A Paper V
It cannot be emphasized enough that both aspects of knowing must work together. It is most emphatically NOT the case that one is 'good' and the other is 'bad'. Both Walsh and Zinn make their mistakes because they are using a merely linear approach to these texts, that is to say, a post-Cartesian model of the mind; they do not understand that both Richard and the Cloud-author are trying to teach ways to open to deep mind, that they are using a model of two ways of knowing.
Similar problems emerge in Karsten Harries' Infinity and Perspective in his analysis of Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa.(17) In taking a merely linear and rigidly controlling approach, he completely misses the point of what all three of these authors are trying to do. He raises the question of why these authors who are so profoundly incarnational, at the apex of their vision seem to denigrate creation by leaving it behind. This of course is a gross misunderstanding of the process that Bonaventure, Eckhart and Cusa (and many others) are trying to teach: Harries has mistaken their descriptions of method, of an intentional shift of attention, for a dualistic transcendence. In fact, all three authors understand that re-centering in deep mind incarnates a person more deeply in his or her body, and in the creation; that a life of contemplation is living the ordinary through transfigured perception.
In fact, the process of re-centering in the deep mind is the way that human beings realize their incarnation: re-centering restores the proper balance and flow between deep mind and self-conscious mind. When a person is centered in self-conscious mind, he or she is living in a fantasy world. Re-centering in the deep mind by doing the work of silence re-integrates and roots the person in his or her body.
For example, Eckhart says, 'So in truth, no creaturely skill, nor your own wisdom, nor all your knowledge, can enable you to know God divinely. For you to know God in God's way, your knowing must be a pure unknowing, and a forgetting of yourself and all creatures'.(18) In this he is not rejecting the material creation but rather indicating a simple shift in attention away from the self–conscious mind and its phantasmagoric constructs and concerns to the direct perception and transfiguring qualities of deep mind.
This shift away from the self–conscious mind to the deep mind is often signposted by paradox, as is evident in Bonaventure. The Itinerarium builds to the end of Book VI, where there appears a sudden string of paradoxes. Book VII then speaks in praise of silence. Again, the thoroughly grounded and incarnational Bonaventure is not denying incarnation, he is simply signalling this change of focus, the eliding of self–consciousness, and the attentive receptivity of beholding beyond unknowing.(19) This engenders the ability to see God in all created things as a function of deification.
(17) Karsten Harries, Infinity and Perspective (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002).
(18) Meister Eckhart, ' Et cum factus esset Jesus annorum duodecim, etc.', in Karsten Harries, Infinity and Perspective (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 177.
(19) Bonaventure (Classics of Western Spirituality), translated by Ewert Cousins, Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1978.