Thursday 21 December 2017

Undulation, consciousness and Life

Life is undulation: life is meant to be undulation: consciousness is undulating.

The main undulation is between waking and sleeping - during sleep there is undulation between deep sleep and dreaming.

While awake there is also undulation in consciousness - between the three major types of Original Participation, the Consciousness Soul and Final Participation - that is; between childlike, adolescent-like and grown-up-divine consciousness - that is; between immersive-in-life un-consicousness -- alienated/ cut-off-from-life self-consciousness -- and conscious participation with reality...

Much of this blog has recently been concerned with the attainment of Final Participation - by means of Primary Thinking; but I have neglected to emphasise that we cannot do Primary Thinking all-the-time, and more than we could stay awake all-the-time. And, more importantly, it would not be desirable for us to live in Final Participation all-the-time - any more than to be awake/ asleep all the time.

Undulation is part of the essence of life; because life is dynamic, polar; life is about love - love is something that entails movement - movement requires undulation...

It isn't just that we cannot be in any fixed and permanent state, but that this would be a denial of the very nature of reality. I am talking, here, about the metaphysical nature of things...

If it is accepted that ultimate reality is a thing that is dynamic/ polar/ moving - then this just is how things are. It is not a matter of what is expedient, or pleasurable, or good-for-us - but that things always are going to be undulating.

Our remote tribal ancestors seemed to understand this, in one way - in that they regarded life as transformation, a cycling of states - an endless mixing and recombining of the same fixed ultimate material...

Our own metaphysics is, by contrast, open-ended, and genuinely creative; yet it returns to that old idea of transformation of state, of life as undulating - but we see this as the means by which there is creation.

But love gives the clearest example. In Love (and I do not mean in-and-out-of love - but staying In love) there is undulation - Love is NOT (think about it, contra what some have said) a steady solid unchanging state of being; love is intrinsically undulating: that is its life and livingess.

We stay-in love, but undulating. Same for life, same for our own specific life.

Do not grasp and hold onto one state, not even the best and most divine state - but undulate; as is right and necessary.

Note: This idea comes, today, from what Rudolf Steiner termed 'oscillation' (in translation), and from what William Arkle describes in A Geography of Consciousness, in the chapter 'Astrology' - it is also memorably discussed in CS Lewis's Screwtape Letters (although I feel that the point is undercut by Lewis's neo-Platonic metaphysics; which philosophy suggests to me that undulation is 'merely' an expedient of mortal life - to be dispensed-with in Heaven...).


Chiu ChunLing said...

I would prefer another term than undulation. Partly because "undulation" removes the crucial energetic and moral character of this shift in our attentions.

I would say that, with increased capacity for attentiveness, we can learn to engage in Primary Thinking while simultaneously carrying out some of the tasks that inspiration teaches us are necessary. One can write while possessed of the inspiration which impels communication, indeed one of the naive mistakes of many poets is that writing cannot be accomplished in any other way. One can even eat while continuing to pray.

What we cannot yet do is fully pay attention to demanding tasks (including many condoned by our Primary Thinking) while sparing any attention. But how demanding a task is before it consumes all our attention is a matter of relative mental capacity, not easily amenable to dramatic improvement in this life, but still far from an insuperable barrier.

The other side of the coin is less tractable, Primary Thinking must engage with a reality which encompasses fully whatever capacity it is possible for our minds to have, thus it can always consume any amount of attention we have available to pay to it. And yet the result of Primary Thinking is inevitably an injunction to "condescend" from pure contemplation to give service, often menial, but sometimes highly demanding. However, this in itself means that we are freed from some standard of Primary Thinking requiring that we pay the contemplation of inspiration any particular degree of attention other than what is currently within our abilities. For a task that requires some finite amount of attention, you can say that lack of attention will lead to it being done badly rather than well. For Primary Thinking, the only difference is to do it or not, even if there were some finite limit to Primary Thinking, it would necessarily be larger than the capacity of our minds. We are always in the situation of only giving some fraction of the mental focus to Primary Thinking that would result in clear improvement of the results.

Thus our only options are to do it as much as is possible for us (which includes taking the time to serve as inspiration directs), or to not do it.

One key factor is that we must learn the difference between acceptance of what is and tolerance. Inspiration teaches us total acceptance, but commands specific intolerance. It is not humanly useful to attempt both acceptance and intolerance at the same time, even if we were able to do it ourselves, we are usually dealing with other entities (people or not) which lack any such clear distinction and thus can only be affected by one or the other at a given moment.

Thus Primary Thinking may lead you to accept the mortal condition of your body and the inevitability of death, but still command you to refuse to tolerate starving to death when you have a pantry full of food you could cook and eat (or a full wallet and a local grocery, or the ability to take work and fill your wallet or grow food yourself).

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - Good points.

'Undulation' is not an ideal term - but there is none already available; presumably a term needs inventing.