Friday 20 March 2020

Coping with this world's suffering - The Platonic Perspective

This latest video by John Butler is a clear phenomenological description of what could be termed the Platonic Perspective as it occurs in the Western spiritual traditions - including having a strong influence on the mystical types of Christianity; and perhaps especially Eastern Orthodoxy (which was once dominant in my part of The West - in the form of Celtic Christianity).

JB draws a contrast between, on the one hand: the deep peace attainable during meditation; when he inhabits what feels-like a timeless, spaceless and unchanging world - understood as the world of the divine. And which I also recognise as Plato's 'world of forms'.

And on the other hand: the noise and bustle; fear, decline and degradation; and the physical restrictions of this mortal earthly life: a life of always-temporary and -partial joys; but also of inevitable loss, decay and death.

Regarded from the abstractly-divine, infinite and static world of Platonic 'reality' - this mortal world and earthly life appear (as JB says here) like a tiny theatre; infinitestimal in the immeasurable vastness of space and time - a playhouse putting on bitter-sweet dramas with flesh-and-blood actors, that seem serious while they are being enacted; but from-which we shall awaken as bodiless spirits into the changeless bliss of Nirvana.

It seems to me that this Nirvana is very close to the idea of Heaven as it has been (and is) imagined or anticipated by many Christians - albeit that Christians must acknowledge that (eventually) they will (like Jesus) be resurrected with solid and human-shaped bodies...

However, the physicality of the resurrection body has often been defined and (I would say) dissipated into something more spiritual than material: something superficially looking like a mortal body but actually functionally pretty-much identical with spirit... 

Anyway; I can certainly appreciate the appeal of this Platonic (or Hindu, or Buddhist) Perspective - and indeed held some such view myself not so long ago (as can be seen in several blog entries dating up to about 2012).

But now I have rejected it in favour of an understanding of Christianity that is, I think, much more in-line with the actuality and neccessity of Jesus Christ; and in which Time is a universal reality - I mean linear, sequential and irreversible Time - albeit a Time which we know runs at very different speeds in different places...

Time is perspectival: analogous to the descriptions of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. We experience the relativity differences in Deep Sleep - in which we are hardly aware, and from where time runs so slowly compared to awakeness that no time seems to pass despite hours having passed 'by the clock'. Or in Dreaming Sleep in which we are aware, and where we can cram the events of many hours into a single minute (as measured in awake 'clock time').

Using this as a model; I can quite simply explain-away the experiences of John Butler's meditation; in that the apparent absence of time and space is an illusion produced by the cessation of awareness - much as happens in Deep Sleep. And, exactly like our experience of deep and dream-less sleep - JB's type of meditation creates a state of mind in which there is no suffering and no worries.

But that is not because unawareness is more-real than awareness: Deep Sleep (and its analogues) is necessary and valuable - but it is not realer-than being awake. Unawareness is simply a different state of consciousness.

And I infer that God wants us to spend most of our life in a state of awareness since that is how all men naturally spend most of their lives: i.e. awake.

Going further; I see in the development of each Man from child to adult, and the development of Mankind from animist, through religious, to romantic; our divine destiny is to become more aware - because awareness is more free, more creative; and capable of chosen love.

God is self-aware: increased awareness is part-of an increase in divinity.

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