Thursday, July 01, 2010

An open inquiry ....
This is an answer to a question about whether or not I believe in a "Divine Presence" The writing hits the ground running so to speak.

....Such a plaintive question this. Taints of j'accuse attend the silence of those who cannot answer directly, w/out hesitation, on whether or not they believe in a provident God who listens to our prayers and sometimes intercedes in our favor. Yes, I guess I have to say if pushed into the docket of social judgement for a single yes or no. Yes, but perhaps not a provident divinity that is cognizant of my every thought and deed and who keeps an account of these things for some future time of reckoning.... A Deist maybe. Not sure. No category claims my thoughts on the matter as they are so uncharted by spoken or written language.
I do feel, however, that there is something divine in the very notion that we are even contemplating the idea of divinity itself; That this sublime contemplation could be the God force w/in us in the act of self reflection; that the great works of art in music, literature, painting,science, theology, philosophy, drama and dance try to comprehend and then manifest this force either in its horrors or its majesties seems a likely conduit to the spirit. How can one listen to Bach or view the Sistine chapel, read the sermon on the mount,the lyric prose of the Koran and not think some divine presence whispered in the ear of the artist?

For this reason, I would be more an agnostic than an atheist I guess. The maxim would go like this: "Cogito Ergo Cogitat Deus,(I think, therefore God thinks too). 500 years ago I'd have been put to the rack then burned for saying such things in these parts (and I know that I've lost many readers solely because of the previous sentence). Even today in some parts of the fundamentalists world, a drawing and quartering would be an adequate redress for such heresy.

Digressions aside, that we even contemplate the "space of mind" to wonder at all beyond the day to day exigencies of animal survival, is a benediction of sentience in itself. Regardless of whether we contemplate such things from w/ in the Christian, Islamic, Confucian tradition -whatever- it is still a wildly radical departure from the rest of the animal world that we dream of places from where we might have come and to where we, and the world, and the universe containing it are bound. Might these contemplations be the act of God coming to terms w/ creation in a conscious way? A manifest form of benediction through a pondering of the cosmos? Pourquoi pas?

However, as noble his quest was,there really is no such thing as the "tabla rasa" Descartes tried to establish. Except, perhaps at the dawn of our species becoming aware of his consciousness for the first time, millions of years ago, there can be no tabla rasa for the descending thousands of generations of which we are the latter day inheritors. If there is any original sin, this would be it to me: the culturally induced taint we are born into that assumes the veracity of much of the accepted beliefs that have come before the moment of our births. I suppose I take my lead from Thoreau and Emerson and much of the American Transcendental movement, but Spinoza really is one of my true heroes too. And we surely can't forget Jean Jacques Rousseau's noble savage either on these topics. All we can do is attempt to break a small deviation we call original thinking along the path of immense cultural inertia which we can not help but be absorbed in.

But, further,what is the driving force in our nature that compels such a drive to build belief systems in the form of the divine narrative- in this case the Bible or the Koran- that promises to deliver us from the mortal coil of death? Delivers us if we just believe in the glory of a God whose story was written by men still well steeped in the technology of the stone age???? . Indeed there is something of the questing spirit w/ eyes turned toward the butterfly nebula, that asks these questions and has asked these questions since long before the stone circles of Stonehenge were built. Like ants build ant hills, this is what we do.

That you and I are having this discussion at this time on facebook, in this way, is closer to the spirit world than the transubstantiation of the body of Christ into the ritual of communion seems me. This ritual was incorporated into the Christ story nearly 2,000 years ago by a group of church fathers so that men could transmute the temporal trappings of the flesh, w/ all its pains and failings, with the notion of the flesh of a God made incarnate in the flesh of the messiah. . But this is just my belief system, as fraught w/ bias as any other I suppose.

Tell me,do whales or starfish or wolves contemplate such abstract projections on the heavens,or where in the past they come from, and to where they are bound after the sun consumes the planet? The very fact that we can be assured through the tool of science that the sun will consume the earth in some remote time hence, is something divine. That this deductive "mind" transcends the ancient mind that has cast so much dogma into iconographic symbols like the torture device of the christian cross for example. This religious legacy is like a millstone we are still lugging around, so full of its guilts and byzantine dark age rubrics, though this is a terribly biased statement of mine as well.

There simply is no escape from the trappings of culture or the developments of the individual mind to come to some terminus of truth. There is no process that begins with the uncontaminated purity of the tabla rasa. This is why certain belief systems, must, by necessity, become dogmatic in order to survive. There must be certainty in order to ensure continuity. Socrates said this: "There is but one thing that I know for sure and that is that I know nothing." Gotta like that stance. So, as for me, the only thing to come way knowing for sure is the vast universe of ignorance into which we must wade each day until our last breath infuses these thoughts blowing around in the gourd we call mind.

And yet behold this: As far as we can fathom within our ken, this flesh in the gourd we call "mind" is the single most complicated and intricate piece of wonderment in the known universe. The act of the thing itself contemplating its own "miracle" is a form of empirical mysticism seems me. 2 opposing concepts you might protest: empirical and mystic. But I think these terms lie in exquisite equipoise on either side of the equation. The miracle w/out is only reflected by the miracle w/in. So, the butterfly nebula caught by Hubble in its resplendent beauty, full winged across the universe trillions of miles away, is only reflected and beheld as "beauty" w/in the inner universe of the aesthetic mind w/ so many diverse "faiths" that keep it tethered both to the earth and to the stars.

. This is part of the pantheist unutterable creed.


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