As always, it's a little difficult to pick up the thread when I haven't posted for a few days. It's like a musician stopping in the middle of a solo and then trying to finish it the next week. It's much more a matter of entering the frame of mind that was present when you left off.
No, that's not right. It's not the frame, nor the content. I can always continue with the same subject, but only in an exterior way. In other words, the problem is reentering the same "space" one was in. As such, a better analogy is waking up and then going to sleep the next night and trying to continue in the same dream.
That right there is a critical point, and it actually converges on our current theme of the futility of merely objective knowledge of God: objective knowledge without subjective experience is not only empty, but Kierkegaard would say it is false. Somewhere he -- or someone -- says, better to be a passionate sinner than a hollow believer. Or some orthopardox to that effect.
The point is, it's no use pretending to be who you're not, or pretending not to be who you are. After all, we're talking about God, who cannot be fooled. He knows exactly who you are.
In psychology there is a distinction between states and traits: "Personality traits are characteristic behaviors and feelings that are consistent and long lasting. Unlike traits, which are stable characteristics, states are temporary behaviors or feelings that depend on a person's situation and motives at a particular time."
You might say that states are more spatial, while traits are prolonged in time. It's as if various potential states are at a right angle to linear time.
For example, there is the well known distinction between sacred and profane time; last Saturday evening we went to church, which I simply use as an opportunity to enter sacred time. Or rather, it is as if sacred time enters me. That is, I just close my eyes and empty my head, and the Spirit takes care of the rest.
I recently read the fourth volume of Robert Spitzer's quartet -- now quintet and rising -- on happiness, suffering, and transcendence, The Light Shines in the Darkness: Transforming Suffering Through Faith, and... Period. That sentence was long enough. Anyway, in it there are some passages that precisely parallel my own experience of what I symbolize as (↓) and (---) in the book.
One common way (↓) manifests is through "little coincidences" to which we must pay attention and not dismiss. Really, it's just a different way of looking at the world -- a more right-brained way involving pattern recognition (or recognosis). Words may jump out, -- BOO! -- whether "on the printed page or on a television program." The Spirit "works with subtle increases in tone and volume, subtle coincidences and gentle proddings."
Pretty soon you discover you're inside a conspiracy of providence! This is when the Raccoon whispers the sacred mantra to himself: Can I buy some pot from you?
As the cosmic coincidences begin to pile up "in conversations, books, and other media," it may mean the Spirit is up to something. He -- or possibly She -- "gives us the 'clue' of what to look for, but we must be attentive to how that opportunity might be actualized in our lives." Is there a way to tell when it's a clue and not a red herring?
Spitzer says Yes: it is a "sense of peace" (---) that "persists and lasts." Conversely, "if discord and anxiousness occur, it could be a sign that the Spirit is moving us away from this particular external opportunity." Or, just say increased fragmentation, AKA (•••••) instead of (•). We are always converging upon Unity -- or fragmentation.
In reality, this is simply the structure of our psychic metabolism, which is a complementarity between the two: we chew our food into fragments so it can be taken up into the higher unity of the body. Just so, all day long we are immersed in "fragments of being" that it is our task to weave into the cosmic area rug that pulls it all together. Indeed, this seems to be one of the functions of dreaming, and why people who cannot dream soon become crazy quilts.
For reasons we won't get into, Bion symbolized this psychic metabolism (PS) <-> (D). Note the two-way arrow, for we are always falling apart and coming back together. It is a process, somewhat like a whirlpool, which maintains its shape even while the content is constantly changing.
Have you ever met someone who can't maintain the whirlpool, but is just a collection of disconnected fragments? I recently had a patient with that problem, which you might say is the Problem of problems. Conversely, there are people who are utterly stable but lifeless: instead of dynamic process-structures, they are static and closed structures that cannot metabolize novelty.
By the way, the peace referenced above is not a static thing. The dead are peaceful in their own way. But real peace is a presence, not an absence; it's a thing.
Or better, a person and a relationship. So it can be accompanied by inspiration and enthusiasm, only it will have a peaceful and not manic quality. This manic quality occurs, for example, when your baseball team has a walk-off victory, or when you just made a Big Purchase, or with certain kinds of rock music. There's nothing wrong with it, just don't confuse it with the more lasting kind.
Come to think of it, "the Evil One uses exaggeration to move fervent and enthusiastic people to discouragement or spiritual pride -- or both" (ibid.). For all intents and purposes, rock music used to be my religion. But even then, there was always something in me that saw behind or beneath or above it to something else. If not for that, I'd just be one of those pathetic aging hippies who haven't taken a new imprint since 1967.
In that regard, we'll be hearing a lot about the Summer of Love, being that it's the 50 year anniversary. It is the last word in boomer narcissism, so prepare to be nauseated. I was only 11 at the time, so don't blame me.
How does all this relate to Kierkegaard? Speaking of the Summer of Love -- and of drugs -- a coincidence: "Most people, through alcohol, drugs, the splendor of nature or perhaps through insight that arises from a book or movie, occasionally have experienced profound and enlightening realizations," AKA (?!).
But then they're gone. This is why our sad old hippies never stop trying to resuscitate this corpse. I suppose you could say it's a substitute for resurrection.
This will seem off-the-wall, but I happened to read this interview with the laughably pompous and self-important Donovan, who was big in 1967. So big he refuses to leave:
... what we are listening to in popular music is really, from 1964 onwards, not only a revolution but a renaissance. The world must understand that the door that was opened -- and I kicked the door open first, it seems -- and the world was in deep trouble after the Industrial Revolution, two World Wars and a Depression and nuclear bombs and the systematic destruction of the ecosystem. We were the change. They call it the new Age of Aquarius.
The world is still not out of trouble and what we brought in, the conscious songwriters of the ’60s, and all the things we did musically, breaking down all barriers... Donovan, Paul and Ringo and my wife Linda, we are still doing the same thing...
Wow. What a jackass! Despite Donovan's efforts -- and even a hand from Ringo -- the world still has some problems. I can't imagine why.
Pretty scattered post, eh? We'll leave off with this:
"[E]nlightenment is a moment-by-moment experience. Subjective truths are the living fruits of awareness that exist only in the burning fire of subjective experience -- when the fire goes out the truth becomes a lifeless, impotent, empty 'word husk'" (Watts).
Like Donovan. Except I'm uncomfortable with that word "enlightenment." The Light is coming in, to be sure, but it's because we're in relationship to a source that transcends us, not because we possess anything.