17 Joy III
I have recently made a 2-part presentation on the subject of Joy; next week my final meditation on joy will come from a few sayings of Kierkegaard, but today we will continue discussing the subject, drawing on some ideas of Novalis, DesCartes, Kant, and Schopenhauer. But first here are some scriptures whose relevance to the subject will be gradually revealed:
Song of Solomon 8:13-14
"Thou that dwellest in the gardens,
the companions hearken to thy voice:
cause me to hear it.
Make haste, my beloved,"
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."
2 Corinthians 5:2
"Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in
believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
John 15: 11
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
I have been led to ponder this subject more deeply because I am still not satisfied with my own appreciation of "joy". There is so much written about it, that one quickly perceives that the great philosophers and saints have also not been satisfied with a shallow appreciation of it either.
We will be looking at the above mentioned philosophers, because the experience of joy is inextricably linked to what we call "inner" experience. Inner experience is, in turn linked to the general idea of "thought" and that, in turn, leads us to the mind/body dichotomy, a principle which has dominated philosophical speculation since DesCartes, and the advent of the so-called "modern" age, starting about the year 1600. I'm no expert on the subject, but my impression is that between 1600 and 1900 the central concern of philosophers was the recognition and articulate description what is real; all their arguments attempt to clarify the relationship between this "inner reality" of "thought" and the "outer reality" of material existence. Therefore, the subjects of "thinking" and "knowing" are pretty high on the list of considerations when we face the vastness subsumed under the subject heading: "joy".
As usual, C.S. Lewis, was my immediate cue, because the subject of joy pervades his work, even to the extent that his autobiography, the tale of his conversion to Christianity is entitled Surprised by Joy. One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is:
"Joy is the serious business of Heaven."
Be warned, at the outset, that C.S. Lewis' definition of "Joy" is most complex, and has little of the implication of "Happiness" in it--it is much more a spiritual state of mind linked to the German philosophical concept "sehnsucht". Because the concept of Sehnsucht is so important in Lewis' writing, the Arizona C. S. Lewis Society titled their annual journal Sehnsucht: The C. S. Lewis Journal.
Sehnsucht is a German noun translated as "longing", "yearning", or "craving", or in a wider sense a type of "intensely missing".
[Sidebar: remember the scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:2:
"Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our
and Proverbs 13:12:
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."
In the following discussion we will attempt to make plain this principle:
if we can take the experience of longing for a future heavenly dwelling, and, through impulse of desire, project ourselves into that future, we will have found the surest pathway to joy.
Back to Wikipedia:]
"However, Sehnsucht is difficult to translate adequately and describes a deep emotional state. Its meaning is somewhat similar to the Portuguese word, saudade, or the Romanian word dor. The stage director and author Georg Tabori called Sehnsucht one of those quasi-mystical terms in German for which there is no satisfactory corresponding term in another language. Sehnsucht is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (das Sehnen) and addiction (die Sucht). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.
Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes. Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. This produces what has often been described as an ambiguous emotional occurrence."
[Sidebar: It is precisely the ambiguity of Joy that is driving me crazy, and is driving me to find an answer that will satisfy my mind; the joke is, of course, and I know this, that all the while my mind is searching for closure of a philosophical point, my heart is drinking, unconcerned, at the stream.
One comfortable thought I get from sehnsucht is this: true joy must be prophetic--the longing, the missing, the imperfection, is pleasurable because it can see the future discarnate spiritual state of man, and transport that future state of mind back to the present; the having and the not-having become integrated in a cross-temporal event. Thus, longing is represented by the night awaiting the moment when it will break into eternal day.
Back to Wikipedia's comments on sehnsucht:]
"It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call "home". In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word. At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for. The experience is one of such significance that ordinary reality may pale in comparison, as in Walt Whitman's closing lines to Song of the Universal:
"Is it a dream?Nay but the lack of it the dream,And failing it life's lore and wealth a dreamAnd all the world a dream."
[Sidebar: At the end of Lewis' The Last Battle, we see an exodus of souls marching up the hill toward the real England--the England that existed before the material England. This return the "the real England" is just such a return to the nostalgic source all real homes. The cry is "further up and further in" because the inner is bigger than the outer. One wonders which is the more powerful feeling, the going home or the arriving at home. Do we ever get all the way home, or does the joy of arriving mount and mount into an infinite ecstasy? I also wonder, how we could be missing home, being nostalgic for home, if we have never been there before?
Back to Wikipedia:]
Sehnsucht took on a particular significance in the work of author C. S. Lewis. Lewis described Sehnsucht as the "inconsolable longing" in the human heart for "we know not what." In the afterword to the third edition of The Pilgrim's Regress he provided examples of what sparked this desire in him particularly:"That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan", the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves."
Psychologists have worked to capture the essence of Sehnsucht by identifying its six core characteristics:(a) utopian conceptions of ideal development;Some researchers posit that Sehnsucht has a developmental function that involves life management. By imagining overarching and possibly unachievable goals, individuals may be able to create direction in their life by developing more tangible goals, or “stepping stones” that will aide them on their path toward their ideal self. Sehnsucht has important developmental functions, including giving directionality for life planning and helping to cope with loss and important, yet unattainable wishes by pursuing them in one's imagination."
(b) sense of incompleteness and imperfection of life;
(c) conjoint time focus on the past, present, and future;
(d) ambivalent (bittersweet) emotions;
(e) reflection and evaluation of one's life; and
(f) symbolic richness.
The first of the main influences on C.S. Lewis' life-long quest for joy, sehnsucht, was Novalis. Novalis was the pen name of the German poet and philosopher Georg Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (1772-1801). He was not such a hot poet, if you ask me, but the depth of the philosophy embedded in his poetry (like Kahlil Gibran, or Rabindranath Tagore, for that matter) make it well worth reading.
"In August 1800, eight months after completion, the revised edition of the Hymnen an die Nacht was published in the Athenaeum. They are often considered to be the climax of Novalis’ lyrical works and the most important poetry of the German early Romanticism.
The six Hymns to the Night contain many elements which can be understood as autobiographical. Even though a lyrical "I", rather than Novalis himself, is the speaker, there are many relationships between the hymns and Hardenberg’s experiences from 1797 to 1800.
The topic is the romantic interpretation of life and death, the threshold of which is symbolised by the night. Life and death are – according to Novalis – developed into entwined concepts. So in the end, death is the romantic principle of life.
The Hymns to the Night display a universal religion with an intermediary. This concept is based on the idea that there is always a third party between a human and God."
[Sidebar: We will majorly come back to this.]
Here is a section from Novalis' Hymns to the Night #5; the six poems are very prohibitively long, for our purposes, but they are prophetic in more than one sense. #5 begins in the dark of the world before the coming of the Messiah, and describes the night as the mother of the soon-to-be-born savior of men:
"It was just a thought, A ghastly dream-image,
Which came grimly to the happy table
And shrouded the mood in wild horrors.
Here even the gods knew no advice
That would comfort the anxious heart.
Full of secrets was this monster’s path
Whose wrath wasn’t dispelled by plea or offer;
It was death that furnished this orgy
With fear and anguish and tears.
Now forever quarantined from all
That the heart rains in sweet pleasure,
Separated from the beloved ones, the yearning
Bestowed here below, moved by long woe,
A dull dream appeared only to him doomed to death,
Him only burdened with impotent struggle.
Broken was the wave of pleasure
On the rock of endless frustration.
With bold spirit and lofty enthusiasm
The man beautified the horrible mask,
A gentle youth extinguishes the light and rests—
The end will be gentle like a sigh of the harp.
Memory melts in the cool flood of shadows,
So sang the song to doleful abjection.
But eternal night remained undeciphered,
The grave symbol of a remote power.
The ancient world declined towards its end.
The pleasure garden of the young race faded—
unchildlike, maturing mankind strove upwards into freer, desolate space.
The gods disappeared with their retinue—
Nature stood solitary and lifeless.
Arid numbers and rigid measures bound it up in iron chains.
With grim words, the immeasurable lifebloods disintegrated as if into dust or air.
Absent was the beseeching faith and the all-changing, all-uniting relish of heaven: fantasy.
A cold north wind blew grimly over the petrified meadow, and the petrified wonder-homeland
flew off into the ether.
The distant realms of heaven filled themselves with illuminating worlds.
Into deeper sanctuary, into a realm of higher consciousness,
the soul of the world retreated with its powers—
to reign there until the dawn of world splendor.
No longer was the light the divine dwelling and heavenly symbol—
they cast the shroud of night over themselves.
Night became the powerful womb of revelation—
into which the gods returned—
went to sleep, in order to emerge in new splendid form over the transformed world. "
[Sidebar: You can begin to get something of the sense of sehnsucht from this passage; the dark of night is cold, desolate, stark; but contained in it is the potential for transformation into splendor. These poems would be good to read at advent; you will note that much of this language is similar to the language of Steiner that we listened to so much of last Christmas.
Back to Wikipedia:]
"In the book Heinrich von Ofterdingen the blue flower symbolises the joining of human with nature and the spirit so the understanding of nature and coincident of the self is growing. In the Romantic the meaning of human was a continuation from Humanism and the Age of Enlightenment, but the focus was on subjective emotions not on abstract theory. Understanding and thinking rise in the comprehension of Romantic from own individual love.
Feeling is based on the self,
thinking is based on the self,
and the development of the self creates the individual person.
Also very important is contemplation:
and the personal inward cognition
make feeling possible--they raise the bar such that sensitivity to higher intelligence, higher consciousness and higher reality become possible, and more and more possible, in the subjective reality of the devotee. The process of cognition merges again with personal, individual love. The self and nature are always linked in this theory."
Linked to the concept of "sehnsucht" is the idea of Transcendental idealism. This is a philosophical concept put on the map by Kant, but which was taken up by many 19th century philosophers. Below is Schopenhauer's concise definition:
"Schopenhauer described transcendental idealism as a "distinction between the phenomenon and the thing in itself, and a recognition that only the phenomenon is accessible to us because "we do not know either ourselves or things as they are in themselves, but merely as they appear." Some of Schopenhauer's comments on the definition of the word "transcendental" are as follows:
"Transcendental is the philosophy that makes us aware of the fact that the first and essential laws of this world that are presented to us are rooted in our brain and are therefore known a priori."
[Sidebar: I have used the term a priori several times in past months, and it is time, just to be sure, to supply you with a simple definition of that term: it basically means "from before", or maybe "known at the outset". The dictionary gives three flavors:
1. from a general law to a particular instance; valid independently of observation.
2. existing in the mind prior to and independent of experience, as a faculty or character trait.
3. not based on prior study or examination; nonanalytic: an a priori judgment.
In a few moments, we will have much to say about archetypes, and the collective unconscious; and I think we should get straight, right now, that I am suggesting an equality between the terms a priori and archetype. I ask you, what better definition of archetype could there be than: an articulate symbol of a priori knowledge--knowledge from before.
Therefore, from here on out, when Schopenhauer and Kant use the term transcendental we will be thinking collective unconscious. The idea of the collective unconscious had not been introduced into philosophical thinking until a more than hundred years after Kant's work with a priori concepts, but, to me, they are equivalent references to the same thing. The only difference may be that the a priori concept is chained to a strict logical system that resists including spiritual, non-provable elements, whereas, the collective unconscious practically begs to be expanded into a dogma of transcendent spirituality.
Back to Schopenhauer:]
"Transcendental is the philosophy that makes us aware of the fact that the first and essential laws of this world that are presented to us are rooted in our brain and are therefore known a priori.
It is called transcendental because it goes beyond the whole given phantasmagoria to the origin thereof. Therefore, as I have said, only the Critique of Pure Reason and generally the critical (that is to say, Kantian) philosophy are transcendental."
From here, we will be spending some time with the philosophy of Kant. We do this because he has many interesting things to say about "knowing". However, I must first mention that Kant was an atheist, and says, repeatedly, that his system can find no proof for the existence of God, or the immortality of the soul. Why repeat the words of an atheist here in church?
Well, like other philosophers and psychologists I have referenced from this pulpit, many people are not ALL WRONG, Julian Jaynes, for instance. Kant's reflections on knowing and intuition are brilliantly concise and helpful as far as they go, they just (like Jaynes) don't go far enough. Thus, this presentation will consist not only of an appreciation of Kant and his contribution to the science of thinking, but a refutation of Kant in his failure to incorporate faith, higher modes of spiritual thought, into his philosophical system--an omission, the correction of which, might have satisfied all of his unanswered questions.
Now Wikipedia's summary of Kant's Transcendantal idealism:
"Perhaps the best way to approach transcendental idealism is by looking at Kant's account of how we intuit (Ge: anschauen) objects, and that task demands looking at his accounts of space and of time. Before Kant, some thinkers, such as Leibniz, had decided that space and time were not things, but only the relations among things. Other thinkers, including Newton, maintained that space and time were real things or substances. Leibniz had arrived at a radically different understanding of the universe and the things found in it.
According to his Monadology, all things that humans ordinarily understand as interactions between and relations among individuals (such as their relative positions in space and time) have their being in the mind of God but not in the Universe where we perceive them to be.
In the view of realists, individual things interact by physical connection and the relations among things are mediated by physical processes that connect them to human brains and give humans a determinate chain of action to them and correct knowledge of them.
Kant was aware of problems with both of these positions. He had been influenced by the physics of Newton and understood that there is a physical chain of interactions between things perceived and the one who perceives them. However, an important function of mind is to structure incoming data and to process it in ways that make it other than a simple mapping of outside data.
If we try to keep within the framework of what can be proved by the Kantian argument, we can say that it is possible to demonstrate the empirical reality of space and time, that is to say, the objective validity of all spatial and temporal properties in mathematics and physics. But this empirical reality involves transcendental ideality; space and time are forms of human intuition, and they can only be proved valid for things as they appear to us and not for things as they are in themselves.
The salient element here is that space and time, rather than being real things-in-themselves or empirically mediated appearances (Ge: Erscheinungen), are the very forms of intuition (Ge: Anschauung) by which we must perceive objects. They are hence neither to be considered properties that we may attribute to objects in perceiving them, nor substantial entities of themselves. They are in that sense subjective, yet necessary, preconditions of any given object insofar as this object is an appearance and not a thing-in-itself."
[Sidebar: Lest we get too tangled up in this hard-to-understand language, let's focus for a minute on the ideas that relate directly to Joy; I mean this:
"space and time, rather than being real things-in-themselves or empirically mediated appearances, are the very forms of intuition by which we must perceive objects."If we merely transpose the words "forms of intuition" to "expressions of Epiphany" we begin to see where I am heading with this. Forms of intuition may also be translated as, "archetypal forms". All this talk about whether the world is real or not, in the head or the hand, boils down to this: reality exists in a hard and fast physical dimension, as do thoughts, for that matter--but there is an EXTRA thing that pervades and interpenetrates this reality: the intuition, which, if it is truly what we have described it as, in previous sermons, is the corner of eternity that touches and enlightens all aspects of the mundane dimension, including our minds -- not our brains but our minds! It is the intuition that translates all forms into archetypal forms! It is the intuition that translates all stories into myths!
Kant goes on to suggest that there are two kinds of intuition:
1. logical intuition and
2. sensual intuition.This grouping concisely summarizes the whole mind/body dichotomy, brought to light by DesCartes. The problems it uncovers inevitably lead the way back to the idea that two is not enough--there is THIRD thing that is necessary to make the system work. Notice that Kant has not managed to get far away from DesCartes because his system is still dualistic. Two cancel each other out no matter how hard he tries to prove otherwise--it is the THIRD thing, the conduit, that allows the energy to flow from the abstract to the physical; the missing third element we will be looking for comes later, and is invisible to a man who does not believe in the tangible reality of faith--but more on that later.
Back to Wikipedia:]
Kant's revolutionary claim is that the form of appearances — which he later identifies as space and time — is a contribution made by the faculty of sensation to cognition, rather than something that exists independently of the mind. This is the thrust of Kant's doctrine of the transcendental ideality of space and time.
[Sidebar: Once again, we sense in the expression "transcendental ideality of space and time" the sense of archetype. An archetype is an ideal, a paradigm. Thus, Kant's transcendental logic MUST refer to the way our minds become connected to the collective mind!]
"Kant's arguments for this conclusion are widely debated among Kant scholars. Some see the argument as based on Kant's conclusions that our representation of space and time is an a priori intuition."
"From here Kant is thought to argue that our representation of space and time as a priori intuitions entails that space and time are transcendentally ideal."
[Sidebar: How could it be otherwise? They are ideal because they are spiritual--they are created out of the mind of God, and are therefore eternal.
However, there is still the problem of the mundane mind's appreciation of the divine mind. It must be understood that "He who succeeds in seeing what is completely true will be unaware of it." The limits of cognition are just below the border of higher consciousness. Of this, Kant has this to say:]
"Through observation and analysis of appearances we penetrate to nature's inner recesses, and no one can say how far this knowledge may in time extend. But with all this knowledge, and even if the whole of nature were revealed to us, we should still never be able to answer those transcendental questions which go beyond nature. The reason of this is that it is not given to us to observe our own mind with any other intuition than that of inner sense; and that it is yet precisely in the mind that the secret of the source of our sensibility is located."
In spite of Kant's realization that there is "a secret . . . source of our sensibility", he still can't really admit to it as something we can talk about: verily, verily I say unto you, there is a form of cognition that TRANSCENDS mundane cognition, and it is available to all who develop sensitivity to nonverbal experience-- we must become sensitive to higher vibrations. Jaynes and Kant seem to have an argument for the existence of spirit staring them in the face, and they just won't see it!]
Instead he quibbles with DesCartes:
The Soul is substance
"Every one of my thoughts and judgments is based on the presupposition "I think." "I" is the subject and the thoughts are the predicates. Yet I should not confuse the ever-present logical subject of my every thought with a permanent, immortal, real substance (soul). The logical subject is a mere idea, not a real substance. Unlike Descartes who believes that the soul may be known directly through reason, Kant asserts that no such thing is possible. Descartes declares cogito ergo sum but Kant denies that any knowledge of "I" may be possible. "I" is only the background of the field of apperception and as such lacks the experience of direct intuition that would make self-knowledge possible. This implies that the self in itself could never be known. Like Hume, Kant rejects knowledge of the "I" as substance. For Kant, the "I" that is taken to be the soul is purely logical and involves no intuitions. The "I" is the result of the a priori consciousness continuum not of direct intuition a posteriori."
[Sidebar: There's the problem:
"the "I" that is taken to be the soul is purely logical and involves no intuitions"BAH FRICKIN LONEY!!--The intuition is on a level of reality higher than the purely logical, and therefore deserves a place in philosophy higher than the purely logical.
"It is apperception as the principle of unity in the consciousness continuum that dictates the presence of "I" as a singular logical subject of all the representations of a single consciousness. Although "I" seems to refer to the same "I" all the time, it is not really a permanent feature but only the logical characteristic of a unified consciousness."
[Sidebar: There he goes again, so close, and yet so far from the point:
"the presence of "I" as a singular logical subject of all the representations of a single consciousness"is an elegant, very solid definition of GOD! But he then goes on to say,
"it is not really a permanent feature but only the logical characteristic of a unified consciousness"Why not? Why not permanent? It is because the mind cannot contain all the spirit has to give; that is why spiritual experience is always dynamic, always moving, always evolving; the idea of permanence implies stasis, and spirit is never static except in its wholeness as the infinite being; in small sections the wholeness is invisible--it's like we are trying to see the Grand Canyon all at once, and can only succeed it seeing little fragments of it one at a time. The soul integrates these fragments into a whole, but the mind can still not take it all in except OUTSIDE TIME.]
More on DesCartes; I really like this for how clever it is, but it still leaves out the eternal as a factor in the equation he is trying to derive:
The Soul is simple
"The only use or advantage of asserting that the soul is simple is to differentiate it from matter and therefore prove that it is immortal, but the substratum of matter may also be simple. Since we know nothing of this substratum, both matter and soul may be fundamentally simple and therefore not different from each other. Then the soul may decay, as does matter. It makes no difference to say that the soul is simple and therefore immortal. Such a simple nature can never be known through experience. It has no objective validity. According to Descartes, the soul is indivisible. This paralogism (invalid argument or conclusion) mistakes the unity of apperception for the unity of an indivisible substance called the soul. It is a mistake that is the result of the first paralogism. It is impossible that thinking could be composite for if the thought by a single consciousness were to be distributed piecemeal among different consciousnesses, the thought would be lost. According to Kant, the most important part of this proposition is that a multi-faceted presentation requires a single subject. This paralogism misinterprets the metaphysical oneness of the subject by interpreting the unity of apperception as being indivisible and the soul simple as a result. According to Kant, the simplicity of the soul as Descartes believed cannot be inferred from the "I think" as it is assumed to be there in the first place. Therefore, it is a tautology."
[Sidebar: Here is the cornerstone of Kant's atheism:
"In order to have coherent thoughts, I must have an "I" that is not changing and that thinks the changing thoughts. Yet we cannot prove that there is a permanent soul or an undying "I" that constitutes my person. I only know that I am one person during the time that I am conscious."
[Sidebar: To review an earlier Kant comment:
"Every one of my thoughts and judgments is based on the presupposition "I think." "I" is the subject and the thoughts are the predicates. Yet I should not confuse the ever-present logical subject of my every thought with a permanent, immortal, real substance (soul). The logical subject is a mere idea, not a real substance."Wrong, Mr. Kant! The subject is included in the predicate;
God is the subject of all predicates, the sum total of all reality, the infinitive that connects every subject to its predicate;
to act or to do is to follow the form of a divinely inspired template;
hence higher consciousness includes MORAL consciousness, and good is performed in the moral imagination, which leads the subject's thoughts into reality, a reality of higher vibrational frequency, and even of mundane reality, both together.
Criticism, to Kant is mobilization of inners powers to a heightened degree. By criticism, the limits of our knowledge are proved from principles, not from mere personal experience.]
[ARCHETYPE! in other words, the ideal reality is always leaning in on the periphery of our mundane consciousness, and, if the subject is SENSITIVE, this subtle intrusion may be powerful enough to leave its imprint of higher reality, like a cowboy putting brand on a cow-- the nature of this level of consciousness is that impressions of sense are experienced as principles, and in that sense as paradigms, as archetypes--all residents of the mythological dimension. Hence when we DO anything thing we are, to some degree, coloring inside the lines of a template already written in our DNA, performing a script already written.]
Kant's philosophy contains a hole that can only be filled by spiritual experience and understanding. If sense and understanding may be thought of as springing from the same root, it is an inevitable conclusion that, at some point their separate branches will converge at a common root. This root unites sense experience and thought into a higher level mode of cognition. If we spend enough tine in this modality, we will develop FAITH. Faith is not without its scruples--it grows by increments--first a little leap of faith (that first one's actually a doozy) and then more and more little leaps of faith, until we have completely surrounded ourselves with the armor of God, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Why are philosophers so insensitive to the presence of spirit? Do their words, does the mass of their verbal structures actually BLOCK the transduction of spirit into flesh. One of the keys is to freely admit that, after all our words are spoken, we truly know nothing. Me must only remember this: it is Jesus alone, who provides the missing link. Remember the paragraph above:
The Hymns to the Night display a universal religion with an intermediary. This concept is based on the idea that there is always a third party between a human and God.
1st Timothy 2:5 says this:
There is one God. There is also one mediator between God and human beings-a human, the Messiah Jesus.
To look forward a little to next week, Kierkegaard says this:
"Worldly wisdom is of the opinion that love is a relationship between persons; Christianity teaches that love is a relationship between: a person– God -a person, that is, that God is the middle term. To love God is to love oneself truly; to help another person to love God is to love another person; to be helped by another person to love God is to be loved."
This third party is, in spite of the overwhelmingly huge number of His various manifestations, Jesus always emerges as the ultimate source of all spiritual experience because it was His sacrifice that empowered Him to act an the intermediary between Man and God.
The contemplation of, the evocation of, the experience of Jesus' presence is so bittersweet in the having and the missing, the looking forward to and the cherishing in the moment. The longing, the missing, hurts so much, but the drawing into our minds of Jesus' blessed assurance, puts our fretting to rest; and the peace that wells from that spring is timelessly eternal. It is a divine invasion, where His heart becomes my heart. It flows over me and pushes up the corners of my mouth. It puts a smile on my face through tears. It puts the bittersweet mysterious Mona Lisa smile on my face, and I am comforted, assuaged, taken in. The mundane now transposed into the heavenly future creates a synthetic eternal now that is supported, sustained, and enlivened by the divine yet articulate personality of Jesus. Jesus is joy.
It will be remembered that a two of the scripture readings I quoted at the beginning involved the word "hope".
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in
believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may
abound in hope.
I have never such a big fan of hope, maybe because C.S. Lewis was not such a big fan of hope: hope, by definition resides in the future, and the future can be most unspiritual time dimension,
especially when people live for the future. But we do not really as much have hope FOR the future as hope IN the future-- that is to say, we use hope to bring the essence of the future into the present; this the synthetic eternal now mentioned above. Remember the principle I suggested earlier:
if we can take the experience of longing for a future heavenly dwelling, and, through impulse of desire, project of ourselves into that future, we will have found the surest pathway to joy.
Clearly, "hope" and "joy" are practically synonymous; hope is the technique of focussing our desires on a faith-generated plane of reality, and either projecting ourselves forward into that reality, or bringing that reality down to our own personal present. It doesn't matter which, because the mediator between the human and the divine is still Jesus, and He still has the last word (ha ha).
The last scripture of today practically sums up in concise detail the message I have given today:
1 Peter 1:8-9
"Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
Let us pray: Jesus, it is You we see before us when we see our best selves; it is You we feel when we are in deepest peace; it is You who comforts us and cheers us in our despair, by delivering the joys to come in an ecstasy of heavenly now. Amen