Friday, January 11, 2019

Genuine Heterodoxy

“Each religion is alone true, that is to say, that at the moment we are thinking of it we must bring as much attention to bear on it as if there were nothing else ... A 'synthesis' of religion implies a lower quality of attention.” — Simone Weil

I do believe Weil's quote is on point more so these days than I may have in the past. Being drawn to certain syncretic approaches to Truth, I once believed you could come up with one system than hangs all Truths together (see Ken Wilber). But now I don't believe this is probably the best approach.  

That's not to say I have gone orthodox in the strict sense of the word. As Fr. Andrew Stephen notes, “Orthodox dogma never claims to expound the whole truth about anything, but only delineates the borders of the mystery.” It is where we delineate the borders that things can get interesting or very slippery. I suppose for some of us, based on personal interests and inclinations and archetype, need to expand the boundaries where our path is no longer strictly orthodox. By working from the edges of the inside, we have moved the edges out a tad.

This is tricky, and probably not a good move for most. I do find these often leads to individuals pursuing almost anything spiritual or philosophical that appears to have authenticity. When this impulse begins to happen, then it is easy for one to fall into a spiritual relativism: there is no one, universal, absolute truth, but rather, there is only what is true “for me” or “for you.”

But I suppose there is room for genuine heterodoxy, where you know that you're the sort of individual who needs to turn over other rocks to find Truth. You are still immersed in a traditional path, but willing to find other religious precepts that may affirm or create dissonance in what your path expounds. Maybe reconciliation is never the point, and as Weil notes each path has its own fragrance of ontological Truth.

This path still should be traditional, since tradition has gone through its share of trials and errors. These paths are in line with the notion of anti-fragility (in Nassim Taleb speak) that no New Thought/Age path can accommodate. And even for those who believe in the emergence of something novel, MotT makes the intriguing point that the “mission of the Buddha-Avatar to come will therefore not be the foundation of a new religion, but rather that of bringing human beings to first hand experience of the source itself of all revelation ever received from above by mankind, as also of all essential truth ever conceived of by mankind. It will not be novelty to which he will aspire, but rather the conscious certainty of eternal truth.”

Understanding one's Raccoon archetype, being committed to Truth, and humbly submitting to the spiritual authority of tradition, allows for a genuine heterodoxy.

Fritjof Schuon, as usual, expresses this best:
“A pneumatic is in a way the “incarnation” of a spiritual archetype, which means that he is born with a state of knowledge which, for other people, would actually be the goal, and not the point of departure; the pneumatic does not “go forward” towards something “other than himself”; he stays where he is in order to become fully what he himself is — namely his archetype — by ridding himself, one after the other, of veils or outer surfaces, shackles imposed by the ambience or perhaps by heredity. He becomes rid of them by means of ritual supports — “sacraments,” one might say — not forgetting meditation and prayer; but his situation is nonetheless quite other than that of ordinary men, even prodigiously gifted ones. From another point of view it must be recognized that a born gnostic is by nature more or less independent, not only as regards the “letter” but also as regards the “law”; and this does not make his relation with the ambience any simpler, either psychologically or socially (…). In any case, the pneumatic is situated, by his nature, on the vertical and timeless axis — where there is no “before” or “after” — so that the archetype which he personifies or “incarnates”, and which is his true “himself’ or “his very self’ can, at any moment, pierce through the contingent, individual envelope; it is therefore really “himself’ who is speaking. The real gnostic does not attribute any “state” to himself, for he is without ambition and without ostentation; he has a tendency rather — through an “instinct for holding back” — to disguise his nature inasmuch as he has, in any case, awareness of “cosmic play” (lila) and it is hard for him to take secular and worldly persons seriously, that is to say, “horizontal” beings who are full of self-confidence and who remain, “humanists” that they are, below the vocation of man.”