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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Eudaimonia: On the natural resources of the soul

Eye of Providence Window, Santa Maria Assunta (Baselga del Bondone, Trento)

Lynn Merrill-Paduck

Our cognitive identities are thinking ourselves into being, into becoming ‘more than’. Yet it is easy to fall prey to intellectually reducing the three living values of Nous-Soma-Psyche (the Triunity), into a mere mind-body-spirit disjunction (the tripartite self) which necessarily diminishes access to true unity. Without a deep awareness of our triune souls, humans are trapped in a poverty of consciousness, lacking any teleological direction to attain the existential love that restores us to the Divine. The gifts of the triune may be placed within us, fleshly temporal matter, yet are not of it, for they come to us from the Aeternal, and continually draw us back unto that incontrovertible reality, as an assent towards the heavenly divine (the Good, the One). The tripartite self that we experience in the flesh can be balanced, integrated, and lived as an actualized soul, nearly unencumbered by the egoistic concerns of the mind-spirit, or the demands of carnal reality.

The soul seed is natively positioned at the center of the disjunctive tripartite self, unactivated. It remembers residing amongst the Aeternal Form of the Triunity, the greater totality of our being before birth, and it wants to recollect its indivisible wholeness. The triune soul depends on intellect to lead the way methodologically back to its source. Using our intellect we reach forth, as witnesses of the ancient promise of theorific contemplation, yet this is only one of the three portions. We must necessarily make our peace with the other portions of our being as well, body and spirit, which conform not to our will to ‘become’, but ever refute our ascent by drawing us back down into those relationships that primarily partake of the carnality of man (the fodder of concupiscence). There is no peace to be had however, in the denial of the flesh. Minimum maintenance and respect is always required, as are the relationships of the spirit of man to his total community. Neither is respite to be had by a complete ‘outsourcing’ of our inner authority to Doctors, Psychiatrists, or Ministers. Blind adherence is self-abnegating when we force ourselves into the ideal of the ‘other’, whether medical, therapeutic or doctrinal. Becoming a non-self doesn’t help anyone. Individuation is required, to orphan the soul from its excess attachments, because only a searing loneliness or deliberate isolation can provide the intentionality to reunite with the Divine. Keeping busy with earthly matters is the greatest trap, and is a direct avoidance of that very precondition.

It seems that all souls have the capacity for revelatory insight at whatever level of health, reclusion and intellect they are at, IF they integrate these tripartite resources into a quest for personal meaning. For most persons however, they place undue emphasis on only one leg of these three, and therefore miss out on their integrative gifts. Rejecting parts through scientific reductionism, mythic reductionism or apatheticism will block the pathway to The Ineffable Good. Clinging to any third(s) is vain illusion and defeats the soul quest; only a subsuming integration leads to the Divine. These three are ontologically inseparable, and even clinging to all three thirds without integration results in a conflicted humanity, the dualistic actor who juggles. There is no sufficiency to be had in a fragmented nature.

Polemicists make resolution look easy, since they are only balancing two attenuated ideas. Finding the midpoint of a duality can remain solely intellectual, a logoistic endeavor.
Yet since this objective - subjective reality has no ‘witness’, no Paraclete, no Divine Home for the soul, humanity is still bereft, without providence. Not so with a Triunity. This is never a thesis-antithesis-synthesis, which is actually only a resolved polemic. Nor is I-thou-we a Triunity. That level of We-ness is most desirable from an ecopsychological vantage, yet still it is completely material and earthly in content. This is the most mature phase of integrating our fragmented collectivity into an awareness of our participation mystique in the Holy Ghost. Neither private nor collective, ‘we’ are now acting members of the Imaginal Realm, lucid participants of the conscious (non-dreaming) tertiary engagement. Getting this far with uniting ones mind-body-spirit is a profound blessing indeed. Deeply comforting, but it is not yet truly Universal.

One cultivates the tripartite self through appropriate investment in its multiple parts, all the while looking through the lens of Divine Contemplation. To put down the haggardlinesses of our polemics is the one great task on the Divine chore list, and we must therefore turn to the Christos. He provides the place; wherever two or more are drawn together, the sincere gift of dialectical conversation resolves many lower mysteries, freeing the higher qualities of mind to true contemplation of the Divine. This becomes the fortitude of a new morality, this quest for ‘meaning’ as we discover the Ethical Divine together, non-conscripted to affections or temporal matter. Interior self control is the key to this sophrososynetic virtue. We need to empty ourselves of egoism.

Once actualized, there is no going back to sit in only one corner of your tripartite being, for the change is permanent, transcendent and epiphanic. The Anagoge itself is a depiction of ascent past the point of the personal, to ‘become’ in the depths of our mind-spirit-body at the point of passing it all up (a truer depth psychology there may never be) a type of personal pleroma that generates the most proficiently Divine Nous possible. Ones personality still has edges, yet there remains no private content, for all has been shed, shuffed off as material relations that hinder actualization. Once integrated, it seems that these bonds are inseparable, and the inner vision becomes the outer reality. (And now we might have reached the point where we truly have nothing to say for ourselves.) Things that can be explained are not transcendent knowledge, but rather are symbols of the unexplainable, which contain the direct transference of the One Ineffable Good into the actualized soul.

The separate values of the tripartite self need to be blended, integrated, to provide access to the divine mind within, sparking into life the ‘soul seed’, latent within all men, as an ‘eye’, like the triangular iconographic image of God of medieval days. Even though we cannot sustain a constant participation in it, we cannot escape what we now KNOW. We must reach forth from there to the Triunity of: personal pleroma / ethics of the eternal forms / contemplation of Divine Nous, to find and awaken the Eye of GOD within all of us.

Plotinus’ anti-fleshliness arises from the (seeming) utter dependence of the intellect on the flesh as the vehicle for soulful communion, to the exclusion of the other aspect of equally great import, the spirit. This keening awareness may have resulted in part from having a slave wet-nurse for eight years, because the inequities of our dependencies usually horrifies the evolved mind. Plotinus was (on the way to) purporting the hypostases of the Triunity, yet he placed the ineffable within one triadic corner, rather than transcendently centering it above, and we know that Porphyry was not a Christian sentimentalist, and (may have) misrepresented his master's mind. The monad is only described so painstakingly for the sake of the unintegrated tripartite soul as a signpost along the way, to avoid dualism. The ordering of the ‘emanations’ is confusing when ‘a God’ (Aedonai) is your personal spirit guide, and yet you’re still a pagan.

Humility, self restriction, practical justice unto others, intellectual inquiry, regular communion with like seekers, gender indistinction, shunning base interests, personalized ritual prayer; any beautiful list of tools and practical skills can get us up to the point of parading as Pharisees, but getting beyond that point requires an interiority, an inward integration. Open-hearted Prayer is the call outward and upward, silent meditation containing no thoughts is the receipt inward, for the Henosis has no room for our ego.

To trust the Grace in which we are already immersed, as the present Parousia of the Christos is the great gift. Like a joyous fish in water, we cannot truly describe it.


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