Nondual considerations


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Nondual considerations

  1. 1. RE: This energy brings with it the promise of a new future, a future born not from the past but from the eternal moment. And it carries the joy of life, unpolluted and unconditioned. It is impersonal and powerful Look at this schema, where I refer to an "intraobjective identity" and this may correspond to the impersonal reality of which you speak. I am sure you have come across panentheism. My approach is close to that but not identical to it. The distinction I would offer is this. We can distinguish between different aspects of our experience of reality and different aspects of reality itself. Rather than aspire to robustly describe aspects of reality that yet remain beyond our horizon, I tend to focus on describing our experiences, which are quite undeniable even if they leave us perplexed regarding the precise nature of their origin and essential nature. That way, we avoid proving too much, saying more than we can possibly know, or telling untellable stories. So, in my interpretation (not description) of our "experience" of reality (not reality, in and of itself), I very much affirm an intraobjective (not inter- because that is dualistic, not subjective because that is personal) experience of our radical solidarity with reality as we interact with it moreso "functionally" and less so personally. None of this is to suggest that the intuitions that flow from our experiences do not have ontological implications; rather, it is to provide a caveat regarding our ability to articulate what is often, in principle, ineffable or, at best, vague. Our traditions are in touch with this aspect of interaction and speak of it in many ways, such as the Tao, such as going with the flow, such as with references to subtle energy paradigms, such as in enlightenment, such as in nondual realization, and maybe more to the point from our own Western Hesychast tradition which speaks of the uncreated energy of God, drawing a distinction between God's Divine essence and God's divine energy or operations (think of our recent celebration of the Transfiguration and the Light). Many think that Orthodox and Roman Catholicism cannot be reconciled vis a vis this distinction but I am in the camp that believes it can, with sufficient nuance. Hesychasm may be of special interest to your prayer group, which is initiated in centering prayer. This simplicity in prayer is so very well suited to that stage of life and of the spiritual journey that is disposed to contemplation and utter simplicity. Those who persist in their awareness of God may well, I believe, be better prepared to perceive the Divine activity, whether it be interpreted via a distinction between God's essence and energies or as an anticipatory or proleptic realization of the beatific glory. Of course, once we look behind the curtain of this "impersonal" experience, our theology will suggest that it derives, nonetheless, from a supremely personal being. Succinctly, whoever wrote that is one of my soulmates, saying mostly the same things that I believe in much the same way even! Thanks for sharing! See my own "quarternary" schema below. 1
  2. 2. Of course this affirms THAT miracles occur (via a vague interpretation of reality) but this does not begin to suggest HOW they occur (via any robust description of reality). I will offer some distinctions. From the descriptive sciences, we have String Theory, most versions of which rely on 11 dimensions, some (bosonic) suggest as many as 26. We are not using the word "dimension" in the same sense, though, when doing human anthropology and suggesting, for example, as I do, the rather classical dimensions of body, soul, spirit and true self. Furthermore, the author's use of the term, pneumatosphere, is theological (interpretive) and neither scientific nor metaphysical (both descriptive). The difference between the interpretive and descriptive is highly nuanced, so I will oversimplify it here. The descriptive deals with empirical facts and measurements and is merely INFORMative. The interpretive ties-together the descriptive (is that a fact?), evaluative (what's it to us?) and normative (what's the best way to acquire or avoid it?) and so is robustly PERFORMative, which is to say that it influences our responses to reality, what I call the "existential disjunctive" or, more simply, "I will therefore act as if ..." and so ... let us not act as those who have no hope! Because we do interpret reality as if it is headed somewhere and guided along the way, when certain events happen in our lives that are quite extraordinary and beyond science's ability to describe, it is not unreasonable to characterize them as isolated, proleptic (anticipatory) realizations of a fullness of reality that is yet to come, as extraordinarily full pneumatological breakthroughs providing us "down payments" or "first fruits" or "guarantees" or "earnest agreements" of an eternal glory, an eschatological reality. (The "Our Father" well captures both the now and proleptic dimensions, eh?) Now, because such events are relatively isolated and incredibly unique, defying patterns and predictability, they will not, by definition and in principle, lend themselves to scientific or even metaphysical descriptions (at least not good, reliable, credible accounts). Again, we believe THAT miracles occur but we do not aspire to explain HOW, precisely because their nature defies explanation. I will also enclose my article from last year, which you can share with anyone, along with this exchange. I haven't distributed it widely because it is not intended for a general audience but was written, as they say, for the guild. But it has some places that should be generally accessible, especially for those of you who have been well initiated by my esoterica :) Recall that John of the Cross noted how, even in mortal sin, we are never separated from God insofar as He continues to hold us in existence. Also, some theologians speak of creatio continua in addition to creatio ex nihilo, a distinction that suggests that not only must God have created out of nothing (ex nihilo) but must not forget us for a nanosecond but "continue" the act of creation that we not fall out of existence. There are many aspects to reality that we could label tacit and I have written of this "tacit dimension" as being ineluctably unobtrusive but utterly efficacious. This is the "soft power" of the Tao and of the gentle Holy Spirit as distinguished from the "hard power" of so many of our human interventions. Also, many in the church's mystical tradition, up to and including Keating, well describe the Divine Indwelling. The wording and terminology will variously change as we move from one perspective to 2
  3. 3. the next, philosophically, metaphysically, theologically, religiously, anthropologically and so on, or from sacramental to ascetical to mystical to pastoral theology and formative spirituality. I say this by way of suggesting that the Church does say such things but we run into different models and different jargon is all. You mentioned something about unholy spirits and I was not sure what you meant in this context. I know that increasingly many are abandoning such notions as demons and such. I would only point out that folks like Scott Peck, even, based on clinical experience, came to the conclusion that, however literally true or not, it remains a useful "construct." Fr. Benedict Groeschel described similar "encounters" from his extensive pastoral experience. Amos and I treat the reality in a footnote in our article. Perhaps what is of over-riding importance is that, ultimately, in the end, however real or not, the reality of demons will have "accomplished" naught, will be found to be an empty suit, impotent, powerless, defeated. Even now, they are like the British in Chalmette fighting the Battle of New Orleans in a War that was already over. For now, it's best, I believe, we look 'em in the eye and fire our spiritual muskets. The pneumatic dimension: The presence of God in the human heart and its therapeutic function -SketchesThe inclusion of the pneumatic dimension Let us begin with the “dimensional ontology” endorsed by Viktor Frankl in his Logotherapy meaning by it the hierarchical structure of biological-somatic, psychological and spiritual-noetic dimensions of the human being. In his terminology the term “spiritual” does not have religious meaning but refers to what is specifically human, the realm of responsibility, freedom, decisions and search for meaning and he refers to it often also as noological or noetic dimension (from the Greek ‘noos’ word meaning ‘mind’) Frankl’s stress to free the term “spiritual” as he used it from any religious connotation is inspired by the wish to keep Logotherapy open for all independently of their beliefs and his effort of keeping religion and psychiatry apart did not mean the denial the validity of the religious sphere which would mean a form of reductionism against which he fought insistently. He sees them as belonging to different dimensions and adds: “From the very analogy of dimensions, however, it should become clear that these realms are by no means mutually exclusive. A higher dimension, by definition, is a more inclusive one. The lower dimension is included in the higher one; it is subsumed in it and encompassed by it. Thus biology is overarched by psychology, psychology by noology, and noology by theology” . Here we see an indication of an all-encompassing fourth dimension, to which religion and specifically theology belongs. This we call “pneumatic” dimension (from the Greek word "pneuma" for “spirit”; here alluding to the Holy Spirit of God) and it was explicitly introduced by the Frankl scholar Donald F. Tweedie. 3
  4. 4. A further example for treating the pneumatic dimension is found in the work of Lou Marinoff. “Marinoff is influenced by Frankl, fights like Frankl against reductionism (biologism and psychologism), and adds to the somatic (Biology: wellness versus illness; province of medicine), psychic (Affect: order versus disorder; province of psychology), and noetic dimension (= he calls it the "philosophical dimension") (Thought: Ease versus Dis-ease; province of philosophy) the pneumatic dimension (Spirit). Marinoff's "Golden Triangle" where the fourth or pneumatic dimension (Spirit) lies above (see the picture in the book "Philosophical Practice", p. 96) is very similar to Frankl's dimensional ontology - but Marinoff mentions the pneumatic dimension here”. Frankl used the analogy of the point of perspective that lies outside of the picture but without it the image has no correct proportions and sense of depth to illustrate that God although stands outside of the human life but gives meaning to it. With the inclusion of the pneumatic dimension so to speak we draw this “point of perspective” in our view of the human being. The inclusion of the fourth dimension from Catholic (and from most Protestant) point of view has its foundation in the presence of the Holy Spirit in every human being created in the image of God and particularly in the teaching about the indwelling of the Trinity as a gift of God in the soul. Thus the pneumatic dimension is not simply a facet of the human existence but its very core, which permeates and organizes all other dimensions and is the source of the uniqueness of the human person and of its communication with God. “…God himself as the abiding and holy mystery, as the incomprehensible ground of man’s transcendent existence is not only the God of infinite distance, but also wants to be the God of absolute closeness in a true self-communication, and he is present in the spiritual depths of our existence as well as in the concreteness of our corporeal history” .The “human trinity” (somatic, psychic, noetic dimensions) created on the image of the divine Trinity has this fourth dimension, which is the ground of its existence and a special dimension of communication through grace with God, and so we have a “quaternity”. During the Middle Ages there were representations of the divine “Quaternity”, bringing in God a human, feminine figure, often the Blessed Virgin Mary. Might we say that God has something human in him, not only because of the Incarnation but also as an immanent feature? > While classical Logotherapy should avoid the confusion with religious connotation, a really holistic Catholic approach to healing and growth in general, as Christotherapy, can and should take into its field of work all the four dimensions of the human being. Moreover, the pneumatic dimension constitutes its specific area, meaning by this that Christotherapy offers a way to healing in problems specific of the pneumatic dimension (for example healing from sinful and destructive tendencies where Christotherapy relies on the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises). On the other hand when a change occurs on the pneumatic level, it will influence the somatic, psychic and noetic dimensions as well. For example, the effects of forgiveness might resound on the somatic level, including physical healing as in he story of the paralyzed young man in Mark’s gospel (2:2-12). Jesus says to the paralytic “Child, your sins are forgiven” and this healing on pneumatic level - since it was a reconciliation with God - the young man becomes able to get up, take his mat and go home. 4
  5. 5. Pneumatic unconscious When Logotherapy included the noological dimension in psychology it meant in particular the introduction of the noetic also in depth psychology, in the psychology of unconscious. While psychoanalysis considered only the instinctual unconscious, Frankl pointed out the existence of the “spiritual” (noetic) unconscious. It is the realm of the conscience, art and love, it manifest itself in responsibleness, moral conscience, intuition, and artistic creativity for example. Human existence itself is unconscious, as it cannot be made totally conscious and reflected upon, and all dimensions of the human being extend on the unconscious, preconscious as well as on the conscious level. The modified dimensional ontology of four dimensions shows the existence of the “pneumatic unconscious” as well, that part of the pneumatic dimension that cannot be fully reflected upon, or brought into consciousness but is at the “depth” of the human person. The phenomenon that occur in the unconscious depths of the pneumatic dimension fall into the realm of religious conversion, religious intuition or inspiration by the Holy Spirit, mystical experience of the indwelling God and similar. I would say that the so-called charismatic phenomena, relying on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, like prophetic insights and healing experiences belong to he manifestations of the “pneumatic unconscious”. The pneumatic dimension is the “place” (not in spatial sense) of communication with the indwelling God and this inner dialog is often unconscious even if it might have initiated by a conscious desire that is when one begins to pray. All prayer can reach the depths of the pneumatic unconscious but this characteristic is more manifest and directly intended in non-conceptual contemplative prayer, sometimes called also the prayer of the “heart”, to which category also centering prayer and the Jesus prayer belongs. The Christian mystical life is the living and transforming dialog with the indwelling God, and the fruits of this dialog are realized in the concreteness of love outward. Thus to be mystics means to love all creatures of God from the source of love in the depths of one’s pneumatic dimension. The works of St. John of the Cross reveal much of the dynamics of the intimacy between the person and the indwelling Trinity through the pneumatic unconscious. God is communicating with the human person through his grace but this is always a self-communication; in this way one grows in knowledge and love of the Trinity and participates in the divine nature although remaining distinct creature. St. John of the Cross’ writings show that paradoxically the self-communicating God, as one grows in intimacy with him becomes experienced more and more as inaccessible and transcendent, “hidden God”. The first stanza of The Spiritual Canticle expresses in a form of lyrical love poem the tension of this experience as the lover complaints of the painful absence of the Beloved: > ¿Adonde te escondiste, > Amado, y me dejaste con gemido? > Como il cervo huiste Habiendome herido; > Salí tras ti clamando, y eras ido > > Where have You hidden, > Beloved, and left me moaning? > You fled like the stag > After wounding me; > I went out calling You and You were gone. 5
  6. 6. St. John also offered a commentary to the Canticle and in connection with this stanza he speaks of the “hidden” (unconscious) presence of the indwelling Trinity in the innermost being of soul (pneumatic dimension) thus adding to the ontological reference of the presence of God in the pneumatic dimension an experiential characterization, it is unconscious: “It should be known that the Word, the Son of God, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, is hidden by His essence and His presence in the innermost being of the soul. A person who wants to find Him should leave all things through affection and will, enter within himself in deepest recollection, and regard things as though they were nonexistent. St. Augustine, addressing God in the Soliloquies, said: I did not find You without, Lord, because I wrongly sought You without, Who were within. God, then, is hidden in the soul and there the good contemplative must seek Him with love, exclaiming: "Where have you hidden?" When a person gets closer to God instead of becoming less free, so to say crushed by the overwhelming grandeur of the Absolute, he or she will grow not only in faith, knowledge and love of God, but in personal freedom and in other specifically human areas; and sometimes might experience even psychosomatic benefit. It might be said that God retreats, hides in the unconscious to give space for the creature and let him or her be transformed and reach spiritual and human maturity: St John explains the hiddenness of God in this way: "Yet you inquire: Since He Whom my soul loves is within me, why don't I find Him or experience Him? The reason is that He remains concealed and you do not also conceal yourself in order to encounter and experience Him". The person’s deepest actions in the pneumatic dimension remain unconscious, because of the intensity involved one cannot reflect upon oneself similarly to the conscience, love and art on the human noetic level. In the pneumatic dimension conscience, love and intuition is informed by grace, infused by the Holy Spirit; here the human existence with its unconscious depths opens up and “runs” into God. God however is not a puppeteer in its relationship to the human being. The grace of God when assists the conscience in its depths does not takes away the freedom of the creature but increases it to its fullest potential and autonomy; similarly, the works inspired by the Holy Spirit are fully human achievements and the love infused by grace is most authentically the love of the person. Frankl pointed out that although conscience is unconscious still we could explore some of its operation through dreams. In the existential analysis of dreams are interpreted as messages from the conscience originated in the noetic, human dimension. In the modified dimensional ontology we see the foundation and source of conscience reaching in the pneumatic dimension and certain dreams might be interpreted as messages from this depth, from the indwelling Trinity. Scriptural examples of such messages are the dreams of St. Joseph in the infancy narrative of the 6
  7. 7. gospel of Matthew (chapters 1 and 2); in these dreams the “angel of the Lord” (representing God’s intervention) delivers the messages of which one is the explanation of the situation with Mary and there are warning dreams of possible danger. In the analysis of such dreams the interpreter as well relies partially on the unconscious depths when recognizes a dream as authentic message from the indwelling God. The interpretation of such inspired dreams needs to be done with the help of grace with discernment and cautiously; the same is valid for these phenomena than for the so-called private revelations: they are authentic if they help live in faith, love and hope and are in harmony with the faith of the Church. The pneumatosphere It seems that we might speak of a pneumatoshpere, which like the noosphere and biosphere constitutes our environment. The pneumatosphere is not restricted to the Church since the Holy Spirit acts in all mankind, although the Church receives a special guidance for its mission. Similarly as the other “spheres” the pneumatosphere sometimes gets “polluted” and as in case of collective noogenic neurosis we witness the influence of collective neurosis of pneumatic origin. God respects the freedom of the human person and although his presence cannot be destroyed and the spiritual (noetic and pneumatic) core of the human person cannot get sick, the thirst of the human heart for God sometimes gets frustrated – maybe often because of the lack of authentically presented and lived faith on the part of the Church. The frustrated search for the Ultimate Meaning in God tends to manifest itself in symptoms of pseudoreligiosity. I think that collective neurosis of pneumatic origin appears not only in the cults, New Age and countless esoteric practices, healing gurus but also in distortions of Christian religiosity as well. The healing of this type of neurosis requires therapies like Christotherapy that reach to the pneumatic sphere and discover spiritual, pneumatic methods of therapy to use them along with classical Logotherapy and psychotherapy. Krisztina November 19, 2005 > Copyright © 2005 Our Lady of the Graces Hermitage. All rights reserved. > Throughout this writing for additional clarity I will use the term noological or noetic for the third dimension. For example in Viktor Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul, (New York: Knopf, 1965) p. xi. Viktor Frankl, The Unconscious God, (New York: Washington Square Press, 1985) p.13. See the presentation of fourth dimension in Donald F. Tweedie, The Christian and the Couch. An Introduction to Christian Logotherapy, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1963) pp. 48-58. This quote is from a communication with Dr. Reinhard Zaiser Ph.D. Logotherapist and Existential Analyst, member of the American Philosophical Practitioners 7
  8. 8. Association (APPA). Cf. Lou Marinoff, Philosophical Practice, (San Diego, NewYork, London: Academic Press, 2002) pp. 96-97. Marinoff is a philosophy professor at the City College and New York and president of APPA > <!--[if ! supportFootnotes Cf. Viktor Frankl, Homo Patiens, (Wien: Franz Dietcke, 1950) p. 86. Quoted in Robert C. Leslie, Jesus as Counselor, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1968) Karl Rahner, Foundations of the Christian Faith, (New York: The Seabury Press, 1978). P.137. Once I saw an interesting illustration of the Star of David, composed of two equilateral triangles; the pointing up represents the “human trinity” and the other the divine “Trinity”. In this imagery the fourth “dimension” is this superposed divine triangle. The illustration was intended as a symbol of Jesus, Son of David, perfect man and perfect God. We could play with the thought that in the case of all other humans the two triangles are more or less perfectly superposed… See the detailed presentation of this gospel “case study” in Leslie, “Jesus as Counselor,” pp. 55-63. See the chapter “The Spiritual Unconscious” in Frankl, “The Unconscious God,” pp. 25-32. The “heart” as Hebrew biblical concept sometimes means the whole person, more often the center of the human being, the source of all faculties not associated only with the emotions as in Western culture and it seems to refer also to the pneumatic dimension. From The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD., (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979) p.712. Ibid., commentary to the first stanza, sixth point, p. 418. The quote of St. Augustine is in Pseudo-Augustine, Soliliquiorum animae ad Deum liber unus, c.30:PL 40, 888. Ibid., ninth point of the commentary of the first stanza, p. 419. Cf. Frankl, “The Unconscious God,” pp. 40-51. 8