Thursday, August 16, 2012

V Manchester Talk May 31, 2012

This event-horizon is often signalled by paradox. In fact, paradox is the main axis on which the mind turns in the work of silence. Its most recent formulation is the paradox of intention. It should be noted here that paradoxes are only paradoxes to the self-conscious mind; they are not paradoxes from the point of view of the deep inclusive mind. A example of the paradox of intention is the word-on-the-tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon in which one must forget in order to remember—to forget not only the absent word, but also the effort to remember. Underlying this paradox of intention is the fact that the self-conscious mind describes things to itself by apophasis, by what the object is not. To resubmit what it has discovered to the deep mind for clarification and contextualisation, it must then efface even this negation. This double negation at the neuro-psychological level is reflected in the double negation of classic apophaticism. The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is an example of paradox as descriptor. Paradoxes also serve the mind as catalysts, transponders, passkeys, portals, and more, which is why they need to be accepted as given.
Crossing the event horizon causes a fleeting suspension of self-consciousness. This suspension of self-consciousness happens many times a day in the normal course of ordinary life; it is a necessary part of the learning process. These occurrences are usually so fleeting that they normally pass unremarked by the person or by any observer who might be present.[1]
This suspension of self-consciousness is what many pre-fifteenth century authors mean by excessus mentis, as distinct from rapture, insanity, and other nuances that have attached to this word from ancient times. Isaac of Nineveh says bluntly, 'The mind is snatched.' In meditation, for example, one uses the single form of attention that the self-conscious mind possesses in order to subvert it: that is to say, one uses a word to leave words behind so that one may listen for the Word; self-consciousness chases the repeated word down the rabbit hole to the event horizon where both the word and self-consciousness seem to disappear—and yes, I think Lewis Carroll may have understood this phenomenon. To realise that the effacement of self-consciousness is essential to the work of silence—and the everyday nature of this phenomenon—is behind Eckhart's statement that if you doing anything special from a religious point of view, you are not seeking God. 

[1] Marvin Shaw, The Paradox of Intention: Reaching the Goal by Giving Up the Attempt to Reach It (Oxford, 2008).


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