Technologies Of Transformation: From Mysticism to Recovery
By Antonio T. de Nicolas, PhD
The present paper is an attempt to clarify certain technologies that have come down to us as mystical and yet are the conditions for any creative human act. In these acts we include those needed by people in recovery, and what we name mystical. By mystical experience we refer particularly to an experience which has come to us historically – early Christians, John of the Cross, Ignatius de Loyola, Teresa de Avila, etc. – rather than contemporary “oceanic” experiences not yet historical or verifiable. And what is true of Christianity applies equally to Hinduism and Buddhism, that claim as their origin an experience which is strictly out of time
The strategy I will follow in this clarification will focus primarily on Images, language, and the technologies by which ordinary experience is transformed into extraordinary or mystical experience. To simplify, I will concentrate on Christianity and use as a reference point the model of “creation out of nothing” to clarify the role of creativity and experience; secondly, I will try to make sense of the different uses of imagination in this tradition in relation both to mystical experience and to the “imago Dei” to which human kind before the fall resembled; and finally, the particular epistemologies and their technologies of the two states we humans may choose in order to know: the imaginative and the technologies proper to it and the cognitive and the technologies proper to it.
As a reference point I will summarize the argument of this paper in what I consider the epigram of Christianity: John of the Cross.
John of the Cross
John of the Cross, somehow, seems to have come to this world to offer us in his own life and body an epigram of Christianity. Though he wrote theology for the Inquisition of his time, he disclaimed any direct connection between the theology he was writing and his experience by stating at the beginning of his writings in prose that he would be most willing to write something else if the Inquisition so desired or ordered him. Experience was his pursuit – the kind of experience that originated Christianity itself, the experience of the will of God creating a new world, or transforming a world already created. For this purpose John of the Cross rejected all cognitive skills, all sensuous imaginings, all tangible apprehension and chose to walk “in the dark.” He rejected understanding, memory, and will in the manner of their “cognitive” operation and proclaimed his method as the method that makes experience empty of all these skills. But this experience has to be understood as a total bodily experience and not just an intellectual intuition. For John pursued and prayed that his senses be empty of all normal and ordinary sensing and sensitization. He literally turned his method into desensitizing his own body from the habits of sensation and opened it to new habits through new technologies. His Superiors and the world around collaborated, for he was not persecuted by the world or Islam but suffered abuse and imprisonment at the hands of the priests of his own Order and fathers of the Church. His body suffered the effects of corruption; it became full of abscesses and sores, it stunk, and it was full of pus. Yet at the moment of his death, this same body underwent a transformation; it became clear, clean, and let out a sweet smell that would communicate to those that touched him as if they “had been handling flowers.” The experience of union John experienced did not only involve some form of technologies and habits of the transformation of experience from ordinary to mystical, but it also involved some form of transformation of the flesh and the world.
The public domain of this experience cannot be found in his prose writings; he disclaims this transformation there. These prose writings are the public domain of the theology of the times, of cognitive skills, and of repetitions of a theoretical world his experience denied. The public domain of his writings originated by his mystical experience are to be found in his poetry and above all, in his own technologies, his path, that transformed, when repeated, his ordinary life into that of an epigram of Christianity.
Let me now give you another story, this time not of an individual but a group in pursuit of the same transformation: the early Christians.
The Early Christians
History, of course, is the best therapy for pessimism. What is wrong is usually our own choosing and it is also what we have decided to forget. In this case the forgetfulness lies in the fact that experience and the public domain are originally autonomous; we could say they are opposed to each other.
When the first disciples of Christ decided to write the Gospels and put down their experience of Jesus, they could do no better than reduce this experience to the linguistic habits of the Jewish audience. Matthew relived the experience of Jesus in his ministries as a verification of the Jewish Scriptures, of all that had been prophesied about Jesus the Messiah. Mark and Luke stretched this narration to cover the childhood of Jesus, making this childhood coincide with the Old Testament stories and expectations. When John, or his community, wrote the fourth Gospel, the audience and the linguistic habits were different and so was the Gospel: a gospel that begins before time in the experience of the Trinity itself. The physicality of Jesus disappears and the language of his Image (and technology), and through this mediation the experience is made to reach beyond the physical Jesus, the Patriarchs to the Trinity, the second Person, Christ, who was from the beginning the origin of an experience that has already happened.3 Paul, who never saw Jesus, proclaims his own vision of Jesus on a par with that of the Apostles who saw Him. Neither Paul’s nor that of the Apostles’ was an experience originated on external physical perceptions of images abstracted from those perceptions. Theirs was an inner revelation, an inner transformation from the inside out and not vice versa. This transformation affected not only the public domain but transformed the flesh and the world: “It is not I that lives any longer, but Christ lives in me,” (“Vivo autem, iam not ego, sed Christus vivit in me”), in the words of St. Paul. A Christianity without this experience would have been unimaginable to the early Christians. But an experience that cannot transcend into the public domain and transform it would have made Christianity impossible.
Creation and Transformation
What separated Christianity form the many mystery religions, moral reformers, freelance worshippers, and groups that followed specific rites was the Will of God, the epistemology of the Will of God. T his epistemology did imply that the world was and, therefore, could be created out of nothing or, conversely, that the act of creation, human or divine, required as a first step the cancellation of the existing world, that of God or that of wo/man. This Will of God had so limited itself in the act of creation that it gave free will to the humans it created. While the original state of the created wo/man was God’s Image and was seen by God to be good, the subsequent choice of knowing differently by wo/man introduced in the world rift and division in the act of knowing itself: it introduced the fall. This was a different and lower form of knowing dependent of wo/men criteria for rational principles and cultural usage’s, dependent on wo/men away from God. While the knowledge of the original Image is unitary, the knowledge of the fall is diverse, multiple, and stands on human abstractions, not God’s Will as its ground. Historically, both grounds of knowing are in opposition; their first historical reconciliation is the death of Christ at the Cross. The second historical reconciliation is the Way of the mystics and the technologies they devised for the passage from the way of knowing through cognitive skills and ideologies humans invented, to the way of knowing identical or close to the original Image of God’s creation itself and the technologies derived from the model of the original act of creation.
The history of Christianity is a mixed account of public failures and individual or community successes in bringing about the redemption of humans. The individual successes are these we are clarifying as the mystic experience, while the public failures are mostly the lack of a public Christian domain or philosophy or Christian culture. Nothing like that has ever happened.
The public domain has always been a philosophy from below, a way of knowing through principles of logic, belief and opinion, and ideology where the Will of God is absent or forgotten or even antagonistic. Christians, even Fathers of the Church are guilty. Augustin, more Roman in inner technological skills than Christian, was the first one to introduce ideology in the Will of God by equating the Trinity to the normal faculties of cognition inherited from Greek epistemology.Greece has shaped the Christian public domain even more than Judaism as much for Christians as for Communists. The history of the public domain is in fact the technologies to vindicate and glorify the State, the Father, morality according to rational order, obedience, the Law, the book, time, strife, and the masculine way of knowing we are all so familiar with, 6 The mystics, on the other hand, offer faith as the most exact and immediate way of knowing, the texts, the mother, origins, feelings, sacrifice, continuity, creation, and the feminine. In their reconciliation we have our future and salvation.
The Technologies of Transformation
Human experience divides into the experience of I and not-I. The experience of I involves always a subject as the beginning, middle, and end of such experience The technologies to reinforce and habitualize this I experience are those of cognitive skills, fantasy, and sensuous imagining. The different epistemologies of the history of philosophy are primarily built for the reinforcement of these kind of technologies. These technologies are so called, since Plato and Aristotle, because their repetitions not only create habits in humans but eventually reduce human capacity to those technologies. the human body is the repository and witness of these technologies, for it operates on the assumption that by repeating those technologies on itself, it is guaranteed identity, permanence, and continuity till crisis, death, or corruption overcome it.
Fantasy and its technologies is linked to the sense of I in so far as it starts, moves, and ends always in a subject. It lives and dies within the story of that subject.
Imagining in so far as it is practiced for the sake of a subject, is pure fantasy. Also, in so far as it originates as an abstraction from the senses, imagining, as Kant already stated, is only a sensuous synthesis that makes judgments of fact and their repetition possible.
Creative imagining and the technologies accompanying it are of a different kind. Technically, these technologies are a revolution against nothing. Or more explicitly, the first act of these technologies is the cancellation of the other technologies of the sense of I to lead to the experience of the not-I or, in our case, of the Will of God.9
Why have these technologies not been part of Western History of philosophy or for that matter of Theology? The public domain has been in the hands of the technologies and epistemologies of nature. Since Plato and Aristotle, through Kant and Husserl, nature was the foundation of public discourse and inquiry. It controlled the public domain since the only language available was a translation into the language of nature of any and all kinds of experiences and findings. This language grounded private as well as public inquiry from theology to astro travel, from the organism to personal life. The Inquisition of the XVIth Century, and all the other inquisitions following and previous to it relied on this epistemology to proclaim truths of logic to which all experience had to be conformed, at least in speech.
The veil of the epistemology of nature over the epistemology of the Will of God has been so complete that individuals find it almost impossible to talk of anything that is not natural, and, vice versa, what is not natural is either heretic or private or irrational and better left unsaid.
On the other hand, Imagining at the origin is an experience of the world, the not-I. Its origin, middle and end, its unity is always the world, an immediate, witnessed, exciting, consuming, total world. How to make sense of this experience? We will proceed as we started, by focusing on the technologies that make it be. The Zen master Yasutani Roshi, instructing his disciples, identified for us the threshold of these transformation technologies. He said: “Your enemy is your discursive thought which leads you to differentiate yourself on one side of an imaginary line from what is not you on the other side of this non-existing line.” The first exercises or technologies are, therefore, directed to cancel discursive thought, at least momentarily, and the worlds and sensations it carries with it. The reason for this strategy is simple. The early Christians and the XVIth Century mystics would only accept a world originated and resting in the Will of God, not in the will and intelligence of humans; or they would transform the ordinary world to make it a myriad of memory-points of the will, presence, and original act of creation of God Himself. But this transformation, from an epistemology of nature to that of the will of God, is not a transformation of conceptual schemes; it is, on the contrary, a complete transformation of the world and primarily of the experience of that world as the living presence of the Image made flesh. In other words, it is not sufficient to think about it. A whole resensitization process of the human experiencer is needed, and the exercises and technologies for that human transformation is what the epistemology of the will of God and the mystical legacy has left us as a larger possibility of human-experiencing.
Technically speaking, however, we may take our example from the philosophy of nature of Classical Physics. While on the one hand it started the beginning of our gigantic external technological progress, on the other it was done at the expense of a dramatic reductionism in human capacities. It developed sophisticated technologies to verify itself in the world, while at the same time it used those same technologies to atrophy the inner capacities – inner spaces – of the humans of that world. Through external technology Classical Physics established itself and its world, but when this same technology is reversed on the humans of that world, the inner activities of those humans became totally dependent on the externality of facts achieved through the same technology of Classical Physics. In time the only sources of knowledge for the humans of that world were external facts and their data (empiricism), while education (positivism) became the gathering of these facts in memory or in figuring out how to order them in imagination. In summary, cognitive skills were at the top of the hierarchical ladder where memory and imagination were placed below and subservient to cognitive skills. Human capacity was thus rendered (officially) impotent to create and became reduced to an inner technology of dependence on external sensations of an already established world which hid its fixity by the speed it could turn out more and more objects (facts) without changing the world and the dependence of people on this technology.
How then may we cancel (or momentarily suspend) these technologies by which and through which we are normally sensitized and develop the original technologies of the Image, the will of God, the original creation?
Give me your will, and I will give you as many ideologies as you need to justify such an irrational gift.
We must return to the will. But the return is not theoretical; it involves exercises, technologies, autonomous and independent from those of cognition. Eastern tradition, the first on the block and the origin of our soul-matrix, in particular those of Hinduism and Buddism, may serve us here as a guide. Samkhya Philosophy and Yoga, for example, on which Hinduism is grounded and Buddhism derives in its earlier stages, do not even have a cognitive faculty the way we understand cognition. Cognition for these traditions is one more sense (manas), which with the other five collaborate to make up the experience of the sense of “I”. The faculty Hinduism and Buddhism accept as the only faculty for human development or freedom is the imagination/will (buddhi). This imagination, moreover, is not dependent for its exercise on external objects but rather on an inner space (antah karana) that activates memory and imagination the way Plato used recollection and the mystics used the mysteries of Christianity and the life of Christ to regather the frames of the past in order to build the original experience, the original Image-experience from which the whole culture originated. Since every philosophy becomes eventually human flesh through the technologies of interiorization, linguistic behavior, and systematic use of the faculties, every technology creates habits in our human body that cannot be displaced except through the use of different technologies that instill new habits and, therefore, provide certain mobility within technologies – that is, have as an effect a certain detachment from the fruits of action. This correction of physical stillness, this preparation for inner and outer mobility, this plurality of body habits on stale body habits, and the ensuing mobility of such exercises is the task of the inner technologic of transformation these cultures from the East and Christian mysticism left us.12 These exercises and their repetition, hence the power of their habit formation, are a deliberate effort to open wide the inner resources and spaces of the imagination by learning how to frame its possibilities on the memory-points of the past. The past is simply the left over residue of the habits and traces left in our sensations by theories that lived and died through earlier human bodies (the karma of history). While the end of the exercises of the imagination is that every living point of the world in front of us becomes to our experience, at times at least, a living memory of the original Image, a unity of experience where body, Image, and world share the same boundaries and demarcations. In this experience there is no room for identities or perspectives. It may be called the experience of not-I, some have called it God, others the experience of no-thing, and in most cases this experience has served as the model for immortality here and now. In the sense that there is an experience that lasts outside and without the assistance of my identity, though, I feel it as more real than any other kind of experience. I may witness what has no sense whatsoever of mine or I.
The Text of Meditation
In the following detailed analysis of technologies used in meditation, our first move is to link the image to language. The originating image and those that mediate in meditation, be they mandalas or mysteries, are languages in the sense that they can be articulated, are intentional, and carry meaning – that is, have organizing value for experience. The fact that they appear only as large images is as inconsequential as the fact that ordinary semiotics makes of every object an abstract sign. Both kinds of languages function with different criteria and by different technologies. Furthermore, the language of images, or images as language, point to a human space that is originally an Image of the creator, be it God, culture, or simply the origin of human experiencing. In other words, this is the true inner space that may be revealed, opened, touched, uncovered by the unique, original act of creation and by no other creature or object or sensation. The mystic’s task in meditation is a movement through memory-points to steal the 14 imagination’s horizon: to become that experience origin of human experiencing. The text of meditation as language has its own signs (feelings) original to the image or the background, and their decoding needs as much accuracy and dedication as any signs in any semiotic text, only that in this case not only theories or logical truths but also lives are at stake. And finally the text of meditation, contrary to cognition, is better understood if moved entirely to the transformation in the human body, its sensory appetites. The human body of the meditator comes to the meditation in an apparent false unity of sensation and the habits of sensation. These texts when done as meditation, as exercises, not just read, are a systematic dismemberment of this original false unity of the meditator until his will and body coincide with the large will and body of the original image, the creative horizon, the Trinity, in the case of Christian mystics; Krsna, the original Sacrifice, in the case of Hinduism; the experience of no-thing, Nirvana, in the case of the Buddhist.
To proceed with some semblance of unity I will generalize these technologies following the XVIth century mystics, John of the Cross and Ignatius de Loyola.
Dismemberment, Mediation, Death, Transformation
I will, at this time, leave aside the techniques used as preparation to meditation, like finding a place, body positions, concentration, etc.., and focus primarily on the activities or exercises proper that turn meditation into transforming technologies. For clarity’s sake I will divide this discussion into four kinds of exercises corresponding more or less with the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius de Loyola15 and summarize in general the four stages through which ordinary experience is transformed into mystical and which is common to practitioners of East and Christian West.
The first state is that of dismemberment.16 Ignatius places two frames facing each other at the beginning of the first week of the Exercises: On the one hand, he places the body of the mediator that comes to the meditation in a false unity and identity, with a bundle of habits of sensing directed mostly or exclusively to the satisfaction and unity of his/her own will; on the other, Ignatius places the Trinity, the Creator and His Will. The whole course of the exercises is to make both wills coincide in that of the Trinity, the Creator. Needless to say, since will, emotion, and experience go hand in hand, the coincidence or approximation of both wills gives as a result of such approximation and or coincidence, an experience which is out of the ordinary, for it carries in this journey of approximation or coincidence a body and a different sensitization each time it experiences to the point where body/ experience/will form a unity.
But this journey of coincidence or approximation is not done without a continuous violence. This violence is what we name here dismemberment.
The exercises of the first week already set in motion the pattern of exercises that follow. The meditator’s body, his senses are systematically dismembered in order to be sensitized to new kinds of sensations. The new sensations are images proposed to the meditator that mediate between his starting self and that larger frame of the Trinity. These images mediate between the two original frames by developing in the body/image of the meditator sensations, emotions, feelings appropriate to the objects they present, like shame, sorrow, guilt, gratitude, even some love. These images of mediation are those of Creation, the fall of the angels, of sin, hell, humans, Redemption.17 What separates the technologies of meditation from those of fantasy or cognition is that in these meditations the meditator is not a unity present in any one of those images, but rather he is a dismembered sensorium that lends sight, smell, sound, touch, and movement to the frame of the images and the contents of the frame, one sense at a time. The meditator lends his senses to the frames, not his unified self. Two types of emotions develop: On the one hand, the meditator is sensitized to these images; on the other, he is slowly becoming desensitized to the original sensations with which he entered the exercises. Will exercises, like examination of conscience, and discernment of the movements of the will are also introduced at this early stage; more about these later.
Mediation and the images of the life of Christ
The same technologies apply to the second week. The only difference is that now the images are imaginings from the life of Christ. It is obvious that in the mystic’s intention Jesus’ life is the mediation to the Trinity. The Trinity remains through the whole Exercises a constant frame as the absolute background.
The meditation on the mysteries follows the same exercises of dismemberment by lending sight, sound, smell, ear, touch, and movement to the images of meditation. The results are similar to the first week; there is a stronger sensitization to the frames and contents of these images and less attachment or more distance from the objects and images to which the meditator was habitually sensitized when he entered the exercises. The inner signs of the will require a more technical reading as the depth of experience deepens and broadens. Ignatius de Loyola would use these inner signs in the meditator at this early stage to make decisions by learning how to use them. Others, like Teresa de Avila, would follow those signs without any hesitation, while John of the Cross would strive for not paying them any attention and continue meditating. From a theological point of view, it is interesting how these mystics center Christianity on the Trinity, the experience of the Trinity, and not on Christ. Christ on earth is the mediator to Christ the Second Person of the Trinity: the experience that already happened.
There is a moment, as the exercises of the third week indicate, where all the striving in meditation ends in death, the death of all the habits of sensing of the past to the new sensitizations of the exercises. This is the most demanding and violent act of the whole power of these technologies and where most people stop short. Complete death to the original unity, to any unity, and a new life begins that is sensitized from the inside out rather than from the outside in as was at the beginning of the exercises. This is the passage through the dark night, the bereavement of the past habits and securities, in dawn of a new life we are not yet sure it will continue to rise and if it will reappear outside of these exercises, or even in the next sensation. The fight between the soul that wants the new way and the new way is a continuous fight between two loves that at last have recognized the common origin. While the meditator has been busy building frames and mediations for new sensitization, what starts as imagining very soon turns into experience, and signs that lead to new experiences; the background becomes alive and imagination stops where new life begins. This power of transformation is the power of imagining as the mystics from East and West practiced and willed to us.
The Fourth Week of the Exercises of Loyola is just the confirmation of this whole transformation. e calls it “Meditations to gain Love.” This is the stage John of the Cross immortalized with his poems “The Spiritual Canticle” and “Love’s Living Flame,” as he had already immortalized the third week with his poem of the “Dark Night” and the First Week with his poem on “Creation.”
The mobility of the imagination is faster and has more power than any mobility induced by ideology. Ideology travels by abstraction, but the imagination travels by embodiment. The passage of the imagination is always a living tissue of what we call our lives. The imagination moves with images, and the images are of the same tissue of the imagination. The ability to discover those primal images is the guarantee that we are not dying of strangulation by having become the victims of only one ideological image.
Furthermore, the passage from image to image, or object to object, or sense to sense within the frame of one image is filled with signs, with experiences. Ignatius de Loyola could not understand the one without the other. If his Spiritual Diary is any guide there, he lists these signs, as he kept this remarkable diary for a year using these signs as a guide to make an important decision for the Society he was founding. These signs include tears – in the first forty days of the diary he has tears over one hundred and twenty-five times, an average of four times a day, twenty-six times with intense sobbing; he mentions joy and spiritual rest; intense consolation; rising of the mind; divine impressions and illuminations; intensification of faith, hope, and charity; spiritual flavor and relish; sightings and spiritual visitations; loved surrender; spiritual dialogue; voices and sounds from the inside; touchings; memories and memory transformation; understanding and clarity without previous cause; increased love; joy for the things of the spirit; peace and rest of the soul in the Creator; knowledge and divine inspiration, etc.
But perhaps it is John of the Cross who best and most memorably summarized the whole transformation in his poem: “Love’s Living Flame” (my own translation):
Love’s Living Flame
Songs that the soul sings in the intimate union with God, her beloved Bridegroom.
- O Love’s living flame,
tenderly you wound
my soul’s deepest center!
Since you no longer evade me
will you please at last conclude:
rend the veil of this sweet encounter!
- Oh cautery so tender!
Oh pampered wound!
Oh soft hand!
Oh touch so delicately strange
tasting of eternal life and canceling all debts!
Killing, death into life you change!
- Oh lamps of fiery lure
in whose shining transparence
the deep cavern of the senses,
that was blind and obscure,
warmth and light,
with strange flares gives next to the lover’s caresses!
- Now tame and loving
your memory rises in my breast,
where secretly only you live
and in your fragrant breathing,
full of goodness and grace,
how delicately in love you make me feel!
These concluding remarks do not intend to conclude anything. We have hardly begun. They are meant, rather, as an encouragement to every individual to use the way of the mystics as an accessible way to the making of our own lives. Living is for everyone. Other peoples’ lives are not ours to make. Our own life needs the originality each one of us only can give it to be ours. But to be originals, our lives need to coincide with the original images that originally sensitized them. We cannot borrow those images from the public domain. The public domain is the domain of the fall, ideologies, theories, distances from living, living by inertia. It is in fact the multiplicity of worlds that need the corrective of the original images for creation to continue. Nor can we borrow our images from the epistemologies of human nature. The rhetoric covers up the fact that human nature is only a theory for the control of living, not any nature we originally carry within us. The decisions of history about nature itself are s sufficient proof of our lack of any nature. Living begins as an image of a creator, and this is the radical decision that Western History has managed to cover up. The corrective of this oversight, of this impasse, the corrective of everything we feel is wrong with our lives is only one memory-point away in the history of our own background.
As a model, the image of the origin – be it named Creator or not – has been creating not only originally – the image and the human species are a potential unity linked from the start of the species, but it has bee manifesting itself collectively in the different primordial images of the different cultures; and even more significantly, it has acted distributively on each life to the degree that they appear as the embodiment of a cultural primordial image. The manifestation of these images culturally and distributively is what makes possible the kind of public articulation vie are involved in here. It also explains the unity of the firsts acts of wo/man – Adam and Eve – etc., as involving not only them but also the whole species. It is this image of the primordial act of creation that has acted even unconsciously in every act of human creation. These primordial images are encoded in our brain and tissues in such a manner that conscious and guided imagining involves always a transformation that is holographic or holomoving in power. These primordial images not only sensitize us to their information but also our lives – worlds – are as large as the total holomovement. The total sensation of the total image is not only contained in each of its parts, but each of the parts of the imagining living body is also sensitized to the total image. What the original image contains in potentiality, each individual may attain distributively through the use and application of the technologies we have described above. Conversely, the distributive form in which the image appears in the mystics through history gives us a more accurate picture of the total power of the images of origin and the technologies of transformation. Ultimately this is what tile original image really is: a generative power of an experience out of time that becomes time in the imagination and transforms time by infiltrating the secondary images of wo/man’s fall through technologies that transform worlds and bodysensations into a continuation of the original act of creation. Tile mystic experience and the technologies used to reach it is a model of human creating whose time has already conic. Human history, as a model of human possibilities, may yet succeed where the computer and the rat have failed as universal models of the same possibilities. But these technologies depend for their use on the decision of individuals; they – we – hold in our power the ultimate modulation. It is up to each individual to decide. Hopefully, he/she will find a community to share the darkness and joy of the journey.
Notes And Bibliography
1. The philosophical lineage of this article falls in line with contemporary interests in phenomenology and hermeneutics or interpretation of cultural activities. From Husserl I am interested in his claim that reality may be bracketed, (Husserl 1931, p.110 and 1970) but I am forced to go beyond the fixity of his “eidos” or essences and join authors of this tradition like Heidegger and more closely Ortega y Gasset. These two authors take the interpretation of texts as the radical activity and context of human decision making.Ortega, further more, establishes the text as the primary unit of instrumental interpretation – embodiment – of theories and cultures. He further implied that a text once interpreted would open up a systematic domain of concepts and values necessary in the interpretation of culture and in the establishing of a native background before objects appear as objects for us. I will clarify, as we go along, the different ways the word text is used in the paper.
Husserl, E. (1931) Ideas London: Allen and Unwin. (1970) Logical Investigations: London,Routledge and Kegan Paul. (1970a) The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Philosophy~Evanston:North western University Press. Heidegger, ld (1962) Being and Time.New York:Harper and Row. Ortega y Gasset, J.(-1946) Obras Completas, Madrid: Revista de Occidente.
2. San Juan do la Cruz (1960) Vida y Obras de San Juan de la Cruz Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. Brenan,C. (1973) St. John of the Cross.Cambridge:University Press.(See in particular pages 82-83) De Nicolas (1989 and 1996) Samuel Weiser, Inc, York Maine.
3. See in this respect the work of Raymond E. Brown, in particular the following: Brown, Raymond E. (1977) The Birth of the Messiah.New York: Image Books, Doubleday.
4. See in this respect the work of Charles Williams. Williams,Cl1. (1941) Withcraft.London: Faber and Faber. (1939) Descent of the Dove.Michigan:William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
5. St. Augustine in his work De Trinitate, Book XIV, Introduces Chapter 4 with the following thesis “The Image of Cod is to he sought in the immortality of the rational soul. How a Trinity is demonstrated in the mind.” This is the thesis we oppose here.
6. From the beginnings of Western Philosophy with Plato and Aristotle, later on with Augustine, Aquinas, Galileo, Spinoza and in our time Einstein there has been the belief that Nature is a Book written from the start in its complete and final form and that science, be that the science of theology or now natural science, is the actual form of that reading.But with the fixity of Nature other values were also fixed and held supreme, the State, the Father, the rational order, morality, the Law, the book, time, in a word the masculine way of knowing. But Nature is not a Book written in final form, it is rather a text generated to respond to a human form of inquiry linked more closely to cultural interests than natural ones. The so called natural interests depend more on the time and place and cultural interests of the scientific group than on the natural interests of the same group. In fact one could say, in view of the history of natural science, that there are no natural interests per se, but only cultural ones.
See in this respect the work of Patrick A. Heelan: Heelan P.A.(1982) Space-perception and the Philosophy of Science.Berkley and Los Angeles:University of California Press. (1983) “Natural Science as a hermeneutic of Instrumentation.” Philosophy of Science, 50,pp.181-204.
7. For discussions of “techne” one needs only read Plato’s Gorgias and Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics. See in this respect the summary work of de Romilly, J.(1975) Magic and Rhetoric in Ancient Greece Cambridge Ma. and London:Harvard University Press.
Technologies involve two kinds of texts: a primary text that allows us to read. This is primary because it is the condition of possibility of the others. This is, in this notation called ‘text1’, There is a secondary text that includes signs or such like material and equals some form of information. The primary text, ‘text1’ is not only interpretative but it is also causal in the sense that it not only creates the conditions of possibility for reading but it also shapes the signs and objects that appear causally. The causal character of this ‘text1′ is derived from a radical embodiment of the humans using it and the technologies involved. This human embodiment of’text1’ is completely transparent to those using it or adept in using it. But this causality is not on a par with physical causality where the effect is proportionate to the cause. It is rather a causality more similar to biological causality where an effect may he disproportionate to its cause, as when the prick of the spur on the flank of the horse produces an exuberant jump totally disproportionate to the cause. And vice versa no matter how much a horse is pricked by the spur sometimes it does not move.
These two texts, a primary one ‘text1’ and a secondary one ‘text2′ are the texts we will be referring to throughout this paper. The primary text,’text1’, has to do with the embodiment of certain acts needed to create; the secondary text, ‘text2′, refers to the signs originated by the primary text in the acts of its exercise and repetitions, like consolations, tears, visions, etc.,as we point out later in the paper. It is also obvious how texts derived from imaginative embodiments differ radically from texts derived from cognitive embodiments and why through history they have been antagonistic or subservient to one another. It is also obvious why plurality of texts is a radical necessity and why theoretical uniformity is a crime against humanity.
8. Works on the imagination are not many but the interest of philosophers seems to move, suddenly, in this direction: Casey, E. (1976) Imagining:A phenomenological Study. Bloomington and London: lndiana University Press. Neville, R.C.(1981) Reconstruction of Thinking.Albany: State University Press.(See especially the last four chapters.) Hohler,T.(1982) Imagination and Reflection: Intersubjectivity,Fichtes Grundlage of 1794. Hague, Boston/London : Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
9. As a preparation for understanding these technologies at work in several cultures see my work: de Nicolas, A.T.(1976) Meditations through the Rg Veda Maine: Nicolas Hays, Inc. de Nicolas,A.T.(L976) Avatara: The humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad-Gita. Maine: Nicolas Hays, Inc. de Nicolas .A.T. (1982) “Audial and literary cultures: The Bhagavad Gita as a case study.” Journal of Social and Biological Structures. 5,269-288.
10. This kind of inquisition is always present even in circles of contemporary philosophical styles like phenomenology and hermeneutics where one would expect such presence would not be welcome. Philosophers like Heidegger, Ricoeur, Merleau-Ponty and even Husserl take as legitimate the manipulative control over people and things that scientific models have. They take for granted the pragmatic goals of science as being the control of natural phenomena and therefore this end justifies the means of a fictive – non historical – reconstruction of nature according to model systems of science that make the achievement of such a goal possible. This is a far cry from the understanding and application of phenomenology and hermeneutics Ortega practiced as the “sport of transmigration,” or the ability to get at the roots of the activity itself of doing philosophy historically. Our human acts are originally cultural and therefore our journey should be to the roots. But instead we have seen a whole tradition jump on the waves of theories and carry with it a whole people.
The image of dismemberment is as old as the Rg. Veda, 2.500 B.C. The Dragon Vrtra is dismembered again and again for creation to take place. The dragon never dies. Meditations through the Rg Veda (1976) (ibid) See Chapter 4.
11. Plato needs to be studied anew in reference to the dialectic, or transformation of knowing through reason and abstraction and knowing through the experience of the Forms. The dialectics I refer to imply these four moves: a) Turning the soul in a new and opposite direction; by using a different faculty; c) finding different objects, that is experientially different, as light to shadows; d) producing a different kind of knowledge. These four moves are from the Republic 508-511, and 532,1-534e.
In the Phoedo 67c c1, also 79e-81a Plato describes knowledge as equaling the experience of the Forms and being independent from the normal knowledge derived from body sensations. The Forms may be known only “after death” or by “practicing death,” by accustoming the soul to “withdraw from all contact with the body and concentrate itself on itself … alone by itself.” But Plato, of course, was an adept in the Mystery religions of his time and a great footnote to the practices of previous cultures.
12. See in particular Chapter six of Avatara (Ibid) (1976).
13. See Meditations through the Rg Veda, chapter 6:The Language of Images (Ibid.) (1976)
14. It should be clear we are dealing here with the primary text,’text1′ where embodiment is the prerequisite for experience, just like reading is made possible by embodying the skills proper to it before meaning appears.
15. I am at this time finishing an edition of Ignatius’ collected spiritual writings under the title Powers of Imagining for the State University of New York Press.
16.—See Meditations Through the Rg Veda, ibid.
17. The function of the gods in Hinduism has the same mediating property as we describe here. The mandala of the god or goddess is the same mediating imagining to lead to the original experience, as the structure of the Gita leads Arjuna, chapter by chapter as a mediation to reach the original experience. See my book Avatara (1976) (ibid) in particular chapter six.
Antonio T. de Nicolas was educated in Spain, India and the United States, and received his Ph.D. in philosophy at Fordham University in New York. He is Professor Emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Dr. de Nicolas is the author of some twenty-seven books, including Avatara: The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gita,a classic in the field of Indic studies; and Habits of Mind, a criticism of higher education, whose framework has recently been adopted as the educational system for the new Russia. He is also known for his acclaimed translations of the poetry of the Nobel Prize-winning author,Juan Ramon Jimenez, and of the mystical writings of St. Ignatius de Loyola and St. John of the Cross.
A philosopher by profession, Dr. de Nicolas confesses that his most abiding philosophical concern is the act of imagining, which he has pursued in his studies of the Spanish mystics, Eastern classical texts, and most recently, in his own poetry.
His books of poetry: Remembering the God to Come, The Sea Tug Elegies, Of Angels and Women, Mostly, and Moksha Smith: Agni’s Warrior-Sage. An Epic of the Immortal Fire, have received wide acclaim. Critical reviewers of these works have offered the following insights:
from, Choice: “…these poems could not have been produced by a mainstream American. They are illuminated from within by a gift, a skill, a mission…unlike the critico-prosaic American norm…”
from The Baltimore Sun: “Steeped as they are in mythology and philosophy these are not easy poems. Nor is de Nicolas an easy poet. He confronts us with the necessity to remake our lives…his poems …show us that we are not bound by rules. Nor are we bound by mysteries. We are bound by love. And therefore, we are boundless”
from William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly: ” This is the kind of poetry that Plato was describing in his dialogues, and the kind of poetry that Nietzsche was calling for in Zarathustra.”
Professor de Nicolas is presently a Director of the Biocultural Research Institute, located in Florida.