Monday, October 03, 2016

Betwixt & Between

We left off Friday with the suggestion that "God describes himself to himself -- and to us -- through ourselves in communion with him. Thus, 'by knowing Him I give Him being' (Corbin). And vice versa, because it is the same inspiraling movement."

Let's see if we can make any further nonsense of this. God gives man the being through which man knows God's being. Thus, it is ultimately "God who makes Himself into God" -- which reminds me of the distinction in the godhead between Being and Beyond-Being. In Schuon's "universal metaphysics," the first movement is from Beyond-Being to Being; the latter is absolute relative to us, but relative from the standpoint of Beyond-Being:

"Being does not coincide with the 'pure Absolute'; it pertains to the Divine Order inasmuch as it is a direct reflection of the Absolute in the Relative, and consequently it is what may be termed paradoxically the 'relatively absolute'" (Schuon).

Indeed, "If the personal God were the Absolute as such, He could not be an interlocutor for man" (ibid.). In other words, again, in order to enter communion with man, God must first appear in a form which man is able to recognize and assimilate. But of Beyond-Being, we can know nothing, precisely. It is the apophatic God, whereas the cataphatic God coincides with his Being-ness -- his manifestavus for the restavus.

Perhaps something sounds wrong or heretical or unorthodox about this. Maybe so, but this is certainly one of the keys to understanding what Meister Eckhart is going on about: "God is nothing. No thing. God is nothingness; and yet God is something. God is neither this thing nor that thing that we can express. God is a being beyond all being; God is a beingless being."

Or "The final goal of being is the darkness and the unknowability of the hidden divinity, which is that light which shines 'but the darkness cannot comprehend it.'" "God is a being beyond being and a nothingness beyond being."

And in one that goes directly to what is said in the first paragraph above, "Just as God breaks through me, so do I break through God in return." In other words, it is two sides of a single movement: "It presses on deeper and deeper into the vortex" and "further and further into the whirlpool" where "God gushes up within himself."

Here is another from the Meister that goes directly to the idea of God wishing to be known by God via humans, so to speak: "Now, it is the nature of a word to reveal what is hidden. The Word that is hidden still sparkles in the darkness and whispers in the silence. It entices us to pursue it, to yearn and sigh after it. For it wishes to reveal to me something about God."

I might add that -- at least in my opinion -- it would be an error to think of Being and Beyond Being as separate; rather, I unvision it as a kind of single flowing movement, or perpetual outflowing from the ultimate source and ground. But just as the the river cannot be separated from the spring from which it flows (or light rays from the sun), God cannot be separated from Godhead.

Back to Corbin: God is "Presence of Himself to Himself, since the being who knows is the very same being in whom He knows Himself." Really, man is just a further iteration of this primordial divine whirlpool of self-knowledge. Which is why we can say, for example, that any knowledge is ultimately knowledge of God.

In fact, there are other human categories that make no sense in the absence of God, for example, authority and law. We have no moral obligation to obey an unjust law. Why? Because such a law is the negation of law, precisely.

And what is authority? Is it just "turtles all the way up," with no ground in a transcendent reality? No, that is tyranny, i.e., authority rooted in nothing but power. Power, in order to be legitimate, must ultimately be rooted in God or nothing.

I remember a gag about a captain of the Royal Navy, who said something to the effect that "if there is not God, than I am not the captain." It also reminds me of people who talk about "first amendment protected speech." This begs the question of why speech is protected at all. The larger point is that speech is grounded in truth and therefore God. Omit that idea and speech is reduced to a privilege granted by the state.

In fact, why do humans have rights at all? There can be no right that doesn't ultimately descend from God. Otherwise they can be granted or denied at will by man.

If we are images of God, this is another way of saying that we are mirrors for God. I read somewhere that Jesus is, as it were, God's image of man and man's image of God; he is a two-way mirror.

Corbin compares it to "an ellipse, one focus of which is the being of God for and through me, while the other is my being for and through Him..." It is an "area enclosing the the two of us," where "He is for me in proportion to my capacity for Him and in which my knowledge of Him is His knowledge of me."

Yes, Corbin is a little repetitive, but perhaps such a strange idea bears repetition. "We have given Him the power to manifest himself through us, Whereas He gave us the power to exist through Him. Thus the role is shared between Him and us" (ibid.).

Say, just what religion do you profess, Preacher?

The religion the Almighty and me worked out betwixt us.


julie said...

In fact, why do humans have rights at all? There can be no right that doesn't ultimately descend from God. Otherwise they can be granted or denied at will by man.

Exactly. This is one of those inconvenient truths that atheists tend not to appreciate.

Further, if there is an Absolute, it follows that hierarchy is built into the very fabric of existence. Or rather, it is part of the fractal nature of reality as it radiates out from the Absolute.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

It is beautifully satisfying to meander in the divine cosmos and in the one who created the cosmos and the human who has been given the soul to seek his presence, knowing that wherever he turns he meets Him and whatever knowledge he gains,it is a knowledge of god. Corbin is trying to capture Ibn Arabi divine experience which he claimed to have been able to be present in his presence and what he writes is revelation coming from the source. Schuon attests to such universal divine experience. Gueunon identifies the malady of the west by its persistent attempts to solidify the spiritual and refuse to see the physical as a spiritualized condensed matter. When the language of god is turned upside down and the human forgets his message on earth, forgetting that he is both master and emissary as it is reflected by his brain structures and to know to whom he is emissary and on whom he is a master and forgets his two basic roles as a servant to god as the only master and avoid being slave to any other than god and not not to forget his serfdom to god while he is exercising his master role in earth

Joan of Argghh! said...

I had just finished watching this and then came here to read this post. But as I watched the video, I had already imagined this post, in a way; that God doesn't exist until we observe Him. And we cannot know ourselves until we know that He has "observed" us.

*wanders off to think*