Monday, November 11, 2013

Cautionary Words from Pseudo-Dionysius

1092B ...Each rank around God conforms more to him than the one farther away. Those closest to the true Light are more capable of receiving light and of passing it on. Do not imagine that the proximate here is physical. Rather what I mean by nearness is the greatest possible capacity to receive God. If then the rank of priests is that most able to pass on illumination, he who does not bestow illumination is thereby excluded from the priestly order and from the power reserved to the priesthood. For he is unilluminated. A man thus deprived is, in my view,  insolent if he muscles in on priestly functions, when, without fear or shame, he unworthily pursues the divine things. He thinks 1092C God knows nothing of what he knows is going on within him. He imagines he can deceive the One whom he falsely calls "Father." He dares to be like Christ and to utter over the divine symbols not anything that I would call prayers but, rather, unholy blasphemies. This is no priest. He is an enemy, deceitful, self-deluded, a wolf in sheep's clothing ready to attack the people of God.

[From the translation by Luibheid and Rorem published by Paulist Press, pp. 274-5.]


1105C ...But let us not suppose that the outward face of these contrived symbols exists for its own sake. Rather, it is the protective garb of the understanding of what is ineffable and invisible to the common multitude. This is so that in order that the most sacred things are not easily handled by the profane but are revealed instead to the real lovers of holiness. Only these latter know how to pack away the workings of childish imagination regarding the sacred symbols. They alone have the simplicity of mind and t he receptive, contemplative power to cross over to the simple, marvelous, transcendent truth of the symbols.

1105D But there is a further point to understand. Theological tradition has a dual aspect, the ineffable and mysterious on the one  hand, the open and more evident on the other. The one resorts to symbolism and involves initiation. The other is philosophic and employs the method of demonstration. (Further, the inexpressible is bound up with what can be articulated. The one uses persuasion and imposes the truthfulness of what is asserted. The other acts and, by means of a mystery which cannot be taught, it puts souls firmly in the presence of God.

[p. 283]


Blogger changeinthewind said...

regrding 1105C

when a Buddhist regards an icon (of the Buddha or a bodhisattva like Kannon) she/he sees a reflection of her own potential. Understood is this perfection is innate but yet unrealized.

Is there a parallel to this in Christian iconography or in its symbolism?

1:25 am, November 12, 2013  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

Yes, I think theosis is very similar, and icons are one way to understand this. Icons are vehicles of beholding...

9:07 am, November 12, 2013  
Blogger changeinthewind said...

thank you. this is interesting.

There is the necessity of an intercessory "bridging" in Christian theosis is there not? Something to span the "gap" between what is transitory and what is eternal. Thus an icon is a reflection of, a means toward, Reality.

I think a Buddhist "sees" no intercessor, no bridge or gate in an icon. The reflection is of the self become Self. That such is present here and now and it is possible with help to become such.

This is like theosis but it is not the same as. the Buddha is not (seen as) the One God. Thus no mediator is deemed necessary?

Wondering who it was decided God incapable of creating imperfect being? Creating is God's business is it not? Seems like a lot of this theological hash is predicated on God cannot create imperfection.

12:35 am, November 13, 2013  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

Depends on what kind of Buddhism you are talking about and what kind of Christianity you are talking about. In some forms they are more alike than not. Everyone has buddha nature in Buddhism and everyone shares the nature of God in one form of Christianity. In Buddhism the task is to 'realise' that buddha-nature and in Christianity to open to theosis.

In these forms of Christianty Christ is not a bridge or a mediator but a process. In both there is an intersection of time and timelessness.

The simplicity in both is not simplistic. Simple in essence, complex to try to put into words.

7:13 am, November 13, 2013  
Blogger changeinthewind said...

Then, as you say, "seek to" is iconic. Perhaps it is Christ. Seems like all this is iconic when point of view comes to encountering it so.

We move around in an icon ... as an icon ... this brings a smile just a tad bit incredulous to my face. I like it.

It is not merely coincidence which is "active" in this if so.

Al Mozol's spiral diagram can be seen as process in more than one direction and there can be many spirals so active. Or. one reflecting all ... all reflecting one ... reflecting all one ...

Huh. Thanks.

5:35 pm, November 13, 2013  

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