Sunday, September 29, 2013

The psyche and the long time scale

Because we're in the habit of separating scientific and religious questions from one another in the present age, we don't seem to understand that they are deeply tied to one another.

Anything that has biological roots has spiritual roots; and anything with spiritual roots has biological ones. The natural world is, in reality, a reflection of the spiritual one; a world of correspondences which exist as separate entities, but can never be fully separated.

So the existence of the long scale of time in the natural world, which is an inevitable consequence of physics and the flow of time, has its mirror in the psychic world of man, who was equipped to serve as a bridge between the two realms.

 The psyche of man needs myth, an understanding of the cyclical nature of time, life, and Being, and an understanding of the concept of recurrence — the repeating of events over geologic time — in order to attune itself to the fact that it is not alone and can never stand alone. Human beings exist as much as a quality as a species — the quality of knowing, the quality of understanding, the quality of awareness. This is an essential quality of the universe, but it only reaches an expression of understanding at the level of man. At the levels below us, awareness is much more limited.

Man has to be made aware of his existence through the long timescale in order for him to have an respect and appreciation for where he is now. If man only cares about the present, he acts heedlessly and without regard for the future. We can see this from the development of modern society and the damage it's inflicting to both the human psyche, culture, civilization, and the planet itself. Short-term thinking, short attention spans, the distraction of the understanding of cycles, leads human beings directly into a repetitive process of destructive acts that lead to short-term gain and long-term loss.

The examination of this question so far has told us something about the way that myth and religious understanding affect the relationship between man's natural, or physical, body and the natural world. but there is also an inner question related to timescales we need to examine here.

Man's psyche evolved, in its "perfect" state, to be in full relationship with God. Both Ibn Arabi and Swedenborg, standard fixtures in this blog,  have a good deal to say about that. What this means, in the standard terminology of Zen Buddhism and modern esoteric practice, is to "be in the moment," or to have an attention of the immediate, as Jeanne de Salzmann taught.

 This kind of awareness does represent a certain form of perfection, and an inner freedom, but it does not exist independent of the long timescale within a human being, that is, in terms of the inner life. The more closely aligned attention is with the immediate, the more the inner life ultimately aligns with the presence of God and not just the intention, but the actual inability, of doing things that have a negative effect on the long timescale.

This is a very different relationship than the outer relationship, where material physical reminders (meaning, in this case, myth and religion, which may seem ephemeral, but are actually material manifestations) are necessary. In the inner arrangement of the immediate and the long time scale, we encounter the instantaneous intersection of personhood (the proximal manifestation of God) and divinity (the distal manifestation of God.) That is to say, God is both right here, and everywhere. This simple phrase is the elastic version of the immediate and long timescale, in their ultimate expression.

 This union of what appear to be opposites brings man into a state where the contradictions of the immediate and the extended nature of reality no longer oppose one another.

 We have to consider these questions because the experience of the soul, of the inner Being, in the course of day-to-day life in the physical body is one separated from the long timescale, and yet the natural habitat of the soul is, of course, the long timescale in its entirety.

Ancient Egyptian practices surrounding the question and nature of eternity are closely related to this idea. This society had an acute awareness and understanding of the long timescale, which informed its nature for thousands of years before it was finally forgotten and destroyed.

May your soul be filled with light.

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