Friday, June 23, 2017

Images and Artholes of God

A few days ago we spoke of the two kinds of knowledge and how they relate to God. In one it is as if God is at the center of a series of concentric circles:

In the second, God is still at the center, only now related to the periphery by an infinite number of radii:

To the right is an image that combines both:

To review, the first image depicts discontinuity between knower and known, and ultimately between man and God.

Indeed, if we were a Kantian, there would be a black hole at the center, about which we can know nothing. That would be the famous noumena (or better, noumenon). Kant thought he was saving religion by placing this unknowable black hole at the center of everything. Thanks for nothing! No, literally.

The second image goes to knowledge that is continuous with what it knows. In fact, it goes to one of our foundational principles: that any truth is a function or reflection of the one Truth. It shows in a straightforward manner how "all truth leads to God," being that any conceivable radius leads both from and to the center.

The third image suggests that the world is a tapestry of circles and radii. Which it is. You could even say that the left cerebral hemisphere knows the circles, while the right knows the radii. (I would only add that the image should be spherical and dynamic instead of flat and static.)

Which is also why all left-brained knowledge is ultimately circular. It is necessarily exterior, self-enclosed, and tautologous. Gödel's theorems are merely a formal way of expressing this.

Ultimately, if you confine yourself to circular knowledge, you cannot say how you can actually know anything at all. Rather, you are just chasing your tail around the noumenal center.

Mysticism involves radial knowledge par excellence. The whole point of mystical experience is that it is one with what it knows. But if the real world is depicted in image #3, this means that everyone is a mystic and cannot help being so.

This explains a lot.

Please note that I didn't say they were good or even adequate mystics.

Who are my favorite mystics? Let's see. Meister Eckhart. Henri Le Saux (AKA Swami Abhishiktanada). I would say Schuon, but I wouldn't want to reduce him to one category.

Come to think of it, although Michael Polanyi was not a mystic per se, he essentially demonstrated how all circumferential knowledge is actually radial knowledge. His theory of personal knowledge gives us a "post-critical" philosophy that shows the way out of scientistic tautology.

Just yesterday I was thumbing through a few books by Abhishiktanda, and then ordered one I haven't read before, Prayer. It had been out of print for awhile, but has been republished. I'm pretty sure that for Abhishiktananda, the purpose of prayer is to hop on board one of the radii leading back to God.

There is an excellent biography of Abhishiktananda called A Christian Pilgrim in India. I notice that some guy named Ted gives it his highest endorsement while namedropping a prominent Raccoon.

Oldmeadow cites some passages from Prayer that precisely describe what we mean by radial knowledge: "Truly speaking, there is no outside and no inside, no without and no within in the mystery of God and in the divine Presence." It is because God is beyond form that "he can reveal and manifest himself under any form."

Oldmeadow quotes another perennialist, Jean Bies, who makes an orthoparadoxical statement that describes image #3 above: "Every form shows Him because He is in every form. None show Him because he is beyond forms." Perfect nonsense!

This is all prelude to discussion of another distinct kind of knowledge we call faith. As Schuon explains, "Faith amounts to an objectivized heart knowledge" which helps "awaken in us as far as possible the remembrance of innate truths."

Note the (ortho)paradox: "objectivized" implies circumferential, as in image #1. But "the remembrance of innate truths" is radial, as in image #2. Therefore, faith is a gift from God -- from the center to the periphery -- that allows the periphery to know the center in an "indirectly direct" way.

Was that clear? It is to me. Similarly, what is sacred art -- AKA art -- but the "recollection" of the center in the periphery? Or, it is like a hole in the circumference leading back to the center. Light from the center is radiated through the arthole.

Now, when man falls, he falls from the center to the periphery. Or, one might say that he goes from spontaneous radial knowledge of God to self-enclosed absurcular knowledge of the (or a) circumference.

Which goes to the purpose of revelation, which is a memo from Celestial Central that allows us to get right with the radius: it shows from the inside-out (or upside down) what we need to know from the outside-in (or downside-up).

That's about it for today. Extra duties, since the wife is out of town visiting her mother.


ted said...

Ha! I just re-read that review I gave it in 2011. I'm not as partial to Wilber's metaphysics these days, so I would have held back on my caveat today. It's still an excellent read!

julie said...

Ultimately, if you confine yourself to circular knowledge, you cannot say how you can actually know anything at all. Rather, you are just chasing your tail around the noumenal center.

Irenically, when your knowledge source radiates from the center to your little dot on the periphery, quite often you also cannot say how you know a particular something - or even, after having proclaimed it, what it was that you just said.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

The carnival is in constant move from the ineffable through the cosmos to the ineffable. In the cosmos the roads diverge only to converge in the original abode of faithful knowledge leaving the different forms to repose in the formless. One has to be aware not to take any name in order to be truthful to the one that has all the names and who resist to be seized by any one name. Purity of heart is the way to understand and to enter the divine sea of purity. Likes attract likes and one should never forget the ultimate destination. How ugly is the end of those who trapped themselves in the swamps of the the ungodliness.

Anonymous said...

In you post, you state everyone is a mystic.

The rishis of old concluded much the same. The way they stated it, is that full God-knowledge is possessed by all, however that full God- knowledge is temporarily withheld, occluded, or veiled during life, so only partial knowledge is accessible to the living.

The purpose of the blockade was to fortify the soul via longing for God during the "separation" which results from choosing to incarnate.

The ramifications of this concept is that one has only to wait for death, and all shall be remembered as before. The soul wakes refreshed and remembers life as a dream, in which much was learned and a certain kind of tempering and toughness was achieved, making the soul more beautiful than before.

One can't help but try to storm the gates of heaven while here, but no matter the obstacles, blessed mortality will bring what you seek, without fail.

Or not. There's no proof for any of this.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Life is a sifting process,involving divine testing for the humans in their journey back to him, pleasure and pain is part of the testing operation. Knowledge is not given it is gained through strife and struggle. It is part, grace and part human efforts and the mystery is that no one knows where one begins and the other starts. It is always for the humans to initiate the striving process to know, yet nobody knows for sure what triggers the move up. If gaining the scholastic knowledge is hard the gaining of the vertical knowledge is far harder. The whole process of initiating the divine knowledge is the goal of our earth journey that must start before death, that is the activation of the embodied consciousness before it returns to its nonphysical form through death.It is the awareness of the original energy that gives forms to all other energies positive or negative including the human mixed energies that requires sifting. Doubt is the killer of intuition as skepticism is the killer of the true and alas we are not firm in antagonizing the untrue and the ugly that is why the impact of change is minimal. Once one be present in the divine presence, one feels the change in his/her self and once he feels the aroma of that change he/she will be an effective tool in initiating change in others. The creative source of everything that is beyond comprehension that demands the humans trust to start the journey to him.