Continuing with the forever unfinished isness of the human condition, Clarke writes of
a kind of infinite or inexhaustible depth in our spirit, due to its openness to the Infinite, which cannot be plumbed by our explicit consciousness short of the direct vision of God himself...
Yes, but one can try. I'm reading a newly released collection of Schuon's letters, and an early one from 1928 -- when he was not yet 21! -- describes this effort:
I contemplate the Infinite ceaselessly. During the day it envelops my soul like a deep, distant rhythm coming from the ocean's depths... it is like a gaze of the gods that continuously rests upon me with cool stillness. It will transform me, impure vessel, according to its will. Man needs only to close himself to the finite and open himself to the Infinite in order for it to stream into him.
In other letters from this period of time he writes of feeling a bit lonely, isolated, and alienated. Dude.
In contrast, the Christian yoke is a little easier. For starters, by no means does it close itself to the finite; rather, the whole point, as it were, is to baptize the finite in Infinitude, and voila! We're already there:
Actually, the two focuses of knowledge advance together, in an alternating spiral of reciprocal illumination until the final vision (Clarke).
And "Without me you can do nothing." In other words, try as we might to mount from finitude to infinitude, the last leap is strictly impossible in the absence of Infinitude having taken the leap on our be-half (in order for us to bewhole). Many aphorisms come to mind (nor do I believe the mature Schuon would disagree with any of them):
God is infinitely close and infinitely distant; one should not speak of Him as if He were at some intermediate distance.
There are arguments of increasing validity, but, in short, no argument in any field spares us the final leap.
The man of faith does not escape his prison of paradoxes except by means of a vertical act of faith.
Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities.
Christianity does not deny the splendor of the world but encourages us to seek its origin, to ascend to its pure snow.
Christ was in history like a point on a line. But his redemptive act is to history as the center is to the circumference.
We might say that God and man -- or Infinitude-as-such and the finite-infinitude (so to speak) of man -- are "paradigms of each other" (John Scotus Eriugena) and that "Both are ultimately ineffable, and this both because of their subjectivity and their inexhaustible depth" (Clarke).
Me? I've always suspected that "subjectivity" and "inexhaustible depth" are synonymous terms. After all, objects have no depth -- or height or width or breadth -- unless a subject is there to perceive it. Does this constitute relativism? No, not at all, since knowledge is a conformity of subject to object. Which never ends:
To be a human person is to be on a journey from potential self-possession to actual.
As Clarke describes it, there are two complementary sides to the journey, one which is expressive and extroverted, the other receptive and introverted; there is an "in-itself" and a "toward-others" aspect, which correspond, respectively, to substance and relation:
A person, like every other real being, is a living synthesis of substantiality and relationality, and the relational side is equally important as the substantial side, because it is only through the former that the self as substance can actualize its potentiality and fulfill its destiny.
A destiny that rests in the Infinite Substance some people like to call God. But whatever you call it, there it is. Or here it is, rather. How is it here? Duh: because this infinite substance is substance-in-relation. In this regard, God is just like anyone else, only more so.
I discover positively what and who I am by engaging actively -- and receptively -- in interpersonal relations with other human beings like me who treat me as a "Thou" in an interpersonal social matrix of "I-Thou-We."
Which reminds me of someone... I know -- Eckhart!
For God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive. As God is omnipotent in his deeds, so too is the soul equally profound in its capacity to receive.
And as Bernard McGinn writes,
the very same love with which the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father must be the love by which we love God.
To be continued...