Friday, February 10, 2017

Organic Religiosity, with No Added Ingredients

Awhile back an anonymous reader left the following comment and question:

I agree with your assertion that deification is the purpose of man.... I would also be interested in your take on the situation, as you perceive it directly, without input from other minds.

For instance, Jesus is first encountered by reading about him or hearing him discussed. Imagine you had never touched a book or discussed spirituality with anyone. You are clean of human influence. What were/are your self-discovered intuitions on the matter of God?

I've been sitting on this question, waiting for an opportunity to weave it into a post. This may be that post, since the next chapter in Gnosis is conveniently called Is There a Natural Mysticism?

The short answer is that there is and must be, given the nature of cosmos and man, which contain and reflect one another in both preverbal and transverbal ways, mysticism being an "extra-linguistic" phenomenon.

In other words, mysticism is a direct apprehension of, or encounter with, the divine presence that bypasses language. So, it seems there is a common nonsense available to all. Let's see if Schuon agrees with that characterization.

"The concept of a 'natural mysticism'" goes to "forms of spirituality that do not enter into the framework of a given religion..." That being the case, it can ascend only so high, being that it "remains enclosed within the created... which it can in no way transcend" in the absence of a direct intervention from God. If you recall the symbols I used in the book, it may be thought of as the apotheosis of what man may attain via (↑) alone.

Nevertheless, as I believe we shall see, there really can be no (↑) without (↓), being that they actually constitute a continuous spiral and not broken or independent lines. Our ascent is already God's descent, just as our knowledge must be a "drawing out" of something that is already implicit in the phenomena we know. Obviously the intelligibility of things must be prior to our intelligence; it was there long before man arrived on the scene.

Recall Ibn Arabi's gag describing mystical union as being "alone with the alone." Well, in reality it is being "together with the together." And as the Fathers often remarked, all truth comes from the Holy Spirit. Put them together and you understand that all knowing is a two-gatheredness with the divine mind. Either it has roots that go all the way up, or it is nothing at all.

Time out for a cryptic word from our Aphorist: Any shared experience ends in a simulacrum of religion.

Likewise, God's informal grace falls on the world long before it formally rains dogmas and catechisms. However, such general graces will "have an 'irregular' and quasi-accidental character," because... how to put it... It reminds me of something Chesterton says... Which I can't locate at the moment, but I did find this: in his early writings, Chesterton "was intuiting Gospel truths from within life itself, 'without much help from religion'" (Chesterton as Mystic).

Later, "His faith in Christ raised these truths to higher dimensions," but "the root truths of the Gospel about the nature of reality were already present in his experience" (ibid., emphasis mine because That's What I'm Talkin' About).

"Chesterton was already living in two worlds, but it was Christ who revealed to him the true nature of both. Many truths in the Gospel were not so much discovered as confirmed for him" (ibid.). That too is What I'm Talkin' About.

I can't find the quote I'm looking for, but it has something to do with digging channels for flash floods (of grace). But the following is also helpful, for it goes to the absolute need for humility -- of humbly receiving and not eagerly grasping:

"There is a relevant story from one of the desert fathers who had a vision of an angel, who said to him: 'The Lord has sent me to you.' The humble little father answered: 'I don't know any reason why the Lord would visit me.' And the devil left him."

What was said above about Chesterton "living in two worlds" is very helpful. For there are always and inevitably these two worlds, no matter how you cut it. Try as you might, you can never confine things to one and eliminate the other. I would say that Gödel's theorems are a "merely" logical reflection of this deeper ontological reality: that your world can be consistent or complete, but not both.

I also believe we have our "two brains" for just this reason. Just as our two eyes permit us to perceive depth, and our two ears allow us to have a bitchin' stereo, our two brains disclose a world far richer than just one or the other alone would permit.

And in the final analysis these worlds are "rational" and "mystical." They are also "fundamentalist" and "ironic," but that's the subject of a slightly different post. But if you are a Raccoon, everyone you disagree with is being a fundamentalist where they should be ironic, and being literal where they should be mystical. And they are often being mystical in a totally untutored way, with no channels at all, just a downpour on a featureless plain.

However, it has gotten to the point that the people with whom we disagree are becoming frankly satanic in their confusion of the worlds. Here again, this is the subject of a slightly different post, but it comes to mind because I'm reading another book by Wild called Jousting with the Devil: Chesterton's Battle with the Father of Lies.

Maybe we'll vary the scheme and discuss this on Monday. Suffice it to say that one would have to be spiritually deaf and blind -- not to mention tasteless -- to not see that the country is in the midst of a hysterical demonic attack. To put it another way, the left is making it very hard to not believe in satan.

"Devil" is cognate with division and discord. Conversely, intelligence "brings back to unity." There is one view of the world "that is intellectual and unitive, and another that is existential and separative: the first envisions everything in relation to unity, even Existence," while "the second sees everything in relation to separativity, even Intelligence" (Schuon).

But guess what? The separativity dwells within the unity, or we couldn't even know it as separate. Thus "it is a matter of combining these two modes of vision, for each is valid in its own way" (ibid). Doing so reveals the depth of the cosmos, in that we see the mystical in the every day, the supernatural in the natural, the whole in the part.

So that's about it. I can think of no reason why the Lord would visit me today.


julie said...

To put it another way, the left is making it very hard to not believe in satan.

Yes. Certainly, enough of them are literally (though they usually claim they are being ironic) inclined to follow him and bring our children along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

"However, it has gotten to the point that the people with whom we disagree are becoming frankly satanic in their confusion of the worlds. "

Agreed. I find myself wondering if it's worth engaging anymore with friends who are in this camp. I used to think we could agree to disagree, but since the election the level of hostility has risen to the point that I don't even want to be in their presence.

Gagdad Bob said...

Maybe just parasites.

julie said...

Anon - yes. Especially bad when it's family. We still have friends we disagree with politically, but in almost all cases there's an agreement on both sides that we just don't talk politics. It helps that most of our friends here are more interested in our shared faith in Christ than in our worries about politics; we all know there's something higher and more important, and that we are all praying for His will to be done - individually and for our nation and the world. For people who don't have that, what else is there to say?

Re. the parasites, my daughter announced the other day that she doesn't want a cat when she grows up. Not sure why, but I couldn't help thinking that at least I won't have to worry about her becoming a crazy cat lady...

julie said...

And France has an 81% infection rate? That explains a lot...

Anonymous said...

Great post. The story where the man dispels the devil by his humble attitude was awesome. The devil....I must contemplate the devil more. I had dismissed him as a symbol for certain desires like greed, lust, sloth, and envy (which I took to be animal biological products of the struggle to survive in a harsh world). But there's got to be more to it.

The caveat being thinking a lot about the devil may bring his attention upon you, which is not a good thing, where as concentrating on God may bring you more positive results. It becomes a matter of what is the best use of your time.

I've often wondered if I am infested with Toxoplasmosis. It would help explain my leftist tendencies. I shall also consult with my gut biome and see what these 50 trillion little buggers have to say.

Anonymous said...

In need of some raccoon guidance:

Semi-observant Conservative Jew here who has come to believe that Christ is indeed who he said he was, and that the Oneness of God is a Oneness-in-Relationship of the tree persons of the Trinity.

Not quite sure what to do next...keep blazing a unique path of relationship "betwixt me and he Almighty," as Bob might say, or join the Catholic Church and receive the sacraments.

Any guidance for additional reading would be greatly appreciated.

julie said...

Hello, and welcome!
My first suggestion would be, "pray on it."

And listen, and watch for the answers.

I can say from experience that Christ leads us where we need to go, and brings us to the people we need at different times in our lives - especially in answer to prayer. That said, I personally do recommend the Catholic Church. If you're considering it, maybe just find a local parish and go to Mass a couple of times, and see what resonates. I've noticed that every church has a different character, so you might even try a couple if possible.

Also - it's great to hear an honest question. It might be helpful for people here if you could pick a nickname or a signature, just to help differentiate from the Anon who has a habit of asking questions that are best ignored.

For reading, there is always the essential Raccoon text, Meditations on the Tarot.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

God is present all the time, the problem is how we be aware of his presence and be present with him, It is a question of faithful awareness that can not be reached without the purity of the seeker heart.Purity of heart means detachment from others and attachment to him, that is exactly what Ibn Arabi meant when he said alone with the alone. Going to god is not an easy task. Negative vibrations internal and external are major hindrances in the way up to him or in his down to us. It is a mutual movement as the post stipulated. It is a personal journey the seeker needs to do it on his own alone. We do not ask people for light we ask the divine light for light and that is why all prophets point to him and leave it to the seeker to pursue his road to him. First step is to love you enemy as Jesus said. Hatred, bigotry prejedice. ill-intention are not among the vocabularies of the seeker. All the doors to him are open and initiation is left to you and once he finds you honest in your journey he will descend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abdulmonem:

I vibe with your response. It makes sense the independent mystic must lay aside negativity in order to clear the road to God. Easier said than done, as the Earth is loaded with negativity and indeed a case could be made this world was created for the purpose of generating negativity.

Where else can negativity be found? Certainly not in Heaven. Suppose a soul wanted to taste grief, fear, anxiety, guilt, anguish, and hopelessness? Suppose it does fortify a soul to do so? A location would have to be set up where these could be experienced. Viola, Earth. Carrier of a rare commodity, suffering.

That being said, once having enough of the bad, letting it go would be a sensible move; and extra points for doing so before death does the job for us. So the mystic, whether going it alone or using a religious template, is ahead of the curve and a star pupil.

Leslie Godwin said...

Anon, Sorry just joined this discussion and you might have posted more, but very interested in how you came to know that Jesus is who He said He was. I'm a relative newcomer to the Church (2009) and am studying to be a catechist. If you have any questions, I will do my best to respond.

I'm very respectful of Bob's approach, and have no problem with anyone who has a mystical soul that doesn't seek dogma. I have more of a bhakti yoga approach where I feel drawn with an intense love of God and try my best to submit my will to His and to listen for His guidance. (I'm leaving a lot out here ;)

There are several things that I find very meaningful about being inside the Church while learning my way around: having a spiritual home, the Sacraments, and it does seem to me that Jesus started the Church and that Mass is similar in significant ways to the way the early Church Fathers practiced.

If you have any questions, post them or email me at ice hockey fan 99 at gmail

I'll pray for you to find guidance and Grace, Mrs. G

doug saxum said...

Imagine you had never touched a book or discussed spirituality with anyone. You are clean of human influence. What were/are your self-discovered intuitions on the matter of God?

The First Nations of America had an intuition, the great "Mystery."

Charles Alexander Eastman (born Hakadah and later named Ohíye S’a; February 19, 1858 – January 8, 1939) was a Santee Dakota physician educated at Boston University, writer, national lecturer, and reformer. In the early 20th century, he was "one of the most prolific authors and speakers on Sioux ethnohistory and American Indian affairs."[1]

Fascinating view point!

doug saxum said...

Of course there was generations of input in their practice but you would have to be a baby raised by animals to not be influenced by someone at sometime.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Really it is a very rich dialogue,you can not taste the high without feeling the negativity of the low. The way up and the way down are intermeshed without separation. God wants us to be aware before praying. To be present with his creations first before we can enter his sphere. Who made us think and want to understand and made us express what we think and what we understand and why we do that if not to communicate first with the one who puts these faculties in us then to relate with other humans on this earth that is floating in this wide space together with other planets and stars. Who keeps them in their orbits,gravity then who made the gravity. It seems we have innate desire to know him that is why we are encouraged some time to speak about natural spirituality, that is not to say nature is the god but our guide to god. God is the graviton of everything physical and non-physical. Do not we see how our words are the graviton that attract us to each others or separate us from each other in line with our radiations and the radiations of other that decide our point of attractions. Who made the attraction and the dis-attractions. Uncertainty is our urge to seek certainty in our attraction to him. How much of that predetermined and how much is under our control is a matter for debate. Grace and human aspiration and no one knows when the first start and the second follow or in reverse. He would not be a god who has imposed death on everybody if the humans are left to do what ever they desire. Here comes our awareness to be present in his presence that is why humans are called to start with faith in what we do not see, using what we see as a guide to the unseen. Nobody knows what he will encounter tomorrow nor in what land he will die,but be truthful in the search for him and that is another fall between grace and aspiration.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

I am myself is in a self-initiation mission. silent with the silent, that is why the request of the anon dose not stop ignite my soul. It remind me of the call of all prophets to go for divine knowledge and not let yourself be besieged by human knowledge, meaning that there is away of gaining divine knowledge. A reporter asked mother Terasia, how do you pray she said I sit in silence and asked how he responds she said also in silence. We live in a time that the secret of contacting him has been unveiled, that is sitting in silence in his presence without letting anything disturbs your awareness with him. Of course it is difficult but your honesty in pursuing the road to him will lessen that difficulty. Call it meditation, call it contemplation, call it concentration dose not matter, what matter is your honest intention and truthful devotion to know him.

Van Harvey said...

"...But if you are a Raccoon, everyone you disagree with is being a fundamentalist where they should be ironic, and being literal where they should be mystical. And they are often being mystical in a totally untutored way, with no channels at all, just a downpour on a featureless plain."

And it is and should be no surprise that what follows from that, is,

"..., it has gotten to the point that the people with whom we disagree are becoming frankly satanic in their confusion of the worlds...."

I've found myself in several threads recently, where seemingly rational people , college graduates (of Course), are stating, chiding me, that as a sober matter of fact, that 'Well, but there isn't just one reality, there are many, and you can't really know mine, or pass judgment on it...' (vice versa of course, Not being 'true').

""Devil" is cognate with division and discord. Conversely, intelligence "brings back to unity.""