For those of you reading along at home, I'm trying to digest an essay by Schuon called Structure and Universality of the Conditions of Existence.
First of all, like anyone could know that. And yet, he pulls it off with such confidence and authority, one can't help thinking he's on -- or in -- to something. I'm often reminded of Blake's gag that Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not be believed. As far as I know, Blake never explained what he meant, but it seems to me that it goes to the intrinsic authority of Truth: if you get it, you got it.
Come to think of it, there are all sorts of things I believe because Truth told me so. Sometimes you hear something, and it is like a key fitting into a lock. It totally settles the question, such that it now becomes part of oneself as opposed to being something sought after. How to put it... It's a little like knowing in the biblical sense, in that it is more intimate than mere logic or sensation.
And now I'm thinking of communion, or theophagy more generally, in which Truth is not merely heard or thought, but devoured and converted to one's own substance (or is it the other way around?). Sounds strange -- a hard saying -- and yet, it is without question an analogue of what we're dealing with. Tasting is believing. And vice versa.
Let's say you want to create a cosmos with conscious beings. What needs to go into it? Lets see: matter, form, and number. Space and time.
Starting with the first, matter is "the sensible manifestation of existence itself." This is a subtle point, because it situates matter equally outside and in, on the plane where it is experienced and in the experience itself. Matter is object-sensation, as it were, not just one or the other.
But nothing is experienced or known without a form, which is its very principle of intelligibly. In other words, to know something is to know a form, precisely.
Conversely, to be ignorant of something is to not know its form. So, material objects don't just present themselves to our senses; rather, we simultaneously know or extract their form. If we can't extract the form, it's annoying, or frustrating, or frightening, or intriguing. Or just nothing -- nothing because it doesn't actually exist, or because you are actually an idiot.
Think of science, which is nothing but the pursuit of form from depth to depth. But then, so too is any discipline, all the way up to theology -- for what is theology but formal intellection of the intelligible form of God?
Or perhaps we should distinguish between theology and (lowercase) theosophy, the former applying to the forms of revelation, the latter more to the nonlocal form of God-as-such, AKA pure intellection: descent and ascent, respectively.
You might say that revelation is a form of the formless. In deep verticality, God is the being-ness of beyond-being. Or, if you prefer, the Son-Logos is the firstform of the Father.
At any rate, forms are like rungs on the ladder of ascent back to form as such. Which is just a way of saying that the intelligibility of the world isn't absurdly ungrounded (an impossibility), but rather, goes all the way up (even if people tend to stop at an arbitrary whystation along the way).
Moving on to the principle of number, it "manifests the unlimitedness of cosmic possibility, and in the final analysis, the infinitude of the Possible as such." All numbers are multiples of one -- and therefore manifestations of oneness -- "and unity in turn reflects the Principle charged with its innumerable potentialities."
This explains why everything is different but the same -- from people to sunsets to baseball games. Everything is a variation on a theme, so to speak. On the one hand, "there is nothing new under the sun"; on the other, each moment is a radical novelty. Orthoparadox. Deal with it.
Back to matter: don't think of it as the material world only. Rather, materiality is a form of matter, of what Aristotle calls "prime matter." Thus, matter has a vertical span "from extreme subtlety to extreme solidity"; in the end, it is the "divine Substance," or "the final point of the descent of the objective pole" of existence. It represents the farther shore of spirit, or perhaps its epidermis. Think of water, which appears in various modes, from ice to steam.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
All of this is situated in space and time, the former going "from the ungraspable point to limitless extension," the latter "from the instant to perpetuity." These are not infinite and eternal as such, but manifestations, or representations, or prolongations of them. For time is still the moving image of eternity, as space is the static image of infinity. And you are there.