Which isn't exactly what I said, but details can get lost in the heat of the moment.
Of course -- contrary to the imputation of fundamentalism -- the language of religion is often conveyed via symbolic points of reference; by way of analogy, this is similar to the relationship between a two-dimensional painting and a three-dimensional landscape. The painting is a transformation of the landscape made possible by various constants that are preserved and transmitted to the viewer.
In the absence of the Absolute no genuine knowledge of any kind is possible, since all knowledge partakes of absoluteness insofar as it is true. We might go so far as to say that any "proven fact" is like a fragment of God: a luminous clue coming into view.
So human beings have an implicit grasp of the Absolute, regardless of whether they choose to deny it. To the extent that we think at all, we are engaging it, either in a from-->to or to-->from direction (i.e., inductive or deductive, respectively, leaving aside direct vision or intuition for the moment).
One of our favorite little books is Schuon's Echoes of Perennial Wisdom, which reduces his thought to bite-sized aphorisms. Here's the first one:
The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute.
Boom. Please don't misunderstand him and say to yourself, "I'm not aware of this Absolute of which he speaks. Is he saying I'm worthless?"
No, the opposite: you are a human being and therefore conscious of the Absolute, whether implicitly or explicitly. You may not think well, but you can't even think badly in the absence of this ground.
With this in mind, we see that dysfunctional thinking is obviously a privation -- just as, say, blindness isn't just another type of sight. In order to repair and restore our thinking... well, we'll get into that later. But this is certainly one of the purposes of religion: to helps us to think properly and fruitfully about ultimate things -- the Permanent Real -- and to adjust our behavior accordingly.
Man is made for what he is able to conceive; the very ideas of absoluteness and transcendence prove both his spiritual nature and the supra-terrestrial character of his destiny.
One can see the necessity of this metaphysical truth directly via intellection, as we are now doing; one can also see it via the grace of faith, which provides man with a way to know truths he cannot or does not grasp on his own; or one can grasp it implicitly, say, by disagreeing with it. For on what basis do you disagree? Keep thinking, and don't stop. You'll get there.
Jumping down to the fifth aphorism,
Our deiformity implies that our spirit is made of absoluteness, our will of freedom, and our soul of generosity...
"Deiformity" is one way of putting it. America, for example, is explicitly founded upon this self-evident principle: that man is created by God, which has a number or immediate implications, in particular, natural law and natural rights.
Although these two -- law and right, truth and freedom/will -- are horizontally complementary, the former nevertheless takes precedence, for who -- besides the left -- would want to give absolute rights to an intrinsically irresponsible being? Rather, we are given rights because we are first responsible, i.e., capable of knowing the Law and feeling guilty when we transgress it.
Of course, our fallen nature shuffles the cards, clouds the intellect, disorients the will, and generally disrupts our intimacy with the Absolute. We'll no doubt return to this subject later, but again bear in mind that our fallenness is a privation. Thank God we can know of the privation, for if we can't, then... well, ideology is just one of nasty developments that follow the denial of this reality.
One more passage from Schuon before we jump back to Voegelin:
One of the keys to understanding our true nature and our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world are never proportionate to the actual range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing. The Absolute alone confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish and to be wholly what it is.
Wait -- let me fact check that....
Yup. I have consulted both the cosmos and my own head, and I rate this fact absolutely true: I AM contains the cosmos, not vice versa; and we can either know truth or we can't, and our vertical adventure in consciousness never ends. Nor can the cosmos be just a little bit pregnant with meaning.
In his Gnosis: Divine Wisdom, Schuon has a whole essay devoted to The Sense of the Absolute in Religions. It is highly raccommended, but I think we'll move on, because we've discussed it all before ad gnoseam.
If I hadn't first read and assimilated Schuon, I don't know what I'd have been able to make sense of Voegelin's claim (mentioned in yesterday's post) to the effect that "Christianity is not an alternative to philosophy, it is philosophy itself in its state of perfection."
Another one of our favorite books is The Roots of Christian Mysticism by Olivier Clement. If we're not careful, this post will end up excerpting it until the clock runs out. Oh well. Can't be helped. The Spirit bellows where it will.
Christianity is in the first place an Oriental religion, and it is a mystical religion.... When we see the shallow syncretism, the sentimental fascination with anything Eastern, and the bogus "gurus" crowding round for the pickings, it is easy to sneer. Whose fault is it that so many have had to resort to Tao or Zen in order to rediscover truths which were actually part of the Christian heritage right from the beginning?
So, don't blame the pneumopathic Chopras of the world for Deepaking the pockets of the ignorant rubes. I myself was once one of them. I suppose every new age nitwit is hoping that he too can learn the Secret -- the secret of charging the rubes $100 a month to be a resident of nirvana. The Brooklyn Bridge? That's $200 a month.
Remember: A Raccoon will never ask for money, because where they get it, it doesn't cost a thing.
This is beyond the satirical powers of the Babylon Bee:
The Integral community includes tens and even hundreds of thousands of people all across the globe —- but, due to something we might call “developmental privilege”, remains predominately white.
We white folks can't help it how enlightened we are! Don't hate us because we're more brilliant and virtuous than negroes!
Back to Clement. Recall what was said yesterday about how "the gospel appeared to offer the answer to the philosopher's search for truth." Clement agrees that for early Christian thinkers, "The whole of life, the whole universe was interpreted in the light of Christ's death and resurrection."
"Our higher faculties reflect divine qualities" and arouse "within us an attraction towards what transcends us, a 'desire for eternity'":
Thereby we become greater than the universe into which we were born and which seeks to take possession of us. Thereby we assert our basic freedom. Ultimately, then, being in the image of God signifies personality, freedom.
Wait. Better fact-check that one too.
100% true, at least for those with eyes wide open. Of course, for "someone who chooses to hide his eyes by lowering his eyelids, the sun is not responsible for the fact that he cannot see it" (Gregory of Nyssa).
Again, ignorance of the Absolute is a privation. If not, then absolute ignorance is the standard, and our trolls -- not to mention the new age integralists, the most virtuous and evolved white people ever -- are the best and brightest the cosmos has to offer. And that's a fact.