has a manageable horizon.

Back to our page-by-page cogitations. Consider this: Imagination in the higher sense is "an organ of perception," in the absence of which "the phenomena of religious experience are impossible." Corbin cites the example of the "burning bush," which, from the perspective of our terrestrial eyes, is just a brushfire. (Bear in mind what we said a few posts back about the miracle requiring a "human opening.")

This very much goes to a Big Problem with "fundamentalism," or better, literalism, since it really ends up being an imitation of the cognitive style of flatland scientism, for each equates appearances with reality. This is why it is so easy for the tenured to ridicule the conventionally religious, and for us to ridicule the conventionally tenured.

Here it is critical to distinguish between the imaginary and the imaginal, for the latter involves the crystallization or precipitate of a genuine encounter with a real but immaterial object (or subject-object). You could say that it is like a nonlocal eddy that forms amidst the mutual streaming of (↑) and (↓); this will become more clear as we proceed.

Another key point is that the Imagination is not just passive but creative. As Cheetham expresses it, "The exploration of the subtle realm requires participation between the human and the divine and is at once discovery and creation." Basic orthoparadox there.

This is a "third mode of knowing," involving the "double structure" alluded to above. You could call it the Double Helix of the vertical world. For you Scrabble players out there, Corbin calls it syzygy.

The main point is that there is an active gro-upperation between God and the soul -- or between O and (¶), to keep things unsaturated.

But to reemphasize, this is subjectivity without subjectivism (or psychologizing). Yes, "the mode of perception depends on the mode of being of the perceiver" (Cheetham), but this doesn't mean the perceived object isn't real.

Just as the baseball player makes himself capable of seeing the ball closer to its "source" in the pitcher's hand, "Our great task is 'to make ourselves capable of God,'" which goes back to what Schuon says above about our capacity for adequation. Not all are equally adequate to God, but all are more or less capable of being so, otherwise there would be no such things as spiritual growth or moral retards and reprobates.


mushroom said...

Meh. Like kissing your sister at a soccer game.

ANNOTATION: For you 23rd Century monks of the Raccoon Order who are studying the writings of Our Founder, allow me to explain: Soccer (aka, football, futbol, Isthisallthatson, etc.) games often ended in ties because, frankly, no one cared. In games that mattered, there were still occasions when the game ended in a tie. (You probably aren't ready for an explanation of "Sudden Death" or "Extra Innings".) Since it wasn't a win, spectators and participants would compare the tie to an act that, while not necessarily unpleasant in and of itself, would lead to no further positive consequences. Because we still frowned upon intimate relations between sibling (outside of Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia, and Islam), kissing one's sister was not considered a romantic interaction by most normal people.

I'm sure things have changed.

mushroom said...

the great remedy for all our inward miseries is objectivity towards ourselves; and the source or starting point of this objectivity is situated above ourselves in God

A great encapsulation of a great and far too neglected truth.

Magister said...

Yes, capable of God.

I've had deaths in my extended family these past few months and am watching my mother and father confront their approaching mortality.

Lately, I would just like for God to remember them, on that last day. I don't want them to be over forever.

julie said...

Mushroom, lol.

Magister, I am sorry to hear what you and your family are going through; you will be in my prayers. For what it's worth, I have sometimes had the thought that nothing that God remembers is ever lost.

Kurt said...

Julie and Magister, I think that remembrance is the key fact to consider in times of mourning and loss. Recently I was remembering my mother, who passed last year, and it struck me that God remembers her, too. In fact I would venture to say that He never forgets us, that we are always in His heart. It brings to mind the words of St. Paul, about how nothing can separate us from the Love of God, neither death nor life, angels nor demons, the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from His Love in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:28). It is a great comfort to me to know that my mother is still and always loved by God, even now that she has left this earth, and to know that I will see her again someday, face-to-face in Our Gracious Father's House. In Christ we can face death with sorrow, yes, but with hope most of all...

mushroom said...

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

He who sees every sparrow that falls will call each of us by name, and we will live.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Here it is critical to distinguish between the imaginary and the imaginal, for the latter involves the crystallization or precipitate of a genuine encounter with a real but immaterial object (or subject-object). You could say that it is like a nonlocal eddy that forms amidst the mutual streaming of (↑) and (↓); this will become more clear as we proceed."

That is a good distinguishing point to make. Particularly since the imaginary is encouraged so much by those who imagine their imaginary reality is reality.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

My condolences and prayers go out to you guys, Magister and Kurt.
Hope does indeed spring eternal and thankfully, the seperation that death brings is only temporary.
Still not easy but nothing worth having is.

Magister said...

Thanks everyone, and Kurt, my prayers for you and yours, too. I must be cresting middle age these days because on my morning walks with the dog, I've been uncharacteristically interested in birds. Maybe the perception of mortality makes me more interested in things that sing and take flight.

I see them now as emblems of natural order. They return at specific times, they sing specific songs, they pair off on command, and there is a beautiful pattern to their overall disappearance and return. This is plain evidence of a natural rhythm and natural memory.

Seeing this gives some comfort to me that the rise and fall of our generations is held, divinely, in the same trustworthy way.