Capital from Villelongue
Photograph by the author
Impressions flow into us constantly, and if we are not aware of ourselves, this conscious action, which is the coarse material of consciousness, cannot be refined into a greater understanding of Being.
That only takes place if all three of our parts participate in the flow of impressions, both inwardly and outwardly. So when we think of Christ as the one that prepares a place for us, we could think of him in terms of the holy Trinity: thinking, sensing, feeling. Christ is a whole man. Christ is not an event that took place in the past for historical personage in this sense; Christ is an immediate force that dwells within us now.
We forget the immediacy of this action. In fact, we are so glued to literal interpretations of biblical psychospiritual teachings — so “sophisticated” in our own supposedly “thinking” — that we overlook the immediate question of consciousness as a residence for Being, and the three centered force that can potentially help us become aware of it. I think that the peoples, both secular and ecclesiastic, of the middle ages had a much more accepting attitude towards Christ as a force that is active within us now, rather than an invoked abstraction.
Consciousness, in this sense, is a place where the soul lives, and that place ought to be a comfortable place for our awareness to rest. As with home invasion, forced entry will not bring good results; we cannot cheat or argue our way into a home we wish to live in. Perhaps one can rent or buy; but one has to gather enough money to make a down payment. There is the outside chance that we will just be invited in, but counting on anything for free is a mistake. We are to approach this residence which is offered to us with great respect, understanding its value, and cherishing the opportunity to be within it; because if we handle this properly, it is a safe place to live.
Readers are encouraged to think about Matthew 7, in which Christ lists a set of behaviors which are, each of them, actions of awareness— a capacity to intelligently weigh one’s position and action in light of truth— and then likens it to building one’s house “upon a rock.” The point is that the parts we are given within, the Trinity of intelligence, sensation, and feeling, have the capacity to create a residence for the soul which is safe — built on a rock.
The rains come in with them floods, the wind speed upon the house, but it stands. These are clearly references to Meister Eckhart’s Gleichgültigkeit— all things being equal. Consciousness experiences all of the slings and arrows of life, yet with awareness comes an indifference to them: the capacity to remain within one’s residence in safety, no matter how much the outer world may batter us.
It may seem like a reach to claim that our impressions and memories can blend in such a way to create a place of this kind; yet the fact is that the “coarse”materials of our being, all of the impressions and memories we have taken over the course of a lifetime, have the capacity to undergo a refinement, a distillation, whereby they grow a set of inner rootlets or tendrils which are of very quality indeed, so fine that the forces that connect them are actually vibrations of a molecular nature. As this network of awareness grows within Being, we discover that what we thought was consciousness is merely a place where our true Being lives.
What that true Being consists of is a question for further exploration.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.