Friday, July 15, 2016

Collaborating with the Handicapped God

Continuing with yesterday's post, we left off with the idea that persons are subjects of consciousness and freedom. Person "signifies self-consciousness," such that the three persons of the Trinity "may be seen as 'distinct acts of self-consciousness making use of that one unrestricted power.'"

Now, "Self-consciousness is awareness of one's awareness" or "consciousness of one's consciousness" (Spitzer). Thus, "this remarkable power seems to defy physical explanation, because it can be in two relative positions with respect to itself simultaneously." In other words, it is as if the inner universe of consciousness may double back "on itself at an infinite velocity, so that it can be 'inside' itself..."

That is not as clear as it could be. I would say that with self-consciousness we are simultaneously conscious (in consciousness) and somehow above or "outside" it. But this can't be the case. There can't be any strict line between consciousness and self-consciousness, because the latter must ultimately be a mode of the former. Even so, they are quite distinct, and the distinction lies at the foundation of our humanness.

It very much reminds me of the distinction in psychoanalysis between the conscious and unconscious minds. We can talk about the two as if they are separate, but they can't be. Rather, it is more like the yin-yang symbol of the Tao, in which there is unconsciousness in every act of consciousness, and vice versa.

Or, it is like the wave/particle distinction in quantum physics: a particular thought is the precipitate of a wavelike flow of consciousness, in which our conscious mind is analogous to the "shore." We're just children at play along the infinite shore where the waves of eternity break upon the sands time.

We all attempt to use what we know to understand what we don't. In the past, I have mentioned my suspicion that there is something analogous to the conscious/unconscious distinction in God. However, this expresses it backwards. That is to say, it is we who are in the image of God; therefore, our conscious/unconscious structure must be a distant echo of what goes on in God. We are the way we are because God is the way He is.

And remember, when we say "unconscious," we certainly don't mean ignorant, or undirected, or sub-conscious. Rather, it is more like a supra- or hyperconsciousness -- like the total implicate field as opposed to the particulate point of selfhood. As the psychoanalyst James Grotstein expressed it in this decade old post, what we call the unconscious is in actuality

"a sort of alter-ego, or 'stranger within' that shadows our existence in a most intimate, creative, and mysterious way. Far from being 'primitive and impersonal,' it is 'subjective and ultra-personal,' a 'mystical, preternatural, numinous second self' characterized by 'a loftiness, sophistication, versatility, profundity, virtuosity, and brilliance that utterly dwarf the conscious aspects of the ego.'"

From the same post:

Grotstein sees the unconscious as a sort of “handicapped” god who needs a partner in order to accomplish its mission. The goal of psychotherapy is not merely knowledge of, or insight into, the unconscious, but something far greater. Rather, it is to establish a sort of dynamic collaboration between the phenomenal ego -- our conscious self -- and the “ineffable subject of being” upon which the ego floats, and into which it infinitely extends (for the boat is paradoxically made of the same water upon which it floats).

Through a creative resonance between these two aspects of ourselves, we are much more spontaneously alive, creative, and “present.” It is like adding another dimension (or two or three) of depth to our being, through which we become something that has never actually been, but is somehow more real than what we presently are. A new entity emerges, a “transcendent subject” that lives harmoniously in the dialectical space between our “foreground self” and this mysterious “background subject” that surrounds and vivifies it.

You might say that we help God come into being, or to transition from the implicate to explicate order. Could it be that something similar occurs within the Godhead?

This is what I mean by applying the Being/Beyond-Being distinction to God. Again, it is all just one flowing movement.

And now that I think about it, it is as if there exist vertical and horizontal in God; the distinction between Godhead and Trinity would be on the "vertical" plane, while the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity would be "horizontal." The Father is not "above" the Son or Spirit, but on the same level. But the infinite Divine Nature must be "above" them, in a manner of speaking.

Spitzer: "[T]here can be only one unrestricted power, but Christian revelation holds that there are three Persons in this one power.... This is not contradictory because [as explained above] an unrestricted power can accommodate multiple acts of self-consciousness.... The one unrestricted power acts as a single 'power source' for the three distinct acts of self-consciousness."

So, that's about it for today. To be continued...


ted said...

And now that I think about it, it is as if there exist vertical and horizontal in God; the distinction between Godhead and Trinity would be on the "vertical" plane, while the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity would be "horizontal."

That's a compelling insight. It's as if the Trinity as persons that fractal-likely connects the divine with the human.

Olden Ears said...

Re paragraphs 2 & 3: I've been trying to understand the concept of Atma. Is that what we're talking about here?