The Imaginal Within The Cosmos: Commentaries on the Cosmic Christ (2)
As Teilhard put it:
"There is no point, here, in seeking a new name by which to designate
the super-eminent nature of that dependence, where all this is most flexible
in human combinations and all that is most intransigent in organic structures,
merge harmoniously in a moment of final incandescence. We will continue
to call it by the name that has always been used: *mystical union.*"
At first glance it seems obvious to me that Teilhard is moving into the realm of "soul," if you will. And I think these two above paragraphs are pointing towards an important consideration, in that perhaps we need to put "the horse before the cart." These days, there's a tendency to try to explain a completely physical convergence unto a viable noosphere. Hence we talk of not only cultural, social, and political cooperation, we also talk of global thought and global communication(s) lending towards the goal of the noosphere--that we oft call the Global Mind.
Only my opinion, but all these physical aspects are the "cart" that, yes, does carry us forth towards this great goal. But I submit that not only is this cart slow to move, it's upon many occasions fallen into deep ruts or has actually fallen backward. Alas, this last century has been a mix of great technological accomplishment and barbarous human perversity!
Something is seriously amiss...
It would seem that what is amiss is the "horse." Somewhere along the line it has jumped into the cart and allows itself to be carried along without much direction, allows itself upon occasion to be overwhelmed by the cart, and more and more seemingly allows itself to be discouraged and nearly broken by the cart that oft no longer serves as an adequate vehicle. Even the goal, approached helter-skelter, seems far in the distance, if not even lost. We are in sad times.
Now what's this horse? Is it the human spirit? Yes, certainly! But I believe the very essence of the horse is the human "soul." And can we deny that many humans living today hold much to a sense of soul. There are theological and philosophical arguments about the soul. There are psychological analyses of the soul. There are soul-deniers. And there are those who talk "soul," but really have little grip on what this might entail.
I think until we retrieve our sense of soul--and put it in its rightful position--this technological cart we have built will spin more wildly away from our goal, which is, as Teilhard put it, "the destination of our being."
The soul has been a subject matter in many cultures and their respective religions.
If one looks, one finds the soul a topic just about everywhere. Yet it would seem this long-held ancient intuition of soul has rapidly faded amongst people in our day, all over the world. It maybe never was terribly entrenched in individual minds anyway, more just a nebulous feeling or a desperate hope when our back is to the wall. Mostly it has been examined by theologians and philosophers, as a concept or as a vehicle to support a religious premise.
Nonetheless, I doubt this long held intuition of soul would have stuck around for so long if there had not been some kind of *special experience* to support it. Mostly, via our religions and philosophies, we have been content to let another person's experience (or sense) of soul suffice. And more recently the fading (and near demise) of soul has been prevalent in our modern societies. Hence the "horse" has lost its way, jumping into the "cart" of material explanations and material solutions when it comes to brain/mind, to communication, to technology, when it comes to convergence. And as all can see, as they look at this world we live in, a real convergence towards a noosphere has been painfully slow--if at all.
I submit that, really, we haven't even begun to realize ourselves as a *soul.* And, if we are to follow Teilhard's thought on convergence, about a mystical union with the Incarnate Word, working through to the level of the noosphere, and beyond to Omega, well we have to come to the realization that we are more than physicality, more than materiality, and have to somehow come to the recognition that we are a soul. Because it's only the soul--in Teilhard's thinking--that can really unite with the Incarnate Word, finally unto Omega. (The physical means towards convergence are only the tools we require to build the Earth's noosphere, but soul is first required to draw the cart in the correct direction. And I don't believe we have yet done this well.)
Now I long had been really ignorant of what "soul" might entail for me. Like many, it was a concept or a word mentioned occasionally in a church, or used as a threat when it came to sin and burning in Hell. The reality of soul was certainly not in the forefront of my life until...
When I was in my early 20s I had an Out-of-Body Experience (OBE). Though terribly frightened, nonetheless I realized that I was *conscious* of myself while outside of my body. The event so disturbed me that I went to a doctor, who no doubt put a black mark behind my name. Nonetheless, this OBE illustrated to me that there was some *essence* of my self that survived outside my body. Now at the time, there weren't all the publications on such experiences as the OBE or the NDE that's available today. So I didn't probe much into this experience. Rather I actually kept quiet about it, because back then one could be considered "strange" relating such events. Indeed, many even today are closed-minded about what we deem paranormal. Regardless, I had an OBE--and it instilled in me, experientially, the possibility that this business about the soul might have some foundation.
But what about soul-connection, this idea espoused by Christians, by Teilhard, about the "communion of souls/saints?" For me, I once again had to *experience* such a consideration if somehow I was to truly accept the thought. I'm not into blind faith. Well, out of tragic experience I came to the realization that--yes--there *is* a connection of souls, a communion of souls if you will.
Over the last dozen years I have lost my Beloved and my two very best friends to death. My Beloved died first. Struck dumb by this loss, I mourned for a long, long time. And during this mourning period I painfully realized that something *literally* had been torn out of the fabric of my life. Losing my friends, too, tore away more of this fabric. For a long time there was a lot of sadness, a sense of immeasurable loss.
But in due course, while recollecting special experiences and synchronous events related to these supposedly souls lost, I realized how utterly entwined we are with those souls we know and love--especially those we love!
Without recounting a lot more personal experience, I can only say that from my own experience I have come to *know* in my own heart that I have a soul and that souls are never lost. My Beloved, my friends seemingly gone, are souls that somehow are still connected to my soul in some unknown mysterious way. Maybe someday we humans might come to unlock the mystery of such. But I'm one human who does *know* (at least for myself) the reality of such.
I can truly say that with the death of my Beloved I had synchronistic experiences at first, and later a real sense of presence of his soul staying with me for a while. Indeed, once, a stranger in chapel came up to me one morning after prayer, and with some trepidation said that she didn't want me to think her crazy. She went on to say that she actually *saw* some kind of hazy presence hovering over me as I prayed for my Beloved, for help during my mourning period. I was somewhat taken aback, but I could tell she was indeed serious. The synchronistic events and the chapel incident, combined with a "leave-taking" dream concerning my Beloved, convinced me of the reality of soul.
But I'm only one soul. What of all the rest of us? How many have had such "soul experiences?" Some surely have, otherwise we wouldn't have such concepts as soul or ideas about a mystical union. But I contend we need to become more conscious of "soul" on a grander, greater scale if we are successfully to move towards a genuine noosphere such as Teilhard envisioned.
Yet soul-deniers, even good common-sense people, often "bosh" these kind of experiences. There was a time that I would have done the same myself. Mourning is a difficult period in a person's life, so feelings can run rampant. Even so, how to explain the synchronicity, how to explain another person--the stranger in chapel--becoming involved in this sense of the presence of my Beloved. There's no denying we are in the world of the "paranormal" when we experience such things; but, that doesn't mean we should outright deny such experiences.
Rather, I began to investigate these kind(s) of paranormal events of the sort I encountered. That's why I attended some sessions on the NDE--if not exactly an OBE--presented by clinicians associated with a reputable Medical School. And that's why I talked to psychologists who were collecting data (and publishing) on what they label "after death communication" (ADC). These days more scientists are examining paranormal activities, indeed at places like Princeton University's Anomalies Research Laboratory and the Psychology Department at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
And what about those "soul-soaring" experiences often mentioned by many people? Yes, it's these that are more close-up with us. Sometimes I almost feel fire coming out of my head when I am touched by extraordinarily beautiful music. There are times, too, when I experience a world suddenly gone silent. There isn't a sound, not a peep from birds, not a wisp of wind. It's as if Time has stopped. This kind of experience has been so intense for me that I have never forgot the occasions this happened to me.
Maybe these kind of experiences are those *points* when we touch Eternity.
And what of those mysteries that seem somehow lodged in our soul, such as our intuitive grasp of archetypes and abstractions? Long ago the philosopher Immanuel Kant talked of such "eternals" in this world--this inner world which we touch upon--that which is *a priori.* Indeed, even before Kant's consideration Pythagoras had pointed to the discovery that numbers, figures, and relations have a kind of reality of their own.
Considering mathematical abstractions Pythagoreans found that we could also think about shapes in the same way. Instead of thinking of particular pieces of land that were triangular in shape, we humans could think about *triangularity,* about any triangle, or any right triangle.
This "touching into Eternity" leads us to Plato, himself. Indeed as the philosopher J.V. Luce of Trinity College (Dublin) put it: "A Platonic Form is not a thought in someone's mind but something that exists per se as an immutable part of the structure of reality." Plato's world of Forms, then, is constituted by ideal objects or patterns, such as Beauty, Equality, Circularity, Health, and Justice. The Forms are invisible and intangible, and can only be apprehended by the mind after suitable preparation and training."
These Forms "exist externally, with a transcendent nature that sets them apart from our world, but by a process of *creation,* the visible world has been modeled after them, and their essential qualities are different down into the particular things that we teach and see."
And what of scientists in our own day? They may put it in other terms, but sometimes they do talk of "mysteries," of "eternals," of "soul."
Ervin Laszlo--a world-class science philosopher whose specialty is evolutionary
systems theory--put it that there is the possibility of what he terms
a "psi field," a psychic field. Comparing this psi field to gravitational
and electromagnetic fields, etc., it is here in which all individual experience
could be accumulated and deposited at the universal level. Laszlo stresses
that such a psi field would have to possess a "mental dimension." In essence,
this special "psi field" would represent the "mental dimension of the
Laszlo believes that our basic archetypal maps, cognitive maps over many generations of previous cultures...have entered some kind of ambient field, a mental field which he calls the Psi field--where the "store of experiences accumulated in each individual" enter into a special aspect of the universe.
Laszlo's basic assumption is that somehow the Psi World must be subject
to the same laws as those of the physical universe, i.e., the laws of
conservation as dynamic energy phenomena in the physical universe. As
he puts it: "According to the laws of physics, energy is conserved. It
is only transformed from one form to another, so that nothing is lost
in the universe."
Talking of creativity, of intelligibility as beauty, the late S. Chandrasekhar-- once a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, and Nobel Prize winner for physics-- tells a lovely story of an earlier generation of scientists. Chandrasekhar quotes astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630):
"Now it might be asked how this faculty of the soul, which does not engage
in conceptual thinking and can therefore have no prior knowledge of harmonic
relations, should be capable of recognizing what is given in the outward
world...To this, I answer that all pure Ideas, or archetypal patterns
of harmony...are *inherently* present in those who are capable of apprehending
And Chandrasekhar quotes a fascinating reply to Kepler by one of the 20th century's most brilliant quantum physicists, Wolfgang Pauli, who died in 1958:
"The bridge, leading from the initially unordered data of experience
to the Ideas, consists in certain primeval images pre-existing in the
soul--the archetypes of Kepler. These primeval images should not be located
in consciousness or related to specific rationally formulizable ideas.
It is a question, rather, of forms belonging to the unconscious region
of the human soul, images of powerful emotional content, which are not
thought, but beheld..."
One of Pauli's compatriots was Werner Heisenberg, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, who died in 1976. Heisenberg, famous for his Uncertainty Principle, adds a few lines to Kepler and Pauli when he discusses the motivations behind much scientific discovery and technological innovations. As he nicely put it, "The development of science and technology has produced, for example, the IDEA of the airplane." Heisenberg is talking about that which is *a priori.* He elaborates:
"At that moment...when the true Ideas rise up, there occurs in the soul
of him who sees them an altogether indescribable process of the highest
intensity. It is the amazed awe that Plato speaks of in the Phaedrus,
with which the soul remembers, as it were, something it had unconsciously
possessed all along."
Sir James Jeans (1877-1946)--mathematician, physicist, and astronomer--also
pondered the Imaginal, specifically in relation to mathematics. Talking
of "pure mathematics," Jeans refers to such as creations of pure thought
"practically uninfluenced by contact with the outer world." He is talking
about a special, strange "independent world created out of pure intelligence."
Jeans proceeds: "The making of models or pictures to explain a mathematical
formulae and the phenomena they describe is not a step towards, but is
a step away from reality; it is like making graven images of a spirit."
So it would seem the message we should be getting--from these "mysteries, these eternals " that so many experience--is the need to remain open-minded, ever more receptive to the information flowing into our soul from this Psi field, this Imaginal Realm.
Strange as it may seem--all these special experiences, all these *a priori* eternals that dwell within and touch our soul would appear (in themselves) to be at least the preparatories for any forthcoming mystical union that we might hope to have with that Greatest of mysteries, that which some call the "Cosmic Christ."
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