I reduce my self to a mechanical functioning in my reliance on use of analysis, psychology and/or reference to external, rational or literal ways of being in the world. Being raised as a child in this way began at an early age. Consequences of this is that constructs a boundary of separation from a deeper truth of personhood.
Its not easy to grasp what Corbin is saying from this brief description but from a larger context it seems to be that he is indicating that an emphasis on the direct experience of self is something that is often lost in our conditioning. Conventional reflection and expression of our experience is most often a reduction of that experience and is limited in capturing the essence of being human. Art and poetry can be a more reflective way of expression that seem to be better suited to amplify what is in our inner depths, however; not all of us have the power or had the experience of grace to step beyond our cultural, historical constraints and to connect with what is within and to allow that to become the creative source of realization, self discovery and the intimate expression of what is authentic of us. But we always have the opportunity to return to a more natural and authentic place of relating to the world where we can again experience a sense of revitalization that we have not known from ego dominated existence but perhaps that we have known in childhood.
Corbin use of the symbol of the angel is not meant to be literally interpreted here.
From ” All the World an Icon: Henry Corbin and the Angelic Function of Beings” by Tom Cheetham.
“For Corbin, the Person is the first and final reality. This is not idealism, nor realism, nor materialism, and certainly not historicism, but rather “personalism.” The person “can neither be deduced nor explained.” He writes, “Hermeneutics as science of the individual stands in opposition to historical dialectics as alienation of the person.” But the person, the human individual, must then not be reducible to history or sociology, genetics or physiology, or”indeed any subsidiary aspect of reality. The individual can only be amplified, not reduced, and the locus of the amplification toward which the person is to be raised is the celestial, eternal counterpart, the partner in heaven, the archetype of each of us that guarantees the possibility of our eternal individuality—the locus, the telos of that spiritual motion is the Angel.
We live in a world where all of our needs are taken care of except, perhaps, the sense that there is “purpose” and or “meaning” in our lives. Could it be that I am being misled in that extreme focus on fulfilling my needs and that something is lost in that fixation to do so. There seems to be limited belief that there are other choices other than conventional norms. Are we blinded in that. Are we missing some of the more concerning consequences of our conditioned pursuit, that take us away from ourselves in ways we no longer understand? Is this all perpetuated by our modern assumptions that perpetuare an even more fragmented perception?
It is my conclusion that I have sacrificed something of my essence of being human in adopting such a traditional, dualistic way of thinking and that present day environmental and global crisis are a collective consequence of this. Something fundamental of myself, that involves a deeper awareness of my connection to everything else has been compromised in this, Is it possible to function in an authentic way if this is so? How can I discover true meaning and purpose when something if me is lost in such a way?
Its not that I must abandon my a dualistic functioning and the perceptions that are part of it but that I recognize the limitations in utilizing it. I can make choices about when it is useful and when it is not. Dualistic thinking in its ability to reduce the object of focus to perceived parts may not be able to grasp what is considered to be a more whole phenomenon, an example being our “human essence”. Henry Corbin writes “Our spiritual cosmos is so liable to be shattered into fragments at the contact of material or ideological advances fed from other sources.” We are somewhat constrained by the cognitive limitations of mind, however not by the evolutionary potential. Dualistic thinking involves seeing in fragments but quite likely, it is not the ultimate end in the evolution of mind. A way forward seems to be stirring as we open our minds to this realization and that it has been, and remains, a useful tool, however; our conclusions reached in this way are just one particular fragment; one way of seeing
To continue to look for resolution without more comprehensive insight is to perpetuate more of the same problems. Resolution of this might involve the realization that we might not be able to see with clarity what it is that is essential to our global unfolding from a dualistic point of reference. Another is that we seem to be, so very, unaware of the unseen consequences of our dualistic thinking which, as well, contribute to a barrier in finding meaning and purpose in living.
I am reading the book “All the World an Icon: Henry Corbin and the Angelic Function of Beings” by Tom Cheetham and wanted to share this quote. He talks here about how our interpretations and perceptions are being influenced by preconscious thought. My impression is that dualistic consciousness is the predominant influence but as we open to a more universal energy our consciousness changes and in turn so do our perceptions and assumptions.
“This relation defines what is known in Western philosophy as the “hermeneutic circle.” This is the idea that in the interpretation of a text, the meaning of any one part can”only be understood by referring to the whole. In Heidegger’s hermeneutic analysis of human existence, it came to include the notion that any understanding of the world at all is based on the fact that we are always already in the world and so have a kind of preconscious grasp of how things are revealed to us before we ever “interpret” them.”
For me, opening to this quality of awareness and the realization of how it affects human thinking and relates to our very human theories, hypothesis and other formulations and as well our to attempts to find meaning and interpretations of reality allows for a shift in the foundation of consciousness.
Human creativity is incredibly suited to explore and develop new ways of seeing but when we grasp on to any one way as an ideological ultimate we close ourselves off from other perspectives. In an ever changing world fixed perceptions seem to have immense limitations.
The consequences of being trapped in a sense of being wounded is a-self-idolatry that is immense. There is in that, a setting of myself apart from the eternally active source of being where I come to stop at myself and remain, for a time, motionless in a stupor.
Spirituality has come to mean something different than it once did for me. I now see it to involve the shedding of a mirage that has been the source of my being trapped. I have no method or practice that I embrace or a sense of knowing something special. Its been more of a hit and miss, trial and error exploration focused on discovering something more authentic than I have known. Its not been an exercise in self perfection. If anything I have come to accept and be at ease with my limitations and imperfection.
In that process I have come to discern a distinction between being wounded and being vulnerable. That shift towards awareness of the latter seems to be where the self falls away and compassion arises. I still have a sense of being wounded that contributes to a sense of being isolated at times that seems to be constantly revealing itself and contributes to a gradual unfolding where there is a witnessing that enables me to see more clearly, my humanity; the mystery and the wildness that is a part of that. It is not always accessible, but I am clearer these days how it is that I might open to graceful revelation, where lay the beauty, wonder and mystery of life.
I had a dream last night in which I relived a situation from my youth. Shame and humiliation caused me to cower and isolate into a fantasy as a way of finding relief from that. It was a not such an unusual experience of those youthful years. I also met with some old friends this past week and it triggered similar emotions and than I heard on CBC that the word nostalgia in Greek literally means “the pain from old wounds” and I realized that I am still functioning from that place at times. There is something of me that has been extremely invested in not confronting or even acknowledging this reality.
I am seeing more clearly that I have been under the influence of this wounded sense of self and I am beginning to realize that I lived so many of those years with a looming sense of immense fear, shame and humiliation. It probably had something to do with my Irish Catholic upbringing. Most of how I acted was a matter of coping with that, in efforts to escape in fantasy at times and/or or in a need of covering it over in some way
I think that those underlying feelings continued to be an unseen influence in how I have acted even into recent times, contributing to a meanness or insensitivity or impatience in my interactions with others. I only hope that my insights can bring some relief and allow me to relate to others from a place not so obsessed with my own woundedness and possibly with more compassion and care.
There is something about seeing more deeply into nostalgic feelings. And coming to acceptance of the wounded reality and this sense of being vulnerable that allows for a more compassionate response to life situations. As well, I feel the urge to apologize to those I have hurt because I feel that most everything I have been and done has been rooted in ignorance. That’s all that I can be sure of.
I am driven at times by a subtle urge to search for something that I am not so clearly aware of. Maybe it is simply an endlessly arising curiosity, without intent to resolve anything specific. But it most certainly seems at times that something is amiss.
In my 65th year, there is something of me that is easily tired, that desires comfort and ease in life more than I used to. But it quickly becomes clear that this does not bring satisfaction and the urge to be engaged in the natural mystery of life calls me back.. The impulse to turn to what nature offers is more influential than ever.
I am more in need of rest and contemplation these days but I utilize those moments to engage in a meditative, contemplative experience and not in resorting to busyness to distract me as I once did. Its not satisfying enough to be complacently engaged in meaningless activity which seems to serve more as a distraction from conscious awareness. The contemplative life that I have nurtured makes complacency difficult. I am constantly brought back to presence. There is as well the increased ongoing awareness of human folly and destructiveness of ego oriented perception, actions and solutions to problems. I am overwhelmingly aware at times of how humans have come to live fragmented lives and the toll it has taken on other species and the planet.
Increasingly I realize that destructive consequences seem to be a result of a separation from self and simultaneously from nature and much of my focus is about reconnecting to what I have forgotten of that. There seems to be a compassion and caring that emanates from fostering that connection however slowly and apprehensively I embrace it. Its the intensification in sensitivity and sense of vulnerability that arises with this that is somewhat unbearable at times. At other times when I allow myself to settle into it I am enabled to realize what it is that has been missing.
I write in a way of generality knowing well that the process of individuation is unique for all.
We are something of both an individual and something deeper that is a part of our essence. It is something not of a concrete quality or easily conceptualized that we have all originated from. We are not so conscious of it in modern times, having somehow become something which has forgotten that deeper truth of what we are; however, much it is part of our being.
Henry Corbin’s writes about the idea of the “angel” that plays a role in the unfolding of our conscious experience. He writes about “Eternal Time” as a personal Figure, a celestial counterpart that completes and grants Eternity to the earthly soul, and appears in epiphanies that are, as he puts it, “each time unique”. “This idea makes possible a simultaneity of divine unity and divine plurality which avoids the simplest dilemma between monotheism and polytheism. The earthly soul meets its Angel on the road in an act of rigorous and irreplaceable individuation of that divine presence. To lose that deeper dimension is to lose an angel.”
At times we realize that something is amiss in our lives. Somehow touching and connecting with something that lay more deeply, an inseparable part of us, that in our fragmented focus and modern and cultural thinking we have lost awareness of, can lead us towards a more comprehensive individuation. We are something of both an individual and that something that is ineffable, that has existed prior to the arrival and ability of words to iilluminate, that is of our collective essence. Henry Corbin refers to that graceful process of reconnecting to our nature as being led by an angel.