Stephen, if you examine creation plotting consciousness on one axis and biological complexity on another, then human beings are at the apex of creation. We have a higher consciousness than other animals and a more complex nervous system. But this also means that we have more responsibility for the creation than other animals. Theologically, that's what the idea of being co-creators with God is about -- of being stewards of the creation. As you noted, we often act more like a virus, but it sort of proves the point of hierarchical consciousness in acknowledging the severity of the damage we can and do inflict because of our irresponsible behavior.
Well, bully for you! Only, you don't get to define what "spirit" means, here. It doesn't simply mean energy nor even life. Theologically, spirit refers to a being who is conscious to him/herself and who is in possession of reflective consciousness and a volitional subjectivity. That is what it means to be a "person," and so to be capable of "personal relationship." There is no evidence that any species but humans has such a consciousness on earth.
Just to point out a couple of areas where there can be no real progress in dialogue without some basic agreement on the meaning of words. You can make the points you're making about interconnectedness, etc., but you cannot re-define terms like "spirit," "person," and so forth to support your points. That dog don't hunt.
Well, bully for them guys that do get to define what spirit is. Thems must be some stand up guys . But supposing you're right, who's to say these nature spirits aren't reflective or volitional? I think they are. A whole bunch of folk tales from all around the world say they are. Native aboriginal cultures around the world say they are and frequently interact with them in sacred ceremony. DMT research is beginning to show evidence of such beings attached to nature. The work of Dr Rick Strassman. The research of Terence McKenna. Rupert Shekdrake's work, where he shows the heightened intuition of dogs and other animals, a level of consciousness we can't match, is interesting. Science is only beginning to scrape the surface with this stuff. There is perhaps more to spirit than meets the eye or the ear, and I reserve the right to say so .
Really? The whole of creation, in the whole of the physical universe? No. How will Christianity respond to first contact, I wonder? I'm ready. The truth is out there .
We're talking about life on earth, not the universe.
And . . . yes: bats hear better than I do, dogs have a better sense of smell and a kind of natural intuition, etc. But that's not what the Christian tradition means by spiritual consciousness. Not all consciousness is spiritual consciousness, and animals certainly do have a kind of consciousness that we can resonate with. That's why people like their pets so much! Shamans are also deeply in touch with this level.
Talk to a really smart dog about what you've written in your post above and see how well that goes. Heck, I'll even let you do so with a chimp, or a whale. I'm sure they'll understand.
Spirits are not only aware, but are aware that they are aware, and as such possess themselves differently from animals, knowing themselves to be an individual subject of their own consciousness. Animals are aware, but not of themselves as the subject of their awareness. There's just no evidence to support this.
Well if that's how you want to define spiritual consciousness, fine. To me that's more an intellectual self awareness than spiritual consciousness.
How would you define the level a shaman works at? That's as spiritual as any traditional Christian definition. It's an interaction with the spirit of nature, the interconnectedness of spirit. What about dreams where we lose ourselves as subjects of our own consciousness? Is our spirituality suddenly compromised? And yet dreams are a treasure house of spirituality, very often the key to our spiritual natures which we make sense of via the intellect. The lack of which makes it impossible for chimps to understand me.
In fact it's precisely when we lose ourselves as subjects of our own consciousness and become immersed in God when we are most spiritual.
I think you'll find references to life in the universe throughout my posts as well btw. It's just no one seemed to address it.
P.S. my dog thinks you're an old hard ass
But, Stephen, you're the one who's using "spiritual" idiosyncratically. It has a very specific meaning in Christianity, especially with regard to the nature of a creature. You seem to want it to mean something very different -- energy, life force, etc.
You never lose yourself as the subject of your consciousness in a dream, for you can report on the dream as something that happened to "you."
Did you not read my new book on "God and I"? I sent you a copy. I go over all this in that book.
What do you want us to address? I'm all for it. What do you or anyone else really know about it, however?
Are you speaking of ontology or experience? We are spiritual beings going into union with God, and we are spiritual beings when we emerge from mystical ecstacy. Our spiritual consciousness is that which re-cognizes that we have had ecstatic experience.
God is not interested in annihilating our "I" or subjectivity. The resurrection of Jesus gives ample evidence of this.
Oh you are too clever by half, St Romain. You make me mad .
I haven't read your book yet. I've been saturated with words. Sorry. I think in fact I look at words so much they begin to lose all meaning, which is where post modern experimental poetry takes over.
I'm beginning to wonder if I've ever understood Christian theology, at least from a Catholic perspective. I have always considered spirit to be the deepest part of us that links to God. And so all life, all matter has spirit. Spiritual consciousness on the other hand would be an evolved realisation of spirit, something all animals have potentially, something inanimate matter realises through its sprites and faeries.
But if you all think different then maybes I'm beginning to pick up on that a little . I'm just not sure I agree yet.
More than I'm willing to share .
So much of postmodern writing seems to be a refined articulation of experience, with very little reflection given to understanding its deeper meanings, about which many postmoderners are generally cynical narcissists. Critical thinking skills are used to deconstruct meanings and break them down into word-chunks. Ideas are lost or obfuscated in the process. Truth becomes considered an illusion, or, at best, a personal opinion rather than a summons to self-transcendence.
Words that contribute to knowledge and understanding are food for the soul. One only grows tired of them when one has come to absorb all the truth one can take in and integrate. It is truth that sets us free, not rebellion against it or the boundaries it delineates.
So one must be careful of words, for our Lord has told us that he will hold us accountable for every unguarded, idle word we speak (Mt. 12:36). Words are a sharing in the power of the Word, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. They are the means by which we convey not only personal experiences (very important), but the meaning of those experiences (a much higher form of communication).
Words can be used in the service of understanding the truth, or they can be used to obfuscate. The latter are easy enough to recognize, as they leave one restless, self-absorbed, and pre-occupied with being "clever." Words that move one to truth and love produce peace, a sense of integrity, and joy. They can be expressed in many ways, from the simplicity of haikus to the dense doctrines of systematic theologians. Empty, clever words bring fatigue, as they are suffused with despair; words in the service of truth and love bring life, as the energies they convey are of God.
Well written, but I'm not sure I get it. Help me out, here.
-- I accidentally hit edit instead of quote on your post above. Sorry.
I was just about ready to simply leave it at that after your last reply to me Stephen. I was left feeling that to continue pushing at our inability to see eye to eye may lead down a path of more negative type interactions and I was extremely grateful that we were able to express our differences without attacking or ridiculing. I know you are sincere in your interactions with God and with me, and so to keep pushing my point seemed uncharitable. I couldn't make head or tail (sorry )of your poetry link...my wife suggested that perhaps there was a "key" to reading the poem that would yield an intelligent reading...I'm all ears
But having said that I still felt we were talking past each other in some sense, I didn't feel properly understood, but I didn't know how to discern where the problem lay.
Ah, Phil, this is why I love you...I couldn't put my finger on why we were passing each other over when there seemed to be so much we agreed on...I think you've hit the nail on the head.
Agree or not, I think this is a great summary of where our difference lies.
I'm so glad to hear you say this...the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem
What I was calling the Ground of Being is what you admit here you are calling Spirit. But I think it is more accurate to say that the Ground of Being is God Himself and thus God is found at the very Core of All of Creation (Panen-theism, God in Creation), but still separate from nature (thus not Pantheism, God is Creation/God is the heart/core of Creation). While this Ground is the foundation of existence and "feeds" life into all of reality, that life does not share in the Ground by Nature, but can by Grace.
This last part speaks to my questions about animal/plant/mineral spirits vs. angels. What I mean by Angel is a being comprised of pure spirit, having no physical/material nature.
Rocks or water or stars etc., having no consciousness or spiritual nature, would still be an image of the Divine since they still exist through the Ground of Being.
There may be pure spirits (which I refer to as angels (etymologically 'messengers of God') and you term sprites or faeries, that exist to somehow mediate existence on behalf of these inorganic creations. As I said, this is still acceptable under orthodox theology. Is this what you mean by sprites and faeries, or do you believe sprites and faeries have material bodies as well as a spiritual nature?
And finally, are you saying that you have personally been abducted...and was this a physical experience or a mystical or altered-state type experience?
Ok, I have to slow down, Jacques. My kundalini's blazing.
I don't really agree with your take on words, Phil. Yes, it would be nice if we all took great care with our words but we don't. There are too many words today, words are everywhere, a virus. PM poetry finds new meanings in unusual word combinations, allows the reader to make something new from the underlying poetic signatures, rather than being told what he or she should think or feel by the poet, which to me is an antidote to the information overload of our age. Too many words. Too many opinions. Too many onions. Let's chop 'em up and fry 'em. PM poetry doesn't try to tell the truth or elevate, it tries to transform the chaos of everybody trying to tell the truth via opinion. I find that beautiful. I don't always write like that. Other stuff is more accessible. More immediately uplifting. I could dash off a few haiku for you but it's a post modern kind of a day . What does one do when one gets tired of something trying to be beautiful, trying to tell the truth? One turns to the secret beauty of obfuscation.
As for the abduction story. It is what it is. Even I don't know what it was, but it was weird, and the only way I could convey the experience was through some dense writing. And so yet another experience, you say! Well, yes, I can't do much about that, but it leaves me wondering what theology at this level can really do for me? That might be narcissistic, but sometimes it feels that the experience boom I've had leaves any orthodox theology or rational philosophy redundant. A nice intellectual conceit but irrelevant to my needs. An attempt at truth, but my experiences are truer, more persuasive. Sorry. It's such a relief to just go to Jesus and say, Lord, I don't understand any of this. Sometimes I don't say anything, sometimes I just moan. That's poetry too.This message has been edited. Last edited by: samson,
PS - just the other day I started writing poems in a style influenced by Merton's friend, Robert Lax, whom I love. They are very minimalist, simple, child like even. Beautiful, I hope, in a more accessible way. I think it's the way to go for me! As for that Eratio link, Jacques, if you concentrate on the first line of the first poem and just listen to the sound and rhythm, see where it takes you. Say it out loud.
Jacques, I hope we never fall out. I like you a lot .
Thanks Stephen, I appreciate that, and while we might disagree now and then, I too am glad that it can remain gracious. I like you a lot too
How surprising, Stephen, that you did not agree with my little reflection on words! Which part, I wonder?
There can never be "too many words" if the words truly sign-i-fy something substantive -- that describes an experience, or expresses an integrous process of reflection in an attempt to understand, for example. Information overload is a possibility, however, only what is one doing overloading on information they don't really need?
I've enjoyed your PM poetry and word combinations, but they do what most art does and no more: they help us to "see" things from another angle. That's important. Essential! But it doesn't move beyond the level of perception/experience -- what Lonergan calls the first level of consciousness. PM seems incapable of moving much beyond this, which is why subjectivity reigns. And yet our consciousness is also ordered to raise questions, to seek truth, to understand, and this entails Lonergan's 2nd and 3rd levels of consciousness wherein we formulate tentative answers and then go on to attempt to form judgments pertaining to the truth/factuality of an issue. This moves us toward the dimension of objective reality, which PMers find nauseous. They are allergic to objectivity so they are imprisoned in "experience" and subjectivity wthout any means to self-critique. All they can do is "compare experiences," thinking that consensus will reveal truth, if such a word dare be used. Can you see the error of this approach? Without 2nd and 3rd level operations of human consciousness, we are little different from the plants and animals who, after all, have "experiences" as well.
So what I really want to tell you, Stephen, is to use your left brain more. Think critically. Do not assume that experience = reality, or truth, or whatever. This will actually help to ground and integrate kundalini, which tends to flow along the channels of attention. Too much flow into the right brain leaves one overwhelmed with "possibilities," but unable to sort them out and critique them. God gave us a left brain to help balance the right. Use it!
Ok, I'll try. It might hurt though. I'm lopsided .
Can critical thinking really lead to truth, though? If I think critically about critical thinking, I have my doubts. So much of what we understand seems conditioned by who we are as personalities. So much of our nature is invested in what we regard as truth. Having said that, I believe love is truth, and Christ is truth, so I must believe in an ultimate truth at the core of my being. Negotiating my way to resting in that permanently seems awfully difficult. Which is why I like simplicity, and littleness (St Therese). Is it not more truthful to be a child?
I was standing at a self service checkout in a shop today with 6 computerised machines barking instruction at me in a mad frenzy of words. It felt as if there were too many words. I still believe there are too many words. Information, instruction, direction, opinion. None of that is truth or understanding. Much of it is detritus. Art makes beauty out of detritus.
You know Stephen, I was just telling my brother-in-law today that reading theology is a mystical experience for me. The words, the words, the deep, rich, meaning-FULL words cause my soul to literally Worship and Adore my God, my Creator, my Father, my Spouse. Spiritual reading, of the intellectual kind, completely energizes me and leaves me resting in a euphoric state of wonder and awe and love.
If I were to see my spiritual path as a yoga then it would certainly be Jnana.
And yet not all knowledge, all theology, all words are equal. It has taken me a long, long time to find the words, the theology, that takes me to my very core, the Ground of my Being. There have been good words along the way, words that have drawn me, pointed me beyond themselves to words that were better, truer, deeper...
The Universal Word, The Universal Church.
But again, I turn to Thomas Aquinas...God affirmed his words on a number of occasions, told Thomas that he wrote well of the Divine Word...in the end even his words were straw, not because they weren't true, he never abandoned his words, but eventually they gave way to the True Word, where words are forever inadequate.
St. Thomas Pray for Me...
words that give Life,
for words that draw me into love,
for Love beyond words.
Ok, I may have lost my critical thinking skills altogether, but in what way are these aspects of consciousness spiritual, as opposed to merely intellectual? Or is it more our awareness of these aspects of consciousness that manifests a spiritual nature, according to Christian theology? Why then is that level of self awareness defined as "spirit", something animals don't have supposedly, as opposed to simply more evolved mental faculties?
I tried reading Aquinas tonight. I had to put it down. Heavy, obtuse, a phaffing around with words. How can anybody come to the truth that way. It's never ending theorising. I'll stick to experience and my right brain. God made me so. I'll stick with the heart.This message has been edited. Last edited by: samson,
The intellect is a faculty of the spiritual soul. Intellect is not simply a product of evolution. When God infused Adam and Eve with a Spirirual Soul they gained the very things that separate us from the animals to this day...things like intellect, imagination and will...these are faculties of Spirit...that is why angels have these faculties and lizards don't.
I agree, Aquinas writes in a way that is difficult to take in, but I think that is true even of more poetic or mystical writers of the past...modern scholars do a great job of explaining Thomas in a modern form that is more accesible and easily apprehended.
I don't see why not? Is God adding a bit when the first humans emerge, rather than allowing things to evolve naturally? And why should the term "spirit" be reserved for or understood in a specifically Christian way? Why also should what we believe be guided by a way of thinking that is unnatural to me, regardless of modern interpreters. It seems more persuasive that my created gifts should be able and allowed to understand and form truth in their own unique way. I apprehend truth intuitively. Perhaps we should leave it though. I was tough on Thomas because I was tired and frustrated. I didn't mean to slight him or you, Jacques. Sorry.
No slight at all Stephen, I don't have time to respond more now...perhaps on Monday have a good weekend my friend.
To me spirit is the pure consciousness of the lifeforce which gives rise to self reflection, thought and experience in man, instinctual awareness in animals, atomic awareness in minerals and something more mysterious in plants. A collective awareness also emerges in humanity and what might be called a collective totemic awareness in different species of animals. At the level of spirit all this awareness unites and is constantly resting in God the Creator. Man's evolved self reflection leads to a sense of separation from God and thereby sin, which Christ came to redeem in every soul. Maybe not orthodoxy, but I'll take it.
I need to leave it there and devote my energies to my own writing, but I'll try and drop in to see if this leads anywhere some time next week.
Right, now off to get ready for a lovely Indian curry with my rector and church friends.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jacques:
But there is another side to this coin – just as we are born and grow to maturity in the New Life, so we die with Christ at Baptism and then allow that death to seep through our sinful nature until finally the entire sinful man is dead. Both the growth in life and the growth in death are processes – both of which find fulfillment only after the death of the body."
Here in lies my perhaps misunderstanding of Catholic beliefs. I find myself wanting to know more about redemption, the Risen Christ.
The Unitive Life, & less about suffering for
Does one ever live in the Risen Christ or Resurrected Christ? It sounds like one can visit this place but never live here with Christ until one is physically dead. If I am correct in my understanding then I am
heading towards agreeing more with non-dual teachings & will go no further with this.
On further thought non-dual isn't the right word. It's more like Divinization or Christification " I live no longer I, but Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20. A participation in the Mystery of
the Trinitarian Life.
I'm sure much has already been said about this
on the list I'll check it out at a later time.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Mary Sue,
Mary Sue, this is exactly what I was trying to say, that as we die to sin, we are simultaneously Divinized.
I bet if I ask you whether you have currently overcome ever sin in your life, you would say no. Just as we all struggle with sin until we die, so we are all moving deeper and deeper in the Divinization process until we die. As St. Peter says in the scriptures, "we are moving from one degree of glory to the next"...deeper and deeper in participation in the Mystery of the Trinitarian Life.
The Beautific Vision is the culmination of this process, and only happens after death because it is too much for us to handle this side of the grave...it would literally kill us...perhaps the very doorway to death is the moment in which some saints experience the beatific vision?
This experience, the Beatific Vision, is unlike anything that any human being has ever experienced this side of the grave...
It is seeing God, and knowing God in the same way that God sees you and knows you...now think about that for a minute...you are finite and God knows you completely...but God is infinite and you will know Him as He is in Himself...
St. Moses was told that it was not possible to see God in this way (i.e. face to face) as it would kill him. St. Paul tells us that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has the imagination conceived, of the reality of FULL participation in the Divine Life, which we call the Beatific Vision.
Redemptive Suffering, Participation in the Suffering of Christ, Dying to Self, Bearing your Cross, Making up in your body what is lacking in the Suffering of Christ, Mortifying the flesh...these are all biblical metaphors and images of the death of the Old Self as you come to participate in the Life of the Trinity...
Participation in the Life of the Trinity is the other side of the coin...Receiving a New Heart of Flesh, Rising with Christ, Divinization, Made a New Creature, Supernatural Adoption, the Beatific Vision...this is the New Life of the Christian in Communion with Christ...a son, or daughter of God in the the Son of God, participating with the Son, through the Spirit, as He cries out 'Abba Father'
Good responses, Jacques.
Mary Sue, what are you reading? For info on Catholicism, why not go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church? It's online, and is a superb source of teaching about Christianity, including the uniquely Catholic aspects.
You might also consider Jn. 10:10 and related passages.
Stephen, this is closer to Sri Aurbindo than traditional Christian thinking about human spiritual consciousness, but what strikes me most is the "To me. . ." preface. I wonder if the existing Christian tradition of doctrine on creation, human nature, fall, grace, redemption, etc. has any substantive meaning for you, or if you think that you, as a Christian, have any duty to be in dialogue with our (including yours, btw) body of teaching? I've seen little evidence of this in your exchanges with me, Pop and Jacques. It always comes down to your experience and opinion, which you consider as valid as Christian doctrine -- teachings you seem to regard with great distrust and cynicism. If I'm right about this (and I stand to be corrected), there's really not much point in dialoguing with you about all this. You have made your experience and opinion to be the highest authority in matters of dialogue, discounting what most Christians recognize to be the working of the Holy Spirit in the Church's struggle to grapple with issues of truth.
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