We are now up to 12 participants, though few have been set up for the discussion forum. Nevertheless, I will keep this option for participation going throughout.
Please post your questions or comments about chapter 2 on this discussion thread. You can also bring them to the videocast this coming Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. CDT. Hope to see you there.
I may not be able to attend the session live this evening but I want to include some initial thoughts in these forums.
I really enjoyed this chapter. I found the six-category organizational principle helpful. It raises a number of interesting questions for which I certainly do not have the answers but which will provide a lot of food for contemplation in the future.
1. If Table 1 has six levels of consciousness that have evolved over time and if God exists at the level of infinite consciousness, could there exist beings at intermediate levels of consciousness such as aliens or a future evolving humanity? [Note: angels would not be included as they are not embodied beings]
2. If the answer to the above questions is yes, what are the next levels of the evolution of the consciousness? [As Phil knows, this is an area I am fascinated with due to the influence that Teilhard de Chardin has had on my thought. Thank you for the Teilhard reference in footnote 7 :-)]
3. On page 22 (point 4) you stated "Damage to a lower level impedes the expression of a higher through it". That rings true in a basic sense with the example you provide. However, the interaction of the health among the six levels is an interesting one. For example, it is possible for some physical damage to the physiological level (e.g. paraplegic) enhance the development at a psychological or spiritual level (it can certainly have a negative effect also). In my own situation, I believe that some psychological injuries that I incurred have enhanced my spiritual development.
4. Similarly, can the health status of the higher levels can have effects on the health status of lower levels? For example, can someone with a "sick" spiritual state also have manifestations of illness at the psychological and physiological levels. In my own situation, as I have begun my spiritual healing, I have found an increase in health of my psyche (or at least I believe I am :-).
5. Following up on the above comments, your point 6 on page 22 that "Overly intensifying activities at one level diminishes manifestation through others" rings true and argues for a wholistic approach for developing the person through prayer, nutrition, exercise and developing strong personal relationships?
6. If "lower levels are foundational for the higher ones" what happens when we die? Do the spirit (and psyche?) components detach? [Perhaps the model is only useful while we exist in the material world as it does not encompass angels.
7. The statement that "self is most evident during periods of non-reflecting, non-intentional consciousness" is interesting. My spiritual development is likely far behind most if not all of the other participants but I am not quite sure I understand the question. I have on rare occasion experienced the feeling that I am audience member viewing a play at which I am also an actor. I was connected to myself as the actor but this connection was not noticeably stronger then the connection I had to the other actors. This has happened in when I was in a non-intentional state of radical detachment, without deep thoughts or feelings. Is this type of experience what you are referring to? What exactly is happening?
I would love to hear the thoughts of Phil and I others to my sometimes rambling thoughts. Thank you again for a wonderful program.
I enjoyed your "rambling thoughts," Greg, and will get back to you later today, I hope. Anyone else, feel free to chime in, of course.
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Videoconference 2 is published to youtube.
Greg, I'll respond to your points by number below.
1. Sure, there could be higher levels between the human and God. As you know from your interest in Teilhard, he projected a level called Omega point toward which the human is tending. This is still a human level, but also one that participates more fully in divinity.
2. I think I touched on this above.
3. I agree that sometimes we compensate for damage in a lower level by shifting our attention to others. But the main point, here, is that a higher cannot manifest through the damaged aspect of the lower. I should have probably made that more explicit.
4. Oh, yes indeed. Sometimes it is improving spiritual and psychological health, for example, that moves us to finally get serious about a healthy diet and exercise. The influences can run in all directions, bottom-up and top-down.
5. Absolutely. We can really overdo it at any level, including spiritual. So, a wholistic, balanced approach to life is best.
6. The body is foundational for life on earth, and so when it becomes too damaged to sustain life, it can no longer serve as our "bio-spacesuit." Then, yes, what we believe happens is that the other levels detach and move on, though in a somewhat metaphysically deficient situation, as the human spirit is oriented toward life in a body. That's one reason why belief in the resurrection of the body makes sense. Then we would be fully whole again, with a new body more accommodated to life in the Spirit.
7. Hopefully, the videocast will clarify this somewhat. But I think you're onto what I mean by non-reflecting consciousness in your comments about being an audience member of your own play. NRC is that background witnessing, observational consciousness that is always "there" through any and all manner of movements of our consciousness. It's so utterly simple that we just don't ever notice it, but there it is: our innate subjectivity -- a "given" of human experience.
Thank you very much for the replies. I am looking forward to watching the video this weekend!
Dear Greg. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading them. I too wasn't available for the 2nd videocast so I watched it on youtube this morning and enjoyed it.Thanks Phil for posting it on youtube Pt 1 referring to beings at intermediate levels of consciousness such as evolving humans or aliens is an interesting thought. Where can I read more about this? I would agree with your 4th point Greg that the different components of health do effect each other. If one is anxious (psyche) it can have a negative effect on the body. But if one practices self awareness and meditation(spirit) it can have a positive effect on psyche and body. Good point. Also Thanks phil for comments as well.
I do however have a question for Phil and others pertaining to chap 2. How is intelligence spiritual? Until reading your manuscript I had no idea that intelligence was in the realm of the spiritual. This was new learning for me. Can you explain this further or refer me to some good reading on the subject.
Thankyou and Peace!
What I was meaning to say is that with humans, intelligence is enspirited and so it is a "spiritual intelligence." I was not meaning to use the term intelligence in an exclusive sense with respect to humans. Dogs and cats, for example, can learn to adapt themselves to circumstances; my "outside cat," Captain, knows exactly where his food dish is, and if I move it, it doesn't take him long to find it. He comes when I call, which is also a kind of learning.
The term, intellect, was traditionally used in reference to human spiritual intelligence. This would include reason in its deductive and inductive activities, and even intuition, our first grasp of a truth. It's considered spiritual because it can form conceptions that go beyond senory information (justice, goodness, human-ness, etc.) and project possible consequences into the future. Higher level mathemmatics is a pure example of intellectual operation, as is systemmatic theology.
Intellect, will and self-awareness are not separate, but we can "lean" more into one or the other, at times. I touched on that in the chapter very briefly.
See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08066a.htm for a more in-depth discussion of the intellect. If you scroll down to "The common doctrine" section, you'll find some good information.
Thank you Phil. That helps. I just borrowed the book Lonergan and Spirituality by Dunne from the abbey library.You referred to this book in your footnotes. I am beginning to understand abit. I guess I thought spirtual(the soul) was the part of us humans that connects with the divine and intelligence was part of the mind or cognitive part of our brain.
Thanks for the link to newadvent. I will check it out.
Thank you Pam and Phil for the addition conversation and insights. It is very helpful. Also, I finished reading Chapter 3 and I have a much better understanding of Chapter 2. For anyone just starting, I would recommend reading the first three Chapters together as they are very interrelated.
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