Monday, July 10, 2017

Simon Says Grab Your Bucket

So often problems result from trying to divide complementarities that cannot be divided -- for example, realism from nominalism.

The latter denies the existence of essences, such that there is no such thing as (for example) human nature, rather, just this or that particular human. A nominalist would insist that essences such as human nature are just products of our imagination that do not exist in reality.

Which sounds crazy to a Raccoon. Nevertheless, it has its place in the scheme of things. For example, I remember stories of people on LSD suddenly realizing that this was a TREE! Not just any tree, but a TREE! Prior to this realization they had merely perceived the category of treeness, but now they were seeing and communing with a real TREE!

Trees notwithstanding, there are some entities that cannot be members of any other category. Or one entity, anyway: God. Only God is God -- although even then, there are certain qualifications, more on which as we proceed.

Man would be the closest such entity this side of creation, being that every human being is a unique instance, with the exception of MSM journalists, who are all the same.

As to the qualifier around God being God, Schuon suggests -- or insists, rather -- that the first division is not between God and creation, but rather, within God. Indeed, you might say that the essence/form complementarity extends all the way up and into God: there is the formless God known only to God, and the "confessional face" of God, which is turned toward us.

By way of analogy, we can see our friend's face and know it's him. But is it ever really possible to know him, from the inside out? No.

And indeed, the central Christian mystery is God literally taking on a human face. But can we really know what's going on behind the face? Nah.

In any event, it should be uncontroversial to a Raccoon that "The psychic and mental consciousness perceives appearances" whereas "intellectual or heart knowledge perceives the Essence." We see both, but not with the same eye(s).

Recall Jesus asking the disciples face-to-face: Who do you say I am? Peter, stone cold sober but with eyes surely not made by Darwin, blurts out, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

Like anyone could know that! Or, like any merely terrestrial eyes could see that.

For this is not revealed to Simon "by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." A communication of essence occurs, but it is Essence-to-essence, as it were -- from the deepest part of reality to the deepest part of the erstwhile Simon. No doubt Simon surprised even -- or especially -- himself with his left-field utterance.

If the first "division" is between Godhead and Creator, the second must be between Creator and Creation. Bear in mind that this is all "in a manner of speaking," or from the human point of view. From God's perspective...

Well, we can't really know, can we? But it might be something as simple and spontaneous as the Aeon playing like a child along the shore with with colored balls (to paraphrase a gag from Heraclitus). God is the endless nonlocal ocean, we are the materialized local shore. Didn't Rumi say some perfectly nonsensical things about this?

It's been awhile. Let me see.

The introduction says that Rumi's creativity was like a continuous fountain "from beyond forms and the mind," or "from a mind within the mind." His poems "are not discrete entities but a fluid," "not so much about anything as spoken from within something." Indeed, his poetry "can be felt as a salt breeze" from the ocean, "traveling inland." And inward.


My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, / and I intend to end up there...

I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary...

Lo, I am with you always means that when you look for God, / God is in the look in your eyes, / in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self...


Try to be a sheet of paper with nothing on it. / Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing, / where something might be planted, / a seed, possibly, from the Absolute....

Do you think I know what I'm doing? / That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself? / As much as a pen knows what it's writing, / or the ball can guess where it's going next.


This is how it always is / when I finish a poem. / A great silence comes over me, and I wonder why I ever thought / to use language.

I'm lookin' at you, bOb!

1. Grab your little bucket. 2. Proceed to the ocean. 3. Fill bucket with colored balls. 4. Play on shore. 5. Repeat.

Child playing on shore with colored ball, taken by Mrs. G:

Beach Boy #beach #flip #momwithcamera #cali #photography #photos #weareparkour #freerunning #flipping #parkour #pier

A post shared by Leslie Godwin (@parkourmom99) on


julie said...

God is the endless nonlocal ocean, we are the materialized local shore.

Funny; any individual is, materially speaking, simply an accretion of molecules that happen to come together in a particular clump for a time. From conception to death (assuming one lives to adulthood), there may well be not a single iota of the self that hasn't been replaced at least once, if not many times over. We are as little sandcastles, built and washed away from one tide to the next.

Gagdad Bob said...

More flipping & tricking from the boy. I taught him everything he knows.

julie said...

Wow - he's in the air almost more than on the ground!

Gagdad Bob said...

It's true: born airborne.

robinstarfish said...

Am I nuts or is the shadow Tristan casts on the ball pretty much a map of the world? As above, indeed...

Gagdad Bob said...

That reminds me: I'm reading this outstanding page-turner of a book on Magellan, called Over the Edge of the World. It describes the world maps of the time as consisting of the three known continents (Europe, Africa, Asia) surrounded by water. The image looks like a T inside an O, and indeed, they are called "T in O maps."

Likewise, the photo shows the shadow of T in O.

robinstarfish said...

I'd say "weird" except it's not.

Anonymous said...

Julie you are quite right about the molecules being very provisional in nature.

An examination of matter shows it to be mostly space time.

An examination of space time shows little bits of it to be popping into, and out of existence, very rapidly.

The Rishis of old thought matter and space time were made out of God consciousness, and was blissed-out.

Their formula was: consciousness (called Sat), leads to being (called Chit), and it feels blissful (called Ananda). The whole ball was called Satchitananda.

You probably knew that. The blog author has written as much. The theory has some holes.

If true, the default setting for the cosmos in general is to be conscious and blissful.

That which is unconscious and unhappy must therefore be an anomaly; a curiosity; an artifice, under this precept.

From a Christian perspective, the theory is problematic. Why populate a planet with people who need salvation, when it would simple to retain all souls in unborn eternal bliss? An analogy would be a Munchausen syndrome mom, who intentionally makes her child ill so she can be "saved" at the hospital, amidst much fanfare.

The story of Adam and Eve, and Man's fall, shows how we became ill, but the back story is whack. God made the serpent and certainly knew full well what the consequences could be. Intentional trouble-making. Setting us up for a fall. Why not just skip the whole serpent and apple thing and just segue to the eternal bliss?

Abdulmonem Othman said...

It seems we have been thrown to the periphery and god asks us to return to the center to him in a new epistemological modality. Schuon warned us from the caprices of the periphery and Rumi reminds us of the intent to return. In the way back we may go astray pursuing different roads like that of Peter or that of Simon. It is how we interpret the images and the symbols. Tree is a problematic symbol with all its crooked branches and leaves. River is a better symbol in its intentional meandering to the sea. One has to be careful with the images and symbols of our world. I am a Simonian, filling my bucket with precious deeds and devotional chants in my playing way to the sea. It is an intentional journey to him to receive either the mandala of grace or the emblazonment of disgrace. It is a serious play. The Koran make a distinction between the spirit of creation which is accessible to all and the spirit of command that of knowledge which is not accessible to all but to those who strife for it, those who know the difference between the real and the nominal,recognizing the limitlessness of the first and the limitedness of the second.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

I like to put here the voice of Rumi soul meandering in the field of the formless,knowing the dark and the light spots of the journey

“It’s not always a blind man
who falls in a pit. Sometimes it’s one who can see,

A holy one does sometimes fall,
but by that tribulation, he or she ascends,
escapes many illusions, escapes
conventional religion, escapes
being so bound to phenomena.

Think of how PHENOMENA come trooping
out of the desert of non-existence
into this materiality….

This place of phenomena is a wide exchange
of highways, with everything going all sorts
of different ways.
We seem to be sitting still,
but we’re actually moving, and the fantasies
of phenomena are sliding through us
like ideas through curtains.
They go to the well
of deep love inside each of us.
They fill their jars there, and they leave.

There is a source they come from,
and a fountain inside here.
Be generous.
Be grateful. Confess when you’re not.

We can’t know
what the divine intelligence
has in mind!

Who am I,
standing in the midst of this
thought-traffic?” enjoy!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the posts, particularly the Rumi verses. Rumi writes, "Be generous, be grateful. Confess when you're not."

Well, I confess. I'm not generous or grateful, a very large percentage of the time.

I remember, as a child of about 7 or 8, entire months elapsed in which I was generous and grateful. I used to give away any money that came to me. I felt joyous and secure. I felt genuine, open, and relaxed. And then one day I coveted a sibling's money and stole it, and then lied to cover it up. Things were never quite the same after that. I went to the Devil

My task as I grow older is to return to my original childhood self, after a long and scary passage through life wherein I become self-protective, guarded, covetous, unsatisfied, and stingy. I have not forgotten my true nature.

My intuition is people are good; left, right, and center. Take away all stressors, and people will default back to basic goodness. Unless they get bored. That's a whole 'nother source of trouble.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Honesty is our guarantor to the divine sea of purity but the default position is not an automatic one but an intentional one that requires a lot of strife and patience. Nothing without price. Thank you Anon.

Chris said...

"The first division is not between God and creation, but rather, within God"

To square this with Christian theism, Schuon makes use of Eastern Orthodoxy's essence-energy distinction and Eckhart's God/Godhead distinction, which implies that it mirrors Shankara's doctrine. The problem with this view is that this puts the personal God of classical theism on the "maya" or "less Real" side of the Asolute/relative divide. I think that this is difficult to sustain. Also, the Divine Principle or " beyond-being" category strikes me as an unnecessary addition (and susceptible to an infinite regress objection) to the Thomistic understanding of God as Being Itself. Now, the theist can fall back on a qualified nondualism, but a panentheism of that sort entails evil or imperfection being part of God- and that won't do. So, pace Schuon, it seems to me that the Christian theist must insist that the fundamental distinction is, in fact, between Creator and created. To take any other position would compromise ( I think) God's simplicity and transcendence. Thoughts?

Gagdad Bob said...

I certainly have no problem with the Orthodox/Eckhartian view.

Gagdad Bob said...

Lots of early fathers say similar things. See for example Roots of Christian Mysticism.

Anonymous said...

A division within the Godhead, and a division between God and creation, perhaps cannot be said to be different, because the Godhead, God, and creation, are fused into one whole. Think of it as an orange

There are numberless ways to divide components or departments of God and talk about the attributes of each, but keep in mind, there can be nothing except God, and nothing outside God. The segments of the orange are all within the peel.

Perforce evil and imperfection are within God, and that is going to have to do, from the vantage point of any theism, including Christianity. it is impossible one of God's creations (i.e, bad people or spirits) to manufacture and introduce a novel quality like evil. How can people or spirits bring in something which is not of God? That would grant them mighty powers of generation, outside the circle of transcendent unity. That would mean a fruit fly has landed on your orange.

If there is a second domain, apart from God, from which evil and imperfection can be introduced as foreign articles, that upsets the apple cart entirely, and you're back to square one: polytheism. And polytheism has been thoroughly and conclusively debunked.

I believe we need to look more closely at boredom. I think there is something profound there. Why are people, when all is good, stable, and secure, not content to just sit still? Is this a quality of the Father as well?

Chris said...


"There can be nothing except God, and nothing outside God"

Christian theism (and all forms of classical theism) insists on the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo which entails the ontological distinction between Creator and created. From this pov, the "one whole" of reality can be affirmed by way of the doctrine of Divine conservation, but that still precludes ontological non-duality.

Also, it seems to me that if evil and imperfection are part of God, then He is neither simple nor metaphysically ultimate (evil being a privation)- in which case he isn't God.

I would say that people are bored to the extent that they are not God centered.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris:

Your answer seems to address the question, but it was couched in language which suggested I would have to do some study to figure it out.

I think I get what you mean: For instance, if a parent raises a child who commits an atrocity, that atrocity is not to be blamed on the parent. So it goes with God and creation?

He made us, and then we invented a privation (evil), which in turn cannot be blamed on God, nor can God extirpate it?

This does make sense. Just as each human being has warring factions within (emotion vs intellect, will vs lethargy, etc), so God maybe is not under complete self mastery as I had theorized. Therefore of course He cannot prevent evil being manifested in his creations.

Although, the potential for evil, as a latent but unexpressed quality, may still exist within God, or its manifestation in his smaller parts would seem distinctly odd.

Chris said...

Hi Anon,

I don't think that we can say that God does not have Self mastery. If that were so, then again, He wouldn't be God. I think classical theists would say that God makes evil possible. But then, I do see a problem that you alluded to: why does humanity fall? The traditional answer would be the free will argument. But, is that a satisfactory answer?

If it isn't, and we are forced into a qualified nondualist position, then we have the problem of saying that God has evil in his Being. And, as I said before, that doesn't work. The only way out of this conundrum, is to embrace some kind of "double truth" view like that of Shankrara, which relegates not only evil evil to the "illusory" realm of the relative, but also all of creation! And that doesnt work for me either.

Chris said...

Sorry for the double evil- must have been a Freudian slip!