How does the soul actually unveil and thereby reveal itself? Via its spontaneous attraction to various objects and subjects (persons). The world presents us with a panorama of potential choices, each veiling a deeper truth. So long as the choice is free and not compelled or conditioned, it reveals to us something about ourselves. You could say that our spontaneous attractions are like contrails of the soul.
But there are vertical degrees of attraction. For example, we are all attracted to food, but this hardly defines the soul. Rather, for a human being, this type of preference is accidental and not essential. If you prefer vanilla and I chocolate, it is of no consequence to the soul.
Perhaps the primary purpose of civilization is to disclose and preserve a range of higher choices for the soul. Take, for example, the Muslim middle east. There the soul is not given many choices. Indeed, no one there even chooses to be Muslim, since no other choice is permitted.
Although there are relatively few conversions to Judaism, I remember reading somewhere that not every Jew is born into Judaism. Rather, one may have a "Jewish soul" but not realize it until one encounters Judaism, which results in a shock of recognition -- of oneself.
This is obviously quite common with Christianity, and in a way, is behind every conversion. In particular, think of the response to the first evangelists. Somehow, people heard the message and said to themselves, Yup, that's me. This is a quintessential example of vertical recollection, or what we call recognosis.
I can think of many similar examples. Kallistos Ware writes of his "personal journey to Orthodoxy," which "happened quite unexpectedly on a Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1952." He was walking past an old church he'd never noticed before and decided to wander in.
As a service began,
My initial impression of an absence was now replaced, with a sudden rush, by an overwhelming sense of presence. I felt that the church, so far from being empty, was full -- full of countless unseen worshipers, surrounding me on every side. Intuitively I realized that we, the visible congregation, were part of a much larger whole, and that as we prayed we were being taken up into an action far greater than ourselves, into an undivided, all-embracing celebration that united time and eternity, things below with things above.
Vertical recollection, big time. Which implies that atheists and other wayward souls are literally suffering from a form of vertical amnesia -- or what we call I AMnesia (more on which as we proceed).
More to the point, as Ware left the church, he said to himself
with a clear sense of conviction: This is where I belong; I have come home. Sometimes it happens -- is it not curious? -- that, before we have learnt anything in detail about a person, a place or subject, we know with certainty: This is the person that I shall love, this is the place I need to go, this is the subject that, above all others, I must spend my life exploring.
As alluded to in the book, it is as if the world is a complex phase space filled with nonlocal attractors of various kinds. We know the attractors are there, because we are routinely pulled into them.
And of course, not all attractors are positive! Seductions and snares are everywhere, i.e., Powers, Principalities, Thrones, Dominions, all pulling us this way and that.
Back to Ware for a moment. I've read that if one attempts to convert to Judaism, the rabbi will initially discourage the seeker. It's a test. Ware encountered the same sort of resistance, but the more he learned about it, "the more I realized: this is what I have always believed in my inmost self, but never before did I hear it so well expressed" (emphasis mine).
So, that is the ultimate recognosis: the vertical re-collection of oneself, and with it, God. The two -- the inner and outer -- are simultaneous.
Faith itself is not supposed to be a passive acceptance of static propositions. Rather, as Schuon says, its real purpose is "to inform us concerning that of which our soul is urgently in need, and to awaken in us as far as possible the remembrance of innate truths."
The remembrance of innate truths.
Om, now I remurmur!
And "Religious revelation is both a veil of light and a light veiled" (ibid.).
Have you heard the One about Light from Light? Viveka la Reveilation!
Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities. --Dávila