Monday, July 8, 2013
Figuring it Out, or Outing the Figure
It seems these days that we are all trying to "figure it out," gathering the confusing data of our lives and putting them all together in order to come up with some sort of meaningful structure. The collected data typically includes personal life problems, distressing emotions and upsetting socio-political events. I would like to suggest a tactical shift. Rather than merely trying to "figure it all out," how about recognizing the existence of an invisible transhuman Presence that seeks to "out the figure"? What does that mean? To "out the figure" means to bring out the figure or image of one's unique self that arrives with us at birth. James Hillman writes: "...each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived...". Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas called this living process of "outing the figure" entelechy, that innate urge that moves each organism toward its goal. For example, each acorn automatically moves toward the oak tree inherent in the seed, yet not just some generic oak tree, but an inimitable tree. Thomas Aquinas made it clear that the ultimate aim of human existence is not about figuring out how to conform to religious morality or some political agenda, but rather allowing Spirit to sculpt the individual into his/her unique expression of God's image. Whether we use the
words Soul or Spirit, the idea is the same: An innate Power greater than the human ego and rational mind is employing all of life's experiences to carve each of us into a unique personality. While the sculpting process can at times be excruciatingly tragic, the final result is always Joy via self realization.
We live in a manic time of "figuring it all out," looking to spiritual gurus with ancient secrets and political regimes with new and improved ideologies. These moral and socio-political engineers concoct their systems, theories and codes in order to "whip us into shape"--but is it the best shape, the figure native to our personal souls? Systems may be useful, if they operate as servants for "outing the figure"--assisting each of us in the deep longing we all feel for becoming fully Human. Beware of any institution or system that attempts to yank the moth from the chrysalis by religious or secular agendas and techniques. Their roles, ideally, ought to be that of providing the safest branch possible from which the soul-making cocoon might hang--allowing maximum freedoms for the worms who are still crawling, the worms who are spinning shells and the worms liquefying in the chrysalis. Too many ministers, politicians and socio-cultural analysts use their masterful powers and positions of mentation to add one more "ism" into our already "over-ismed" world. Their benevolent structures actually hinder soul-making. Institutions work best when they allow humans to experience worm-life, cocoon-making life, liquefaction and transformation--each in his/her own unique style and time frame. At least that is how this worm sees it, today.