Nondual caveats

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Nondual caveats

  1. 1. Shalom Place Community Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail? This topic can be found at: http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/15110765/m/614408711 8 18 December 2011, 04:17 PM johnboy.philothea Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail? quote: Originally posted by Phil: Finally, there is another approach you did not mention: subject-to-object. E.g., I have a relationship with many objects, like my iMac, which I dearly love. Smiler But it is obviously just an object and cannot enter into an intersubjective relationship with me. I do feel connection with it, however, as I do the birds that come to my feeder, the sky, trees, etc. This is not the kind of intrapersonal resonance with reality you mentioned above. My Ego is still quite intact, and yet there I am reaching out with my consciousness to apprehend and appreciate other "objects." See what I mean? What would this be called. Inter-sub/objectivity? If you look at my graphic, you'll see that the intraobjective, intra-subjective and inter-subjective are aspects of phenomenology. For the most part, when humans "accomplish" subject-object cleavage, that's the very essence of epistemology and is primarily how we go about problem-solving : describing, evaluating, norming and interpreting reality. This subject-object cleavage is the hallmark of dualistic thinking and where it gets its name as we divide the whole and distinguish its parts. Our dualistic approach is MERE problem-solving and our nondual approach is problem-solving PLUS . The nondual sleight of hand, here, whether we are talking anthropology, phenomenology, axiology, epistemology or theology, involves our use of a mediating thirdness. In this sense, our nondual tripartite anthropology , triadic phenomenology, trialectical axiology, trialogical epistemology and trinitarian theology do all represent a higher value realization across the board, existentially, as, in each case, we go beyond but not without or transcend but include. Unfortunately, this is not what many nondual teachers advocate. Their mistake is rather straightforward: even though they may say they are transrational, what they are doing is (ironically, dualistically) according the nondual both an axiological primacy and an axiological autonomy, which, as I see it, makes their approach arational . What we are saying, rather, is that, while the nondual does, indeed, enjoy an axiological primacy (being the most valuable moment in our various hermeneutical cycles, epistemically), it is also 1
  2. 2. axiologically integral (does not realize its value apart from the other approaches, being autonomous only in a methodological sense). That's straightforward but not simple. Put another way, the nondual moment is a necessary but not sufficient element of our nondual approach. Unless properly integrated with our problem-solving, dualistic approach, our distinctly human values will not be realized. The nondual moment is but one note in our nondual epistemic symphony. (Cf. Phil's discussion above re: Lonergan) 18 December 2011, 04:22 PM johnboy.philothea re: the intra-subjective integrity I equate that with Lonergan's conversions as expanded by Don Gelpi: intellectual, affective, moral, socio-political and religious. Think, here, of Fowler's faith development, Kohlberg's moral development, Erikson's personality development, Maslow's hierarchy and other stage and development theories. Think classical formative spirituality: purgative, illuminative and unitive paths. Keep in mind that I am not setting forth a systematic approach only a heuristic account, providing some conceptual placeholders, disambiguating some terms, mapping some concepts, categorizing reality, introducing some alternative language, stimulating some conversations, hopefully. 18 December 2011, 04:50 PM pop-pop Per Johnboy, a few posts back: “What is more so at stake, rather, is our possible realization of superabundance , which is to suggest that the onus is on various religious practitioners to demonstrate that they can journey toward transformation (human authenticity) much more swiftly and with much less hindrance precisely because of their formative spiritualities.” Statements like that typically send me into desolation; which then, for me anyway, once again required a saddling up and some time on the Ponderosa – and it was cold out there. I hates that desolation stuff, let me tell you – even more than the cold. It was the onus that created the onus. Kind of like the proverbial ‘putting a burr under my saddle’ (though I hadn’t even saddled up). So I’m loping along and asking myself: Is the journey toward transformation (human authenticity) really the highest goal? Or is the journey toward union with God? Is the journey – like the US Army advertises – being all that one can be? Is the journey about me realizing me in all my fullness? Or is God somehow in play? Is not the goal being with God, being in God, with His sap in me, my obedience in Him? Perhaps we can be there (in God) more swiftly and with less 2
  3. 3. hindrance than our realization of transformation and human authenticity. Perhaps we can be there by our mere desiring – even before the realizing of the fullness of our human transformation, even whilst realizing quite deeply the reality of our profound dysfunction and our inability to eliminate it. Perhaps many, nay most, of our forbears had never realized full human authenticity and human liberation, yet were by their obedient surrender and grafting into and remaining in the vine growing heavenward powered by a supernatural kind of sap…. somehow …already there (at the goal, truly) -- despite not at the highest level of human psychological growth as psychologists would term is the goal. Perhaps our forbears and indeed even we ourselves can be ‘there’ kind of by a miraculous grace, one might viably say. Hey, perhaps that’s -- the GOOD NEWS. Perhaps it’s that serpent again: saying, “Did God really say that?” (Is being in, and remaining in the vine is what glorifies the Father?) Does John 15 speak about human authenticity per se? “He who brings himself to naught for Me discovers who he is” Jesus said. Perhaps many martyrs even had not advanced all that far along on their journey toward transformation (in terms of human authenticity) and yet were quite far along in the journey that pleases God. Certainly, as the saint says: “The glory of God is man fully alive”. I believe that with all my heart. But I hate onus and its attendant accusatory and sulphurous fragrance -- despite being somewhat of a feist myself (as the Old English and their epistemological groupies might say). I like much of what Johnboy has posted, but I react to onus stuff. A Christian need not have to ‘demonstrate’ anything to anyone -- swiftness or otherwise. ‘Remain in Me’, the Lord says. That works for Him…...that should work for us. Pop-pop 18 December 2011, 06:34 PM johnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by pop-pop: Per Johnboy, a few posts back: “What is more so at stake, rather, is our possible realization of superabundance , which is to suggest that the onus is on various religious practitioners to demonstrate that they can journey toward transformation (human authenticity) much more swiftly and with much less hindrance precisely because of their formative spiritualities.” 3
  4. 4. Statements like that typically send me into desolation; which then, for me anyway, once again required a saddling up and some time on the Ponderosa – and it was cold out there. I hates that desolation stuff, let me tell you – even more than the cold. It was the onus that created the onus. Kind of like the proverbial ‘putting a burr under my saddle’ (though I hadn’t even saddled up). Listen, I can hear Willie Nelson: ♫♪ Why do I have to choose? See everybody lose! Walk 'round and sing the blues? Well, darlin', I refuse! ♬ quote: Originally posted by pop-pop: So I’m loping along and asking myself: Is the journey toward transformation (human authenticity) really the highest goal? Or is the journey toward union with God? Is the journey – like the US Army advertises – being all that one can be? Is the journey about me realizing me in all my fullness? Or is God somehow in play? Is not the goal being with God, being in God, with His sap in me, my obedience in Him? For those of us who imagine that humanization IS divinization, we're talking 'bout one and the same cattle drive! quote: Originally posted by pop-pop: Perhaps our forbears and indeed even we ourselves can be ‘there’ kind of by a miraculous grace, one might viably say. Hey, perhaps that’s -the GOOD NEWS. Indeed, the journey up Mt. Carmel is an Assumption and not an Ascension! quote: Originally posted by pop-pop: I like much of what Johnboy has posted, but I react to onus stuff. A Christian need not have to ‘demonstrate’ anything to anyone -- swiftness or otherwise. For all practical purposes, I am a universalist for whom any onus would be moronic (of the oxy- variety)! Yet, the question remains begging - n'est pas? - as to what in the world I was saying, then! 4
  5. 5. Because churches institutionalize Lonergan's conversions (human authenticity), we might, in theory, try to gauge how successful they are in that regard because that might help us adjudicate between some of the competing claims of different traditions. The way the theological guild says this is that orthopraxis authenticates orthodoxy. So, that's a suggested ecclesiological norm for fallibly discerning the fruits of the Spirit (or lack thereof) from one believing community to the next and not, rather, an obligation of any given believer. At the same time, to the extent one aspires to engage in apologetics of any sort, proselytizing others, one's implicit demonstration of ongoing conversion might emerge as a selfimposed onus? And this is why I also wrote, though you may not have gotten that far in the thread yet: quote: Originally posted by johnboy: We certainly need a modicum of intra-subjective integrity vis a vis human authenticity to enjoy beatitude but, in the end, how much we grow or how holy we get is very much God's affair . Beyond that, in my view, both now and forever, the experience of the inter-subjective , both vis a vis our primary beatitude of being happy with God and our secondary beatitude of being happy with our fellow creatures, is our highest good and to be most highly valued. Our experience of unitary being vis a vis a realization of our intra-objective identity will certainly round out and enhance our other experiences integrally and holistically and can even protect us from certain errors (overly dialectical imagination, deism, rationalism, pietism, etc). So, neither Lonerganian conversions/human authenticity (intrasubjective integrity) nor Enlightenment (intra-objective identity) are our summum bonum or highest good, which is the unitive life (inter-subjective intimacy), a free gift. That we may move in superabundance, more swiftly and with less hindrance, or even grow in authenticity or even experience Enlightenment is no necessary spiritual aspiration (cf. Litany of Humility - That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should… ), in and of itself, but instead might entail, among other aspirations, a surrender to divine providence, a cooperation with the holy Spirit, out of compassion for those who may otherwise have to suffer our unconverted, unenlightened selves (as Teresa suggested: Let us desire and occupy ourselves in prayer - not so much for the consolations we may receive, but - to gain the strength to serve. - or something like that, which was my paraphrase of her sentiment that The water is for the flowers. ) Meanwhile, ♫♪ the shadows sway and seem to say tonight we pray for water, cool water. And way up there He'll hear our prayer and show us where there's water, cool water. ♬ 5
  6. 6. Thanks for the spirited engagement, pop-pop. pax, jb This message has been edited. Last edited by: johnboy.philothea, 19 December 2011 12:40 PM 19 December 2011, 12:52 AM johnboy.philothea More on Lonergan's Conversions The authenticity is reached by conversion which in turn is reached by self-transcendence in an ongoing process. As mentioned previously, one is responding (transcending self) to having first been loved (divinely). So, this religious conversion is a two-step dance. Having been loved unqualifiedly, I start loving, more and more through time, in the same way. Thus gifted, I begin to gift others in return by cooperating with that gifting, which is nothing less than the activity (mission) of the Holy Spirit. The more we cooperate with that gift which was given freely, apart from anything we have ever known (or been educated to) or ever done (whether an ascetical practice or moral deed), the stronger our own unqualified loving and the more evident our cooperation with the Holy Spirit vis a vis beatitudes (Matthew 5), corporal works of mercy (Matthew 25), spiritual works of mercy (throughout the 4 Gospels), charismatic gifts for community (Romans 12 & 1 Corinthians 12), gifts of the Spirit for personal sanctification (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, reverence, wonder & awe), fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control -Galatians 5), theological virtues (faith, hope & love - 1 Corinthians 13) and cardinal virtues (justice, prudence, fortitude & temperance). To the extent, then, that conversion has been successfully institutionalized (not only via an explicitly Christian anthropology, theology, pneumatology, ecclesiology, sacramentology, soteriology & eschatology but anywhere, in anyone and in whatever manner) in a community or realized in individuals, of course to varying degrees, all of this gifting will manifest (the greatest of such gifting being love, which is patient, kind, neither envious nor boastful nor selfseeking nor easily angered but rejoicing always with the truth, always protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering). And all of this gifting will foster ongoing intellectual, affective, moral, socio-political and religious conversions via what Gelpi called grace as transmuted experience. From this less than causal observer, these processes are rather, in a word, messy! These conversions don't present symmetrically, which is to recognize that growth in one area will not necessarily indicate growth in other areas but, at 6
  7. 7. the same time, will generally tend to foster and mutually support growth in other areas of one's spiritual life. Charismatic gifts tend to be spread among different members of a community, not all being gifted to one person and so on. May the Spirit abide with you in great shalom! jb 19 December 2011, 01:36 PM Brad Congratulations on your new site, Phil. Make that a “non-dual” congrats. And you should know that Johnboy is a superb publicist. I don't know if this thread is a part of that, but just wanted to make mention. 19 December 2011, 02:40 PM Phil Hi Brad. Yes, the forums in this category are now an extension, of sorts, of philothea.net. JB has a subdomain worth checking out. I hope you will drop in here and on the blog to gift us with your insights. 19 December 2011, 02:56 PM Phil quote: We certainly need a modicum of intra-subjective integrity vis a vis human authenticity to enjoy beatitude but, in the end, how much we grow or how holy we get is very much God's affair . Beyond that, in my view, both now and forever, the experience of the inter-subjective , both vis a vis our primary beatitude of being happy with God and our secondary beatitude of being happy with our fellow creatures, is our highest good and to be most highly valued. Our experience of unitary being vis a vis a realization of our intra-objective identity will certainly round out and enhance our other experiences integrally and holistically and can even protect us from certain errors (overly dialectical imagination, deism, rationalism, pietism, etc). JB, that was certainly worth repeating, and I completely agree. I would add that intra-subjective integrity seems to go hand-in-hand with intersubjective spirituality/mysticism -that you can't really have one without the other. So many times it seems that intra-subjective work enables a deeper relationship with God, and vice versa. Re. the intra-objective, I still have mixed feelings. It might, as you noted, help to guard against certain errors, but it also opens the door to others, especially if it is emphasized too strongly. We've already noted the possibility of a certain anti-intellectualism and the discouragement of (dualistic) intersubjective spirituality. It can even bring psychological damage if the Ego is denigrated, and it can surely negate the value of kataphatic approaches as means for a real encounter with God. So while the isms you mention above along with others like moralism and dogmatism have been and still are a problem in "the West" with its strong inter7
  8. 8. subjective emphases, there is likewise a shadow side to approaches that are overly intra-objective (e.g., quietism, premature kundalini arousal/awakening, psychological imbalances, disaffectivity, radical apophaticism). Indeed, there's little about intra-objective spirituality that seems naturally suited to the ordinary functioning of our consciousness, and I wonder if it's not a seeking after an experience that is not good for us. It's certainly difficult to earnestly pursue this kind of spirituality alongside the other approaches you mention, as it seems to have the effect of undercutting them in some ways. 19 December 2011, 08:27 PM johnboy.philothea What we have going on in that diagram with the supercategories of people, relationships, values, methods and hermeneutics is what I would like to call an axiological spiral , which is analogous to the notion of a hermeneutical spiral , such as we have within the category of methods where the normative mediates between the descriptive and interpretive to effect the evaluative. Or, one might say that the philosophic mediates between the positivist and the theistic to effect the theotic (thinking here of Helminiak's approach to Lonergan). There are different versions of a hermeneutical spiral that are at work in Biblical exegesis vis a vis the senses of Scripture. One could look at Pope Benedict's analysis of the tension between a Thomist knowledge and a Scotist praxis and say, with Bonaventure, that Wisdom mediates between knowledge and practice to effect Love. We could say that, often, not always, orthopathy or cult mediates between orthodoxy or creed and orthopraxy or code to effect orthocommunio or community The examples are endless, really. In our axiological spiral , methods mediate between persons and hermeneutics to realize values in relationships. There are creative tensions that exist in each moment of these valuerealization movements. To use a music analogy, we might say that each moment (methods, persons, hermeneutics, values & relationships) is a different note on the scale forming part of a symphonic axiological movement. Some are high notes; others are low notes. Some are quarter notes; others are half notes. Some increase in loud crescendo while others contribute in soft pianissimo. Now, this axiological spiral is in play for the value-realizations that are to be derived in each type of relationship during this symphony, each contributing integrally to the whole, all necessary and none, alone, sufficient. None of this is to suggest, however, that the prescribed amount of emphasis required in order to avoid either an over- or under-emphasis will necessarily and a priori be the same for each moment! To achieve harmonic balance and symphonic excellence, we manifestly would not make every note a quarter note! To change metaphors, when we suggest that each ingredient in a given recipe is indispensable, we are not at all suggesting they be stirred 8
  9. 9. into the pot in equal amounts! Sometimes, it's a cup of this, a pinch of that or a dash of the other. So, when we inventory all of the insidious ISM's - pietism, encratism, quietism, radical apophaticism, rationalism, arationalism, irrationalism, fideism, ritualism, legalism, dogmatism and so on, we are not suggesting that they result from such a lack of balance as would derive from not giving every moment in a hermeneutical or axiological spiral movement equal emphasis, equal time, equal say. Or to provide every ingredient in equal amounts. I won't flesh out this metaphor but will leave it as an imaginative tool for anyone who wants to employ it. quote: Originally posted by Phil: I would add that intrasubjective integrity seems to go hand-in-hand with intersubjective spirituality/mysticism -- that you can't really have one without the other. So many times it seems that intra-subjective work enables a deeper relationship with God, and vice versa. That was my implication with the understanding that hand-inhand needs to be nuanced along the lines of what I discussed above and in the context that was well-presented by pop-pop. There are astounding asymmetries and exceptionalities that present courtesy of what appears to us to often be a holy but unruly Spirit! reminding us of Who is sovereign. Still, normatively, that does seem to be the general rule and we do have to rely on ordinary patterns of behavior as fallibly truth-indicative in our communal discernment processes. quote: Originally posted by Phil: Re. the intra-objective, I still have mixed feelings. It might, as you noted, help to guard against certain errors, but it also opens the door to others, especially if it is emphasized too strongly. That is the general point regarding various over- and underemphases of ANY moment. An over-emphasis on 1) the interobjective results in a radical apophaticism 2) intrasubjective - a narcissistic navel-gazing 3) subject-object cleavage - scientism and positivism 4) intra-objective philosophical naturalism and quietism 5) inter-subjective pietism and fideism. Of course, these are broad overgeneralizations and rather facile characterizations of some otherwise complex psycho-spiritual dynamics. The radical apophaticism of a radically intra-objective overemphasis actually results from its ineffable encounter of the indeterminate ground of being, unequipped as it is with its lack of (or impoverished) analogical imagination, which requires a robust engagement of our dualistic problem-solving 9
  10. 10. mind. One very profitable engagement of our putative intra-objective reality in humankind's history has been that of science's methodological naturalism, which is epistemically dualistic but ontologically monistic (for argument's sake). This devolves into scientism and positivism, however, whenever an intra-objective approach gets over-emphasized vis a vis a philosophical naturalism, which is ontologically monistic ( a priori and ideologically) . Another profitable engagement of intra-objective reality has been that of those Eastern tradition schools that nurture both dialectical and analogical imaginations and therefore embrace prominent devotional elements (with ipso facto intersubjective aspects, for all practical purposes). The intra-objective identity experience of some type of underlying oneness may, in part and in various ways, play some role, too, in what Maritain as per Arraj discussed in such phenomenal experiences as could be associated with philosophical contemplation (thru concepts) and the intuition of being, natural mysticism (w/o concepts) or mysticism of the self, metaphysical insight (such as via Zen), all distinct from mystical contemplation in that the latter is illuminated, theological, personal and kataphatic while the former is unilluminated, existential, impersonal and apophatic. In our theologies of nature, the insights of intraobjectivity and intersubjectivity have been blended creatively and poetically into various panentheisms (my own is called pansemio-entheism to emphasize my semiotic perspective). quote: Originally posted by Phil: Indeed, there's little about intra-objective spirituality that seems naturally suited to the ordinary functioning of our consciousness, and I wonder if it's not a seeking after an experience that is not good for us. It's certainly difficult to earnestly pursue this kind of spirituality alongside the other approaches you mention, as it seems to have the effect of undercutting them in some ways. To elaborate a solely intra-objective spirituality would, at best, seem impoverished, at worst, lead to a litany of (even perilous?!) maladies such as you inventoried vis a vis the shadow side of a misappropriated intra-objective moment (premature kundalini arousal/awakening, psychological imbalances, disaffectivity). quote: Originally posted by Phil:We've already noted the possibility of a certain anti-intellectualism and the discouragement of (dualistic) intersubjective spirituality. 10
  11. 11. Point of info: While the term inter-subjective is ontologically dualistic, I consider our spirituality, optimally, to transcend epistemic dualism. But this brings up a point I forgot to make earlier --- that epistemic dualism is both necessary and sufficient to realize truth, beauty and goodness in abundance (e.g. erotic love of God in Bernardian love, imperfect contrition, Old Covenant, moral living and so on). SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS present in the integration of experiences of intra-objective identity and inter-subjective intimacy --not because the essential experiences are in any way incompatible existentially, theologically, spiritually, psychologically, axiologically, developmentally, philosophically and so on and so forth. The theoretical integration is past the rudimentary stages thanks to Merton, Maritain, Arraj, Phil and others. These experiences have been validated and deserve to be honored for the role they have and can play in formative spirituality. The chief problem is that the associated practices so often continue to make their way into our culture without proper re-contextualization. In short, they arrive with baggage (that is philosophically and theologically flea-ridden). The practices are often fine but the conclusions (metaphysical and theological) that accompany them are too often heterodox and in a manner that has practical implications --- not only for one's life of prayer, but --- for one's emotional health and cognitive integrity. What is often lacking is proper catechesis and, occasionally, when it is offered, it is confused. Getting intra-objective identity wrong manifests kataphatically as a fundamentalist creationism and God of the gaps (obverse side of materialist monism), philosophically as an ideological naturalism and scientism, theologically as pantheism or radical apophaticism, metaphysically as a rather kooky tautology or silly manipulation of concepts (often found in nonduality internet forums), soteriologically as a denial of evil and even suffering and so on. What to do or not? Chasing after experiences for their own sake is folly. If one is really interested in cultivating intraobjective experience, then I suggest one proceed first through concepts like: 1) methodological naturalism and why we use it in science 2) philosophical naturalism and why it is anti-thetical to Christianity 3) pantheism and panentheism and how are they different 4) connaturality and intuition of being 5) study the Eastern traditions that do have devotional aspects (most do!) and see how nonduality is distinguished vis a vis ultimate reality versus everyday practical reality and phenomenal experience 6) read Merton and Maritain 7) visit innerexplorations.com 8) Google "spiritual emergency" 9) reconceive nonduality in terms of a mediated thirdness or even fourthness and stay away from any monistic oneness gibberish that does not define itself positively on its own terms but more so as an argumentative over against dualism (which makes such approaches, sadly and ironically, inherently dualistic) 10) read the Doctors of the Church, especially the Carmelites 11
  12. 12. like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila and then, and only then, take up an Eastern asceticism or Christian adaptations thereof --- with a good spiritual director standing by as well as the url to: shalomplace.com This message has been edited. Last edited by: johnboy.philothea, 20 December 2011 12:32 AM 12

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