RE: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Apr 06 2003 - 23:36:43 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "MD FW: 'unmediated experience'"

    Rick, Sam and all:

    It seems quite incongruous to use the name 'God' to signify THAT which we
    experience immediately, before thought has sundered it into a world of
    things. This may be what Hindus mean by 'Brahmin' and Buddhists by 'Tathata'
    (that-ness), but it is certainly not what the majority of thoughtful
    Christians have understood as God the Father.

    'that which we experience immediately' sounds very much how Pirsig describes

    DMB says:
    Yes, exactly. Thank you very much. And the sundered world is the world of
    static patterns, of things. I'd say this equation is at the heart of the
    MOQ. How does Pirsig put it? When Dynamic Quality is associtated with
    religious mysticism, its produces an avalanche of information as to what DQ
    is. (That's only a paraphrase from memory, but it is true to the actual
    quote in Lila.) I realize that neither Hinduism nor Buddhism is synonymous
    with religious mysticism, but all lack an attachment to that 'God the
    Father' image and share instead this idea of a direct, unmediated experience
    that we find in the MOQ. (The perennial philosophy, which was ancient to the
    ancients, expresses this too.) I think immediate and unmediated mean the
    same thing, and 'unmediated' is used only to make sure the reader avoids the
    misconception that we're merely talking about how quickly something takes
    place. Plus it makes a nice, neat duality with 'mediated'.

    If I could offer an alternative to Sam's formulation, that DQ is an aspect
    of God, I'd say that DQ and God are two metaphors that refer to the same
    mystery. As the Campbell quote and my comments, hopefully, make plain, this
    is not a problem unless the religion's metaphors have been taken as actual
    descriptions of actual things. That's when the incongruities appear. That's
    when it becomes difficult to say DQ and God are both reference to Brahmin.

    Like the 'affect images" used to described how a living mythological symbol
    evokes in us an immediate response, metaphors for God are not concepts to be
    understood by the intellect, but are a reference to an ineffable realization
    that occurs during an ineffable experience. One of the main features of a
    mystical experience is what's called it's "noetic quality", which is to say
    one walks away from the experience with the distinct feeling that one now
    KNOWS something about reality. There are degrees of realization, but the one
    at the top exposes one to the realization that reality is undivided and that
    you are that reality. There is no distinction between you and God. Thou art
    that. And the idea of striking responsive chords in a living mythological
    system, is to point the participant toward this realization, either step by
    step, or in the case of mystery religions and peyote ceremonies, a
    full-blown mystical experience is evoked all at once.

    One more note on this idea....

    I don't mean to suggest that Christianity fails to express this same core,
    mystical version of the divine, its just tough to see it. Its been obscured
    by the literalisms and such that we've been discussing. Its been covered
    over and buried, but as is the case with all religions, it too reflects the
    DQ that created it. Stripped of any doctrines, statements like "I and the
    Father are one" are transformed from meaning two thirds of the trinity, to a
    declaration the reality is undivided. "My kingdom is not of this world"
    becomes a rejection of the belief that the sundered world of things is
    reality. Atonement looses its moralistic overtones and also says the world
    is undivided; At-One-ment. The five piercings of the Christ are not just
    wounds for us to pity, but symbols of the five senses the keep us attached
    to the static, sundered world, which is death.

    Campbell tells a story about a time he took a sauna with a Bishop. No, wait.
    Maybe it was a cardinal in a hot tub. Or was the Pope in a bubble-bath? In
    any case, as you might have predicted, they had an informal conversation
    about God. The conversation went something like this. As Campbell put it,
    the man "had the sense" to ask about a PERSONAL god, which I think we can
    safely take to mean that 'God the Father' image.

    Do you believe in a personal God, Dr. Campbell?

    No, Father. My intellect will not allow it.

    Ah. That is where we need faith, my son.

    I don't need faith, Father. I have experience.

    The sudsy pontiff said nothing more.

    Thanks for your time,

    FAITH - Noun: 1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of
    a person, idea, or thing. 2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or
    material evidence. See synonyms at belief. , trust. 3. Loyalty to a person
    or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters. 4. often Faith
    Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a
    trusting acceptance of God's will. 5. The body of dogma of a religion: the
    Muslim faith. 6. A set of principles or beliefs.

    FAITH is believing what you know ain't so.

    SECTARIAN adj. 1.) Of or pertaining to sectaries or sects. 2.) narrowly
    confined or devoted to a particular sect. 3.) narrowly confined or limited
    in interest, purpose, scope, etc. -noun 4.) a member of a sect. 5.) a
    bigoted or narow-minded adherent of a sect.

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