Friday, January 15, 2021

You Are Here: Your Ultimate Map of Reality

It seems to me that because there are "two sides to every story," people often conclude that objective truth is unattainable by man. 

But it actually proves the opposite, because the logic of argument implicitly assumes the object of its search. In other words, no one -- assuming sanity and intellectual honesty -- argues for the existence of "things that are not," much less "things that can never be."

Here at One Cosmos we symbolize the implicit-but-always-present object of this search "O." In our view, one is free to deny the existence of O, but never in a self-consistent way. For on what rational basis can one deny the potential conformity of mind to reality? One is in effect saying: there is no possibility of truth, and that's the truth.

This goes to one of the more subtle "proofs" of (or ways to) God. The problem, of course, is that Proofs for the existence of God abound for those who do not need them (NGD), while no amount of proof is sufficient for the person without a knack for these things, i.e., vision, intuition, gnosis, common sense, pneumacognition, and/or infused contemplation. 

Ultimately -- and this is not a tautology -- The sole proof of the existence of God is His existence (ibid.). 

The reason this isn't a tautology is that proof of God is the experiential realization of his necessity, bearing in mind that this realization has many horizontal and vertical degrees and modalities, e.g., truth, beauty, love, mystical union, vertical recollections, eschatological murmurandoms, and various other Magic Moments of theophanic breakthrough -- for which we use the "empty symbol" (?!).

Even the most spiritually bereft and psychically desiccated atheist has been privileged to experience at least one episode of (?!), and probably more, for Celestial Central radiates and can't help radiating its presents down and out. 

Exactly what is happening during a theophanic breakthrough? In virtue of what principle is the breakthrough both possible and even inevitable if you would only get out of your own way and open yourself to the divine energies?

As it so often happens when (?) meets (!), I've been reading all about it in a book called Transcendence and History: The Search for Ultimacy from Ancient Societies to Postmodernity, by Glenn Hughes (see sidebar below).

No, there's nothing really new in it for the seasoned One Cosmonaut, but it's always gratifying to run into even a single individual who sees the world as we do. I won't say it can get lonely inhere, because with God one is never allone. Also, Hughes comes at it with a very different sensibility -- i.e., scholarly sobriety as opposed to loosey-nousey divine comedy and metaphysical mischief. 

Let's first jump to conclusions and lay out the under- and overall vision with a sample passage:

First of all, the timeless ground is real. The structure of reality includes the transcendent ground of meaning [O], which we experience through participation. It is a "flow of presence" in all human consciousness, whether we attend to it or not, and however sophisticated or unsophisticated our imaginative or conceptual portrayals of it. 

So, the irreducible structure of reality is an experiential and participatory flow of presence, in case you haven't gnosissed. How to symbolize this flow in the most abstract and universal way possible? Easy for me to say: O --> (k) and O --> (¶), the first more epistemological, the second more ontological.

Or better, these should be visualized as vertical relations, and with the arrows going both ways; oh, and in such a manner that the flow of presence is a spiraling movement toward increased depth and richness, sponsored at every step of the journey by the always complete but unattainable (by man, in this life) O.

Like the following: read s-l-o-w-l-y and see that the divine presence 

is understood precisely as the nonfinite condition for the existence and good of every finite thing. Every place becomes the place of the intersection of the timeless with time. And human being is where that intersection comes to self-recognition and self-realization, where the flow of eternal divine presence orients temporal existence, through human consciousness, toward timeless meaning and truth.

Orients. Where are we? I mean ultimately? Correct: we are "in" reality. What is the nature of this place we call reality? Correct again: it is at the crossroads of vertical and horizontal energies:

Human beings, then, always "remain in the 'in between,' in a temporal flow of experience in which eternity is nevertheless present.... at every point of the flow there persists the tension toward eternal being transcending time [O]." 

What is our ultimate "point of reference?" Is it O? Yes and no. Although Hughes doesn't express it this way, my view is that in a trinitarian cosmos -- or a cosmos everywhere stamped with the imprimatur of the Trinity -- the point of reference is more properly understood as (↑↓), not so much a "place" as a relation, or a "place of relation. Why so?

So as to avoid the twin errors of a radical transcendence or immanence. The former error persists in Buddhism and Vedanta, while the latter error is at the heart of scientism, Marxism, and any manmade ideology more generally.

I guess we'll leave off with this passage, because we agree with every word of it: 

History is not simply the unfolding of time; it is the intersection of the timeless with time. Historical progress, consequently, is not simply movement forward on a time line. It is, most essentially, success in attuning social and personal life to the truths of timeless meaning, a success that waxes and wanes...

And with our self-styled progressives in charge, we are of course seeing this progress wane before our very eyes. It's wane's world now. We just live in it. Oh well. What cannot continue will not continue. And in reality the waxing is always already underway, if you know where to lOOk. 


Anonymous said...

You had me at “hello”, then lost me at:

“And with our self-styled progressives in charge, we are of course seeing this progress wane before our very eyes. It's wane's world now.”

America was at its greatest during the most “progressives in charge” age in it’s history.

More innovation, more world leadership, more asskicking of evil like those marines on Okinawa and Normandy did. As an added bonus, the place was crawling with good and decent community-minded Christians and their community-minded churches. America seemed like more of a can-do nation back in its more progressive age, doing everything best, brightest and firstest in the whole world.

So it always seems to me that you’re projecting. Things seemed to turn sour in America when our Overton window turned modern conservative (not the Goldwater kind) and then “liberalism” coalesced into an opposing power center full of perversion and weakness, against modern conservatism, itself full of confusion and angst.

Cousin Dupree said...

Yes, those progressive marines on Okinawa and Normandy gave their lives for homosexual marriage, gender confusion, and technostate suppression of speech.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the WWII marines videos, the ones where the now-geriatric survivors tell us what happened from their own point of view. The American ones say they were told that they were defending the Constitution, but were really just fighting for each other. The Japanese ones say they were told they were fighting for the Emperor, but were robotized by centuries of cultural brainwashing. The German ones claimed a little of both.

I suspect that had Dupree been there, he would've been fighting to give his life to prevent homosexual marriage, gender confusion, and technostate suppression of speech.

We all have our motivations, I guess.

Nicolás said...

The event without an intelligent narrator dies in frustrated virtuality.

Van Harvey said...

Posted by a friend, and forwarded on for the amusement of the Raccoonosphere:

"Shout out to the raccoon who got in my trash last night and left the Wendy's wrapper in the driveway that I was hiding from my wife because we are "eating healthy this week"... you're a dick."

julie said...

There's a reason people call them "trash pandas"

Gordon D. Lonsdale said...

The view that Buddhism subscribes to the ‘error of radical transcendence’ is incorrect. In its more developed Mahayana form, it also has an explicit and profound doctrine of immanence which is more rigorously consistent in its implications than what we find in theism. I’m all for constructive criticism of other faiths but it needs to be properly informed rather than attacking a straw man.

Gagdad Bob said...

We weren't attacking a straw man, rather, condensing the bottom line from decades of study. We would be delighted to hear the details of the specific doctrine of which you speak, or perhaps you could provide a link. We already know about Mahayana, but we are curious about the "more developed" kind to which you allude.

Gagdad Bob said...

For example, it is said that Mahayana puts forth "the idea that all phenomena without exception have 'no essential unchanging core,' and therefore have 'no fundamentally real existence.'" We are not on board with this due to a number of theistic metaphysical doctrines from creation to incarnation to theosis that sanctify and elevate immanence. But our minds are open.

Gagdad Bob said...

Not the Babylon Bee: Arson shakes a Church of Satan community.

The jokes write themselves.

Gordon D. Lonsdale said...

Thanks Bob. I’ll pull together some passages for you from later Mahayana sources that explicitly reject the notion that there is no ‘essential unchanging core’ at the heart of things. Unfortunately, Buddhist scholarship in the West is largely vitiated by nihilistic post-modern Marxists who ignore the positive ‘cataphatic’ dimension of this tradition which, I think you’ll find, resonates much more with the ‘One Cosmos’ perspective. Best wishes from New Zealand.

Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you kindly. I'm always looking for the Universal of universals.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon.

I have a Buddhism question. Can you please offer an opinion on the advisability of following the Bodhisattva element of the Mahayana path?

I'm contemplating going in this direction but worry the demands of the needed meditation will weigh heavy; I'm not sure I'm ready.

Do you follow the Bodhisattva path and if so, if it difficult to perform?

Anonymous said...

Hello Gordon. Should I call you Mr. Lonsdale?

I forgot to ask also about the older Theraveda Buddhist tradition. Is there anything to recommend this path, or elements which can perhaps be adopted?

How's New Zealand? I've mostly heard good things.

Petey said...

Worrying about the Bodhisattva doctrine is like basing a decision to exercise on whether or not it will result in becoming an Olympic athlete.

Gordon D. Lonsdale said...

Not all schools of Buddhism make meditation or bodhisattva practices central to their paths. I certainly don’t. These presuppose spiritual abilities that are beyond the range of what most ordinary people are capable today in this ‘Decadent Age of the Dharma’ during which humanity finds itself in a largely ‘fallen’ state. In this respect, I completely agree with Petey. Despite not being very well known, there is a tradition based on grace, surrender, ‘other power’ and the dynamic working of an absolute reality that both transcends this fleeting world while remaining immanent in the heart of all things as an abiding and illuminating presence in this life. D. T. Suzuki described it as follows: “The highest reality is not a mere abstraction; it is very much alive with sense and intelligence and, above all, with love purged of human infirmities and defilements.” I appreciate that this goes against the grain of what many people expect to find in Buddhism but it forms the basis of the largest school in Japan today (Jodo Shinshu) which is, arguably, the logical consummation of the Mahayana. Unless you are prepared to make an arduous commitment to a monastic path that is radically ascetic and self-denying, you are not likely to benefit much from the older Theravadin tradition which, in any case, I find doctrinally incomplete and defective in many ways. This is probably not what you wanted to hear but you need to be aware of other perspectives in Buddhism that come closer to what Bob so ably expounds on this site. If you’re preference is for more muscular ‘self-power’ practices then go for it but, for ordinary people with a deep spiritual hunger and a longing for spiritual emancipation, there is a better and more accessible way that takes into account the sober realities of our broken human condition and the unconditional embrace of Divine compassion. PS: New Zealand is lovely but a very long way away from anywhere else, except perhaps Australia and Antarctica :) PPS: Bob - I may have to send those passages to you via email as they extend to many pages.

Gagdad Bob said...

Schuon's Treasures of Buddhism is very good. Example: "Judaism and Islam accentuate transcendence, whereas Christianity is founded upon theophany; Buddhism takes its point of departure in the mystery of immanence." Nevertheless, Buddhism "combines its initial immanentism" with the theophanism of both the Buddha and the attainment of Buddha-nature. In any legitimate path there are always the up and down arrows of immanence and transcendence, effort and grace, exteriorization and interiorization, truth and presence, etc. It comes down the the fact that both God and man are one. It's the "in-between" that changes and becomes more subtle and differentiated.

Anonymous said...

I don’t get the impression that Buddhists are much into power, control, and violent insurrection against “enemies”. They seem a more balanced lot, as in “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

Xi Jinping said...

Exactly. That's how we conquered China so easily.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon.

Thank you for your responses to my questions about the Boddhisattva practice and the Theravadin practice.

Given what you have said I think I will focus my Buddhist practice on one which would the fit the sensibilities of the age.

You wrote: "ordinary people with a deep spiritual hunger and a longing for spiritual emancipation, there is a better and more accessible way that takes into account the sober
realities of our broken human condition and the unconditional embrace of Divine compassion."

I would very much like to learn more of this better and more accessible way. Are you referring to the Jodo Shinsu doctrine which you mentioned?

And in relation to the passages for Dr. Godwin requiring many pages, I suggest you post those here as comments in a serial manner (i.e, one long paragraph weekly) so all readers can also share?

New Zealand may give island fever I suppose, no matter how large and beautiful she is. Perhaps after COVID subsides you would consider a trip to SW North America and enjoy the bustling cities and austere deserts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, if I might ask an additional question.

There seems to be many, many opinions as to what transfers from one life to the next in the chain on lives which the person lives.

It is agreed broadly that Karma is transferred without fail.

I am curious as to why there is no consistent memory transfer from one life to the next in the chain of lives.

There must be some erasing of what could amount to temporary data storage in the mind?

I am stumped by why or how this occurs.

I note that this erasure causes many religious doctrines to be completely unaware of metempsychosis and assume the afterlife exists elsewhere and not on Earth.

What are your thoughts on the how and why nuts-and-bolts of metempsychosis?

Gordon D. Lonsdale said...

Thank you for your further questions. Out of courtesy to Bob, I am loath to take up too much space on his blog, especially regarding matters that may not have a direct bearing on his primary interests. Accordingly, I am happy to address your queries directly offsite where I can respond at greater length and provide you with further reading material if required. My address is:

Anonymous said...

Hello Gordon:

I agree with your response to my questions, as they do not have a direct bearing on Bob's primary interests or those of his readers and would be inappropriate to air here.

Accordingly I will email queries directly to the email provided as needed.

Thank you, and I appreciate your willingness to provide guidance!

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Dr. Godwin and company:

This was a splendid post, one of the better ones. I agree broadly with what was presented therein, which we could summarize as "the proof of God is evidenced by the presence of God" as facilitated by your parsing of the work by Hughes. Well done.

There was one passage which calls for clarification. Perhaps others understood but it whizzed by me - "So as to avoid the twin errors of a radical transcendence or immanence. The former error persists in Buddhism and Vedanta."

Is there a problem with radical transcendence? I could see objections to radical immanence, but I understood transcendence to be an all-out effort which when done properly would be quite "radical" indeed?

Any further elucidation of this matter would be greatly appreciated; thank you in advance.

Gagdad Bob said...

Transcendence and immanence are like north and south. We're always between these two points of reference.