[Modes and Hierarchical Levels]

This post is continued from a previous post here.

“”The account of the levels of Being which separate the Creator from material universe, while at the same time uniting them, is similar in all the revealed traditions and in the works of many mystical philosophers. But it is never identical, since whatever can be made explicit has already entered the world of relativity. True metaphysical doctrines are vastly more stable, articulate, intelligible and concrete than anything in the material and psychic worlds. But even though the Absolute emanates them, they cannot contain the Absolute; they can only indicate it.

Being is manifested on different levels, but it also appears in terms of different qualities occupying the same level. Levels are vertical; each higher level is the cause of the levels below it, and contains all that is in these lower levels in a higher form. Likewise each lower level is a manifestation or expression—a symbol—of all that is above it; in René Guénon’s words, ‘the effect is a symbol of the cause.’ Modes of Being, on the other hand, are horizontal; they differ in quality and function, but not in degree of reality; they are mutually-defining, polarized manifestations of a single level of Being.

The distinction between modes and levels can be illustrated in the realm of gender. In vertical terms, man, considered as a reflection of the creative Logos, is higher than woman, considered as a reflection of universal receptive Substance. Viewed from the opposite perspective, however, woman, when taken as a symbol of the Divine Essence or Beyond Being, is higher than man, when seen as a symbol of the particularizing thrust of the Logos whose ontological limit is the material world as perceived by the human ego. But in horizontal terms, man and woman are polarized as complementary opposites, on the same level of Being. The right hand is not more real than the left hand; because they are complementary, they are equal. But equality in this sense has nothing to do with sameness or identity. The right hand still maintains its symbolic connection with the higher realms of Being, with truth and the ‘right’,  while the left or ‘sinister’ hand retains its affinity with the lower realms. On the other hand—pun deliberately intended—the right hand is also connected with the outer conscious ego and the left hand with inner Truth, as Jesus implied when he recommended that, in charity, one should not let his right hand (conscious ego) know what his left hand (inner spiritual impulse) is doing. [NOTE: Whoever meditates on the famous Yin/Yang sign will see in it a visual representation of this paragraph.]”

Source: Charles Upton, The System of Antichrist, pp. 95-6

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[The Capacity for Freedom]

This post is continued from a previous one here.

“[The] interior complexity of man means that each person has the means to unite himself or herself in an equally natural way to either the Providential or the Fatidic order. However, we do not apply the term ‘free will’ to both of these options, because what we understand by freedom does not belong to nature, where all is subject to efficient causality, but rather to Providence which comprises the archetypes or formal causes of all that belongs to nature. This is said to be free because it comprises the essential realities of the world as they are ‘before’ being instanced in material form and so subjected to all kinds of constraint.

The soul which aligns itself with Providence, and therefore with freedom, will thus be the one which realizes the possibilities of the spiritual nature to the fullest extent possible for the individual concerned. This involves an orientation of the whole person which is not to be confused with the divisive effects of an unintegrated intellectuality which is made an end in itself, and so denies its spiritual and sacramental role. On the contrary, it applies to the body as well, by its participation in the soul, which in turn participates in intellect; it too is spiritualised in its own way, therefore. Concerning the effect of this union, Guénon says: ‘In uniting itself to Providence and consciously collaborating with it, the human will can become a counter-balance to destiny and finally neutralize it.’ In the words of Fabre d’Olivet,

The harmony of the Will and Providence constitutes Good; Evil is born of their opposition. Man has received three forces adapted to each of the three modifications of his being…and the unity which binds them [these forces], that is to say Man, is perfected or depraved, according as it tends to become blended with the Universal Unity or to become distinguished from it.

In other words man approaches either perfection or depravity depending on which of the two poles of manifestation he gravitates towards: the pole of unity or the pole of multiplicity.

This also makes it easier to see how each soul can choose its own destiny, since the inward relations it makes with its material, psychical, and spiritual possibilities are in effect the formal causes of its relations to the external conditions under which it lives and develops. In other words, it is not so much a matter of the person being modified by a set of conditions as of a soul gravitating to a set of conditions which corresponds to its interior relations, and under which the latter will be best able to realize their potential. This leads to certain questions about the will which are hardly ever treated theoretically, particularly concerning the distinction between the things we do and the things we suffer. If the movement of the will is based on the component wills of Instinctive, Animic, and Intellectual principles, it can be seen that the adverse wills which confront us need only be the counterparts of unintegrated acts of volition within us.

Like wills can only connect with like, but if the whole person is harmonized in relation to the intellective principle, the will must be free, and so not liable to attract adverse volition to itself, having none within. The choice of freedom and free will outlined above is implicitly obedience to the will of God, where the universal Divine will can be discerned by means of the threefold constitution of the being. Its implication is that each person is born with a destiny to develop as much as possible through the Instinctive, Animic, and Intellective levels, with the grace of sacred tradition.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 79-81

[The Fourfold Being]

“…the four most universal realities…known to both Pythagorean and Far-Eastern teachings under different names, these [are]…: God, Providence (or universal spirit), Nature (or fate), and Man (or universal soul). According to this scheme, Providence and Nature both proceed from God, while man is as it were the child of Providence and Nature, though he is no less a creature of God at the same time. This peculiarity of human origin is also indicated by the account in Genesis where Adam and Eve are only created on the sixth day of creation, last of all beings. On this basis, the human being can be taken to be a resultant of the divine action and the created natural order as a whole. Because of this relation to creation as a whole, the human is understood to be an epitome or microcosm of all being, so that each person (the fourth order of being) will be composed of the same things as the ‘three worlds,’ namely the providential or archetypal world, the psychical or subtle world, and the material world. This is the three-fold inner structure which Fabre d’Olivet represents by the Intellective, Animic, and Instinctive spheres in the structure of the human soul.

These spheres are represented by four circles (see figure 4), three of which stand on a vertical line, while the fourth surrounds these three. The lowest circle of the three represents the life of instinct which attaches to the body, ruled only by pleasure and pain, because its higher possibilities depend on its participation in those of the soul. The central one represents what is most typically the soul, the realm of emotions, which are roused by the sense of good and bad. The third circle is that of intellect, which is activated by truth and falsehood.

All conscious activity is distributed among these three, in all kinds of combinations and proportions. Their combined effect is what determines the movement of the fourth circle, which represents the will of the whole person. At birth, the soul or self is almost wholly identified with the Instinctive sphere, and it is only through the development of the possibilities of this sphere that it is able finally to trigger the development of the second, or ‘Animic’ sphere, which is that of soul as such. Similarly, the development of life through the Animic opens up the possibilities of the Intellective sphere. This development can be represented in terms of Figure 4 as an expansion of the Animic sphere to the point where it strikes the center of the Intellective, which then begins its own expansion. Human beings are thus unique in being made up of a union of material, psychical, and noetic principles, reflecting the whole order of creation in miniature. In effect, the soul’s activity evolves from a level inferior to the one specific to it, through that of its intrinsic nature, and up to one above its own level, in which it participates in the intellect as the body participates in the soul.

This account of our inner formation is capable of being shown as another quaternary relationship, which reflects the universal one. The fourth circle, representing the will of the person, related to body, soul, and intellect in ways that reflect the relation of God to Providence, Nature (or Macrocosm), and Man (see figure 5). There are thus two tetrads with man as the common term: these could be called the Great and the Little Tetrads respectively, and which show the correspondences between Providence and Intellect, between Nature or Fate and the body, and between God and man. One thing this figure does not show is that these relations are dynamic, and in no way static, since the human will is able to strengthen or weaken the relationships it has to each of the three inner spheres, and create different combinations among them.

Unless there was such a being as man, comprising both archetypal and material reality at once, Providence and Fate (or nature) would have no means of relating to one another. It is thus a question of man’s being a natural or universal ‘pontifex’ or bridge-builder, therefore, so long as it is understood that this function is a potentiality in need of realization, which Fabre d’Oliver expresses as follows:

At the moment when man arrives on earth he belongs to Fate, which leads him captive for a long time in the vortex of fatality. But although he is immersed in this vortex and subject at first to its influence just like all the elementary beings, he bears a divine seed within him which can never be entirely confounded with it…when this seed is fully developed, it constitutes the Will of Universal Man, one of the great three powers of the universe.

Guénon points out that this mediating role of mankind in the cosmos is the macrocosmic equivalent of the mediating role of the soul in each human being, where it relates to and connects the intellect and the body. All this is of fundamental importance for the freedom of the will. If we start from the complex nature of the person, as above, and bear in mind that the Instinctive, Animic, and Intellective ‘spheres’ are by no means bound to act in concert, but can modify the will by the equivalent rotation at various speeds, both with and contrary to one another, there will be more than enough to support the idea of free will.

The loss of such ideas from modern philosophy has resulted in a point of view which is too simplified to correspond to reality. Its reasonings about free will are therefore based on the most minimal assumptions about human nature which ignore its internal levels of being. When the person is thus treated as a single subject who knows and wills, moreover, the discussion is biased against free will from the start, because, in nature, the simpler the structure, the less room there is for freedom. Simplistic thought is inherently deterministic; the simplest structure of all, like that of a stone, has no freedom at all.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 74-9