Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Waystation Between Must Be and Can't Be

There are three sorts of existence: there is Necessary Being, "which cannot not be." Then there are things that cannot be under any circumstances: necessary not-being, you might say, or just plain impossibility (although the Cubs are posing a challenge to that one). Then there is the realm of the Possible, of things that might or might not be. That would include you and I, "whose relationship to existence and nonexistence is equal."

D'oh! This means that we always have one foot in existence and another on a banana peel. It is what makes life so... bracing. We are situated smack dab between Must Be and Can't Be, so there is an inherent degree of absurdity, or at least ambiguity.

To choose atheism or scientism or existentialism is to essentially say we are either children of the Can't Be or an extension of the Must Be. If the former, then our lives are indeed absurd and nothing more. And if we have no free will, then it is as if everything is preordained, and we Must Be who and what we are.

It seems that people are uncomfortable with the ambiguity and enigma of the Possible. One immediate implication is that there is a lot of Luck involved. Why did that white guy in Charlotte get dragged from his car last night and brutalized by the rioting savages? Wrong place at the wrong time. Bad luck.

I'm thinking of Curtis Mayfield, who was just standing on stage at an outdoor concert when a lighting scaffold blew over and crashed down on him, breaking his neck and rendering him quadriplegic. A couple of years ago an enormous tree broke in half and crashed into my back yard. If anyone had been standing there, it would have killed him. Who knows how many close calls we have in a given day? We generally only know about the bad things that happen, but not all the near misses.

The point is, we are always perched between existence and nonexistence, and although we can take precautions, there is nevertheless an element of randomness we can't eliminate. If we could, then we would be in the realm of necessity, not possibility.

In fact, for Schuon, God's All-Possibility is the whole explanation of evil. Evil is something that ought not be, but is nevertheless possible. What Schuon would say is that God doesn't will evil, of course, only possibility. But possibility includes the negation of God's will, hence, evil.

"Infinitude, which is an aspect of the Divine Nature, implies unlimited Possibility and consequently Relativity, Manifestation, the world. To speak of the world is to speak of separation from the Principle, and to speak of separation is to speak of the possibility -- and necessity -- of evil; seen from this angle, what we term evil is thus indirectly a result of Infinitude, hence of the Divine Nature..."

Therefore, "The nature of evil, and not its inevitability, constitutes its condemnation; its inevitability must be accepted, for tragedy enters perforce into the divine play, if only because the world is not God; one must not accept error, but one must be resigned to its existence." Haters gonna hate, and all that.

This latter goes to man's fallen nature (or to the tragic vision of life, if you prefer), and it is precisely this Lamentable Fact that the liberal denies (c.f., Sowell's A Conflist of Visions and Vision of the Anointed).

So, the world is a tapestry of necessity and contingency, which is precisely what makes it the world. If not for the contingency, it would be heaven. Schuon says somewhere that it is also product of geometry and music; and what is architecture but frozen music, and music but flowing architecture?

This means that to perceive reality we must, as it were, see the geometry and hear the music. In a certain sense, science is about the former, art and religion the latter. But there is also a kind of intuitive hearing in science, and a kind of hierarchical structure in God.

Now, one of the purposes of religion is to render us more "real" by participating in the Real -- in Necessary Being. In our own way, we participate in Necessary Being simply by virtue of our uniqueness: "each human being is a unique reflection of God, since 'Self-disclosure never repeats itself.'"

So, on the one hand, we might or might not have been; but once we are, then there can be no repetition. Our "true self" -- or soul -- must be a kind of fragment of Cosmic Necessity, of the Divine I AM, but again, woven with contingency.

And "man is not man until he brings the divine attributes latent within himself into actuality." But most people -- you will have noticed -- are closer to "animal man," or "animals in human form, since they have not actualized the divine form which would make them human."

So, it appears that the human station is the very possibility of participating in human being or in non-being: your call. If you've never met a human non-being, then you need to get out of the house more often. Or just turn on the news.

"'Animal man' is the opposite of perfect man," whether the latter is limited to Jesus or is widened out to encompass the saints. From my perspective, I think the saints "participate" in Jesus, hence the (relative) perfection.

Jesus is "the way," but also the "waystation." For "A 'waystation' is a station to which God descends to you, or within which you alight upon Him.... He desires to descend to you and places within your heart a seeking to alight upon Him" -- the old (⇅).

Well, that's about the size of it.


julie said...

So, it appears that the human station is the very possibility of participating in human being or in non-being: your call. If you've never met a human non-being, then you need to get out of the house more often. Or just turn on the news.

Then some days, just turn it right back off and back away from the internet.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

I did not know that I will be back so soon, but I am happy I have returned so soon to enjoy your journey in the realm of the divine, making mention of Ibn Arabi through the lens of Chittick and the revelation of Abu Bakir, the second man after Mohammad that non-comprehension is comprehension and that all roads lead to the one provided the seeker be pure, honest and sincere and the main concern of the journey is not with the mental concept of being but the experience of being that is where concept and being are unified. I know you hate multiculturalism but we are in a time where we can not avoid it. We are all under his never stopping inrushes some aware of such radiations and other in a state of oblivion. It is sad to see the geometry and not hear the music. The music of the one who has been prior to the existence of everything and who will be after the eradication of everything and his music will not stop until the time he will. As you said we have to remember the misses and heed what happen good or bad. God created evil but he does not will it and remind the human to be cognizant of it and like god will it not. Also we have to watch our language because words are often hooks that catch us in time entrapment and be aware of the dispersive and diffusive nature of words which may imprison one in either multiplicity or oneness depriving him thus from the eternal movement between the opposite poles of life that keeps life going. All humans have mind and one have to be humble and careful not to underestimate others because there always who are more knowledgeable as was revealed to us by the story of Moses and the greenman. We are in a new time far away from the prophets and we have been given the expanded consciousness to choose. Life is not a tournament of words but a dialogue for human betterment. Thank you.

Van Harvey said...

abdull oathed:

"God created evil but he does not will it..."

, which when added to this,

"Also we have to watch our language because words are often hooks that catch us..."

equals magnuttic irony.

Happy Yom Kippur adbull.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Hi harvey
I did not make an oath but made a true statement that god is the creator of everything including bad and good and you and me and what we do and left to us to select the doing we desire out of the sea of his potentialities and everyone is pawned by his words and deeds, that is of course for those who have faith in the intelligent light of the one that rules supreme in his cosmos. It is of course our will which is under test not his will and when he made his will conceivable by the human, it is only to help the human to navigate in his bewildering world. We are in an alphabetical universe that is motivated by language and not by numbers of addition ad subtraction. and that is why there are linguistic formations called mantra to withdraw the divine knowledge to the human sphere. There is no addition between the above and the below and the irony is in the heart of the beholder. As for attributing happiness to yom kippur instead of sorrow for a day of atonement in which the human put off an old spiritual attire and wear a new one with the intention of keeping the oath in an uncertain time did not make me happy but made sad as to the destiny of this turmoil world of ours. May god help us to understand each other since dialogue is put for the human to know each other and get along toward a bright future. thank you for a nice ride.

Jason T. said...


I haven't stopped by for a while, but after reading this post I went back and read the previous week's posts. Incredible stream of insights you have going on here. I particularly enjoy reading your thoughts on the imaginal, the space 'between world and soul,' as you call it. In that vein, a couple of book recommendations for you: Through a Speculem That Shines by Eliot Wolfson, and Authors of the Impossible by Jeffrey Kripal. Both fascinating reads on the imaginal as a vessel of Revelation, as well as an arbiter of all kinds of high strangeness.

Just a quick thought on the nature of randomness. In my experience everything is imbued with Purpose and Meaning, given time and a willingness to understand it, even so called bad luck. Every catastrophe and hardship has given me an opportunity to look within and find my resistance to Necessity, and in that willingness to surrender to what Must Be is a widening of my connection to the Infinite, as well as an intensification of my grounding in the Absolute. I think that all things which come into our life--good or bad--have the potential to help us remember our Divine Self, IF WE IMAGINE IT TO BE SO.

We are in the world, a place of ignorance and error and suffering and evil. There is no doubt about that. And while we are limited in our freedom, by upbringing or health or bad luck or good luck, the one thing that I know for certain is that we choose to be here. It is not a punishment, but a willful act to forget our Divinity and fall into the unconsciousness of the world. Everything in reality is poking and prodding us to remember and accept what we truly are, what we have always been, and so even the despicable is overflowing with Meaning and Purpose.

I am reminded of a stanza about death from Aurobindo in Savitri, death being the ultimate Necessity:

Although death walks beside us
On life's road,
A dim bystander
At the body's start
And a last judgement
On man's futile works,
Other is the riddle
Of its ambiguous face.
Death is a stair, a door,
A stumbling stride
The soul must take
From birth to birth,
A grey defeat pregnant with victory,
A whip to lash us
Towards our deathless state.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Abdul, honey. Your ramblings are as an insect we overlook while walking a path. We cannot come down to where you are, try as we might, plead as you may. It is simply impossible.

julie said...

Off topic,
something warm and fuzzy to start the weekend.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Thanks, Julie! All the feelz!

julie said...


Leads to something I occasionally wonder about - why it is that something warm and soft and fuzzy should feel so absolutely wonderful, so much so that even looking at a picture can evoke ridiculous levels of pleasure in the viewer. How weird! Just one of the many ways we are loved, I guess :)

Allena said...

What's with all the paragraph hate Abdul?
Paragraphs are our friends.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Oh thank you joan of Argghh! In the field we are talking within,there is nothing impossible when we have a divine facilitator that is guiding the ship toward destruction or safe haven in light of our negative or positive involvement. In knowing our destiny a head of time resides our safety for those who know how to abide by the rules that lead to safety. No oppression! each will eat the bun they made. Thank you again for honesty and say what is in your heart.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

We are all seekers for friends for soul mate, even god seeks friends that is why we read in the sufis literature many stories about those they call the friends of god and those who are not good friends to god can not make good human friends. As for the reference to the hate, it came as a reminder of the ugliness of hatred in the path of those who are after god, the truth of our cosmos and ourselves. Perceptive human presence in the only conscious divine presence. We are all journeying to Him, and so it would better to seek to know him before meeting Him

Allena said...

I believe God loves paragraphs as well.
Jest saying.

Van Harvey said...

(Kinda makes one wistful for the cat crooner troll)

Joan of Argghh! said...

Truly, Abdul, you have a dizzying intellect.

(10 pts to whomever can come up with the cultural reference.)

Dread Pirate Roberts said...

As you wish.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Oh! Joan if you only remember your divine cultural reference you will be more dizzy as was put by Ibn Arabi and quoted by Bob in one of his post, namely the sphere of god, the eternal conscious field, is a sphere of bewilderment where the known meets the unknown and the unknown makes himself felt by the known.I do want to cause you more dizziness but what I can do if he is nearer to you than your jugular vein and want you to feel Him.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Should I be uneasy about references to my jugular vein from a guy named Abdul?