Sunday, 29 May 2016

Christ as a cosmic event

Naturally and rightly, we tend to focus on Salvation and Eternal Resurrected Life as being the main consequences of Christ's incarnation - but there is a further sense in which Christ brought-about a transformation of human consciousness.

This happened because the possibility of salvation and the advent of resurrection introduce new potentialities - which therefore transform the current actuality of consciousness. When Men became creatures capable of repentance, then this changed us - whether or not we actually repented.

Even though we regard these as a gift from God, the fact we have been given these gifts changed us irreversibly - even if we choose to deny or reject the gifts; these gifts have, nonetheless, been-given. When Man became a being destined for resurrection then, involuntarily, Man was changed here-and-now, whether or not Man knew about what had happened in any explicit fashion.

However, because agency (or free will) is real, then the cosmic significance of Christ is not that Men were brought closer to divinity - rather, the change was and is in terms of possibility rather than attainment. But that possibility changes the meaning and significance of everything.

The change may be understood in terms of our inmost and real Self. With the prospect of resurrection the self was given the eternal destiny of focused autonomy in a physical body; and with the possibility of repentance the Self was given control over the divine destiny.

A reasonable analogy is that the effect of Christ's incarnation was the end of man's childhood and the beginning of his adolescence - with potential for greater maturity and complexity and responsibility for Good, but also with potential for things to go very wrong in the direction of selfish short-termism and impulsivity. If we learn from adolescence the right things and move-on to maturity we are stronger as a consequence and move closer to God - but there is also the possibility of getting stuck in adolescence and of learning the wrong things and rejecting the Good.

In childhood we are substantially shaped by our innate nature and the surrounding environment. Adolescence is about Self-consciousness, consciousness of the Self, and detachment from that environment.

We reach a point of complete self-consciousness and separation from the outer world - at this point we perceive the choice as being total subjectivism (in which our own current feelings are the only reality and trump all considerations) and/or total extinction of subjectivity in which the external world of Things is the only reality and the Self a transient illusion (the world, more-or-less, of rationalism and science, of public discourse and bureaucracy). Neither of these conclusions is coherent or sustainable - so adolescents usually oscillate between them, or else simply despair.

At the adolescent stage, the Self is cut-off from the world - but the destiny of Christ as a cosmic event is that this is a transient developmental stage: Man is meant to bounce-off this transitional state of total Self-consciousness and alienation, return to full engagement wit the external world - but this time with the autonomous Self in charge.

In sum, man begins as engaged but hardly-a-Self and can only achieve his (adult) destiny as a fully an agent who is fully engaged with the world by going via the (adolescent) state of being a disengaged Self.

The next stage of being a participating agent can easily be described and foretold; but what is required is that it actually be experienced. And indeed, this experience already happens, at least for many people some of the time - but is not generally recognised. The reason that the experience is missed is that it is a transient dynamic state of being, and not a category: it is the state of being conscious of our own thinking as a living and happening phenomenon. It is Me Thinking of This-Thinking.

In other words the Self and the World are unified in our real experience, in the ongoing process of thinking and the simultaneous awareness of this as an ongoing-reality - as a fact.

But this is not widely appreciated because of several things - we may not regard it as a fact because the state cannot be sustained, but instead we regard it as a temporary illusion; we may find ourselves unable to communicate what we have experienced; we may regard the adolescent state of alienation as the ultimate reality and the adult state (of being a participating agent) as deluded wishful-thinking... and so on.

In other words, we are trapped in the stage of adolescent alienation, because we have trapped-ourselves. And ultimately this is our choice - we are self-trapped because (ultimately) we have chosen to be self-trapped. We have, of course, the agency (a gift of Christ) not to be self-trapped - but have chosen for whatever reason to deny this agency, to claim that we cannot (or should not) use this agency.

In sum - the incarnation of Christ was a cosmic event, the world was changed, the universe was changed - and the consequences unfold. If we find that consequences are bad and we don't like them, then that has been our own individual choice.