And the squiggley line, evil, beginning at beliefs and imagination......is this where all evil lies? (The Cosmic Egg)
Heart? Soul? Being? Mind? Belonging? Spirit? and "My"? How might one distinguish one from the other? For that matter, why might one distinguish one from the other? Are these necessary distinctions?
No need to use metaphysical categories to explore the above-distinctions, ordinary human-speak's okay if one prefers. Anybody? (Ooops, there we go again, any body, another category!)
I am neither Aquinas nor pseudo-Dionysius and I could not name their nine categories, unless this is an open book test. I will suggest that nine is not nearly enough and whether one uses a substance or process ontology or even a semiotic grammar would matter not, for they would number, in categories, like the stars!
Naomi: How is that for seeding our discussion to continue, Phil? (I am laughing, and loving this exchange!)
You certainly picked up on that one. I follow your process-oriented approach, here, but do you think angels really do exist? For me, the question comes down to whether we believe there could be other spiritual beings besides humans and God. I say "sure, why not?" And there could also be other embodied, human-like spiritual-beings in the universe as well.
Carole, the "Cosmic Egg" is just rough way to show how the levels of reality we've discussed so far relate to each other. I situate the archetypes in the psychological part of our nature (animal soul); many of our "baseline" desires seem to come from archetypal depths. Of course, there are desires that are not specifically related to the archetypes, so that needs to be noted. That's why I drew a line between archetypes and desires and listed other kinds of factors there as well.
I think Ken Wilber stole that from one of Phil's books, or maybe from Kurt Vonnegut --- one of those guys. I forget.
Phil, You asked if I think angels do exist?
Certainly I do! There are so many references in scripture, that I would find it pointless to deny the possibility. The stories and books are endless of those who have had encounters with angels. There are people who see them, paint them, photograph them, sense them, feel them, and communicate with angels. I know many who do. I am even related to one who works with angels in psychic readings. For myself, I am more comfortable with the concept of spirit.
As to why we need all the different categories,JB,I don't know that we need them, but I find the dimensions of body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit part of the beauty and variety in creation! We are created beings, and each house has many mansions. I also love the concept of the Trinity! More mystery!! I seem to breathe more easily in mystery, than I ever could in certainty!
You are asking good questions, Carole! Keep it up. Be assured that others are wondering the same things.
They (and many other such descriptors) certainly correspond to distinct experiences of reality, in my experience.
Originally posted by NS:
I find the dimensions of body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit part of the beauty and variety in creation!
This is lovely. Kind of the opposite of what I've been experiencing. Somewhere in the midst of the readings it occurred to me, kind of a "revelation", that the spiritual is in my body, my cells, infuses it. I knew this intellectually, but for some reason was not able to "experience" it with all of me...I was all disconnected as it were cut off from parts of myself and it was disturbing to me. It felt as if my spiritually were separate from my body and I was also seeing that "out there" in the body of believers, wanting to hear about the earthy being sacred...wanting to experience my body as sacred, and could not. In looking at the "Cosmic Egg" I became aware that this separation was faulty programming from my culture, from the system that formed me....and it had become part of me. Perhaps it's a gender thing....Indeed, I can experienced now, a bit, that my body is holy, is not separate from my spirit and my soul, it is a part of it.....something within me shifted a bit. I'm not sure if I've explained myself correctly.....I don't want to see Jesus as holy apart from His humanity....don't want to think upon His mother Mary as holy apart from her humanity, but Holy BECAUSE of their humanity! I want to see humanity as Holy!
I'm enjoying the teaching and the exchanges immensely. Thanks.
Wow, Carole, that's really great! I think your sharing indicates one of the most exciting aspects about metaphysical understanding -- that it can actually help us to become open to new possibilities. For example, it's not generally known that Thomas Aquinas (a metaphysician par excellence) discusses how we can communicate with angels (as humans and angels have a spiritual consciousness) and even how it is that deceased spirits can influence our minds. The "Cosmic Egg" image shows how this could happen.
Re. the nature of Jesus . . . it's coming, it's coming! Session 6.
Regarding these descriptions of the human experience, whether of body, soul and spirit, or in terms of rationalities:- non-, pre- supra- trans- and such, or in terms of Lonergan's conversions: cognitive, affective, moral, socio-political and religious, or any other paradigm ---
that seemingly favorite phrase of Jacques Maritain comes to mind: We distinguish in order to unite.
I like to say that different aspects of our human nature, in certain moments, enjoy primacy in this or that encounter with reality but never really enjoy autonomy.
This "primacy" may result from either the nature of what is being known or from the exigencies of the know-er. In other words, the type of reality we are engaging may very well moreso call forth one or another aspect of our humanity that we might optimally experience reality. Or, the circumstances of our own internal milieu may dictate which aspect of the human knowledge manifold is most engaged with this or that reality. One concrete example might be, in the realm of interpersonal relating, one is told to lead with the heart and follow with the head. In science, one might suppose that the opposite would be true, but not necessarily. In some of the thorniest problems of cosmology and theoretical physics, the aesthetic sensibilities of the researcher have often led the way to new discoveries. In fact, the word cosmos, denotes the particular type of beauty that comes from harmony, symmetry and patterns. It is a nonrational experience that informs our rational pursuits such that, for instance, Einstein might declare: God does not play dice. Lately, I've been thinking that perhaps She does, except they're loaded.
But back to this primacy without autonomy, even the thomistic substance metaphysic, informed by the aristotelian perspective, is quite distinct from the dualistic, platonic system that St. Augustine and other dualists would buy into, even today. Aquinas employed the word hylomorphic to describe our human nature as a composite, which is to say it is integral, holistic. This does not represent a compromise between dualism and materialism but is an approach clearly distinguished from either.
Some may find a process approach more robust in dealing with the developmental aspects of human nature. One reason to affirm these distinctions, for instance --- cognitive, affective, moral, social and religious, is that both psychological science and theological anthropology have recognized that, however integrated these aspects of humanity are, still, it is common experience that, when it comes to growth and development of these aspects, growth in one area does not always entail growth in the other. People develop intellectually quite often with no concommitant growth emotionally, for instance. It has been said that development in one area, or conversion in one area, does transvalue the others, clearly positively influences the others, but the distinctions remain.
Thus the journey to authenticity, described by Lonergan, requires ongoing conversion in all of these areas. So, too, the developmental psychologists, like Piaget, Erikson, Kohlberg, Fowler et al, indicate that our road to psychological maturity has many twists and turns as our cognitive and personality and moral and faith development tend to take place assymetrically, though not wholly unrelated.
The implications for formative spirituality are manifold and profound.
Oh Carol, it is such a holy moment when we no longer view all the beauty as only being "out there." We discover the seeds of divinity germinating in our own hearts. It is the direction of the essence of love as it guides us to that realization that is the higher journey. Everything becomes transluscent.
We tend to think it is the object of our love that we want, or that we will find it somewhere out there. You articulate it beautifully.
All the time, we are looking from within God, looking through the eyes of divinity. No wonder we can't see God's face. Spring comes within us as surely as it comes to the earth.
It is given for all of us, without limitation, and it sets us free.
I didn't want to jump the gun re: my take on angels until I had provided some background on semiotics vis a vis substance and process metaphysics. Later, I'll categorize love and spirit. But for now, here is how I would approach it, which, mercifully, I won't.
THE SEMIOSIS OF ANGELS
Actually, the above treatment as published in The Thomist is rather dense, so I will provide a succint summary below:
Angels are COOL
On October 29 Phil asked "Have any of you had contact with what you believe to be angels?"
In 1984 I was with my elderly sister on a small group tour through the Catacombs in Rome. We were cautioned to stay with the group because it was easy to get lost in the many passageways. After a short period of time, to my horror, I discovered my sister was not with us and nowhere to be seen. Just as I was about to call to the guide, she showed up beside me. She told me that she had gotten lost and a nice looking tall gentleman took her by the arm to steady her and guide her. She did not recall him being a member of the group, but gladly accepted his assistance. When she was at my side she turned to thank him and he was gone. As she described him to me, we suddenly both realized he definitely had not been one of us.
Angel? One of those saints who manifested? Who knows. What a beautiful memory.
Another true experience, harder to believe. Some years ago I was visiting another elderly sister and her husband in Waveland, Ms. He had just been discharged from the hospital, but insisted on taking us for a drive along the beach front. I was concerned about his driving ability because I knew he was on pain medication,and I offered to drive, but he would not allow it. He drove much too slow for the traffic, but I thought that was better than speeding. Suddenly he turned off the beach road to show me some houses. Before I realized it, he was turning left slowly and directly into oncoming traffic on a four lane highway, not even making an attempt to go with the traffic on the other side of the neutral ground. I knew we were dead as two speeding cars were ready to crash into us. I have no explanation for what happened next. I did not see angels. All I saw was the face of the drivers and their cars frozen in time and space, perfectly peaceful, no screeching of brakes or ugly words. While time stood still for them, my brother-in-law calmly drove onto the neutral ground and then the other cars moved on.Has anyone ever heard of this type of experience?
I felt it had to be told.Thanks for listening.
In response to your post, I had an experience maybe 20 or 30 years ago, not exactly like, but similar to yours.
I was driving by myself on the back roads of New Hampshire, coming upon a small narrow bridge over a little stream just before a sharp left hand corner. As I was about to enter the short bridge a huge truck came speeding around the corner onto the bridge, very, very fast, as if it were out of control. There was no way and no time to get out of the way and no way both of us would fit on the little bridge. I immediately (thankfully) offered myself to God, thinking this was it for me, I was about to die. Next thing I knew I was on the other side of the bridge parked off the road on the right. It was as if I had been suspended above the truck and floated into place where I rested. I collected myself and drove home. It was quite an experience.
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