November 12, 2006

A reflection of the Absolute in the relative

The human being is faced with two, and only two, metaphysical choices between a wholly secular and ultimately horizontal world view or a vertical and ultimately religious one. In the final analysis, despite all of the apparent variety, this is the only philosophical choice before you. On the one side, atheism, materialism, existentialism, rationalism, what have you. And on the other side, any form of transcendental realism. Now, importantly, if you choose the former, then the latter is excluded a priori. In other words, if there is only the horizontal world, then the vertical does not and cannot exist. However, if you choose the latter, it is obviously no problem fitting horizontality into the picture as a necessary consequence of the very nature of the Absolute...
Now, in my quick response to Chad, I wrote that “You must draw a distinction between the frontal ego, which largely operates horizontally, and the psychic being (which is Sri Aurobindo’s term for the nous, buddhi, or higher intellect), which operates vertically. The former is by definition ‘fractured’ and alienated from its ground, while the latter is a reflection of the Absolute in the relative, and therefore a diversified unity.”...
Even more generally, time is not just mere duration, but the transforming mode of being. It has cycles and archetypal qualities, which is why we can even speak of “growth” or “evolution.” In this scheme, evolution is a necessary consequence of the Absolute manifesting in time. Ironically, progressive evolution (as opposed to mere change) is something that cannot be explained (because it is inherently vertical) by any purely horizontal metaphysics, which is why so-called “creationists” are even more materialistic than materialists. It is always a mistake to try to reduce metaphysical truth — truths that must be true — to your narrow creed. Rather, your task is to understand how these timeless truths are reflected in your creed. God did not give you an intellect only to ignore its most lofty capabilities. Please.
To affirm that man is the mirror and image of the Absolute is to remind ourselves that man is the being who can escape his own limits and participate in the eternal, which we only do all the time. But since we are a mirror image of the Absolute, while it projects itself from eternity into time, our task is to ascend from time to eternity. In fact, when all is unsaid with non-doing, this is the sole task of the spiritual life. This ascension involves reversing figure and ground, so to speak, both spatially and temporally. In other words, we must turn the world upside-down and inside-out.

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