Thursday, May 14, 2020

Curiously Satisfying...,


To return to Hebrews, the writer goes on to say: ' ... it is impossible to please God without faith' (xi.6). That is, it is impossible without the basis or foundation of faith, which makes it possible for a man to think beyond the evidence of his senses and realise the existence of invisible scale and understand psychological meaning. To realise scale means to realise that there are different levels of meaning. Literal meaning is one thing, psychological or spiritual meaning is another thing - although the words used are the same. For example, we saw that the word yeast used in the incident quoted indicated two levels of meaning. The disciples took it on the lower level and were told it was because their faith was little. Their thinking was sensual.

They had difficulty in thinking in a new way on another level. And their psychological thinking was so weak just because they were based on sense and not on faith. Thus sense and faith describe two ways of thinking, not opposites, not antagonistic, but on different levels. For without the perception of scale and levels, things are made to be opposite when they are not so, and Man's mind is split into 'either - or', which leads to endless confusions and mental wrangles and miseries. The writer goes on to say: 'Nobody reaches God's presence until he has learned to believe that God exists and that He rewards those that try to find Him' (xi.6). It is apparent that if scale is behind all things, if order is scale, and if to set in order is to set in scale then what is higher and what is lower must exist. To everything there must be an above and a below. A man who cannot perceive scale, visible and invisible, as did that centurion by means of his psychological understanding due to his great faith, will be shut to the intuitions that only faith opens out to every mind that hitherto has been asleep in the senses and the limited world revealed by them.

The chief preliminary voluntary act - and it needs to be lifelong in its voluntaryness - towards the inner spirit, the source and conveyor of meaning, is that of affirmation. Only by this act does all that is outward, external and dead become connected with what is internal and alive. This is the chief of all psychological acts. It is the preliminary and at the same time the continually renewable act whereby psychology, in the deepest sense - (that is, the science of personal evolution) begins. The final goal of it, far ahead, is the unity of oneself. Man becomes gradually united through himself with himself and not merely with what he accidentally has become and believes himself to be. Affirmation is not by argument but by understanding. Negation leads always to an inner deprivation and so to an increasing superficiality, impatience, loss of meaning, and violence. One can always deny. What is easier? One can always follow the path of negation, if one evades all acts of understand-
ing as sentimental or as scientifically and commercially valueless.

For St. Augustine and many more before and after him, the sick, the deaf, and the dead in the Gospels are the sick and deaf,  and the dead within. And in speaking of the two blind men who, sitting by the way side as Jesus was passing, cried out and asked that their eyes might be opened, he asks if we can really suppose that this is merely an account of a miraculous event concerning two physically blind men? Why does it say that the crowd try to restrain them, and that they fight against it and insist on attracting the attention of Jesus? 'They overcame the crowd, who kept them back, by the great perseverance of their cry, that their voice might reach the Lord's ears. . . . The Lord was passing by and they cried out. The Lord stood still and they were healed. For the Lord Jesus stood still and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They said unto him, That our eyes may be opened.' (Matthew xx.30-34) The blind here are those who cannot see but wish to see. Augustine says they are those who are blind in their hearts and realise it. Like the deaf, like the sick and the dead, the blind are a certain kind of people. They are, in this case, people in a certain inner state, knowing they are blind, and wishing to see clearly. 'Cry out among the very crowds', he says, 'and do not despair.' Who are these two blind men who know they cannot see but who recognise the spiritual meaning typified in the person of Jesus - what individual functions of the soul are shewn here that struggle with the crowd of commonplace meanings and thoughts and finally, by their own determination, receive their power of vision? 'If two or three are gathered together in my name . . . ' said Christ (Matthew xviii.20). What two sides of ourselves must first take part that our eyes may be opened - that is, our understanding? Why two, to make it effective?  Nicoll The Mark