A prayer to the Mother of God – the Akathistos or ‘Praises’ – contrasts height and depth in a brief, but telling, Zen-like way.
–Height unapproachable to human thoughts,
–Depth unfathomable to angelic eyes.
This is spiritually accurate, and has an edge to it as fine and sharp as Lorca’s “knife in the street.”
The Divine Height is beyond the reach of the human.
As all mountain climbers have discovered, the higher we go humanly the more evident becomes the gap between God and the human, uncrossable on our side. God is beyond everything human, thus neither comprehension nor non-comprehension, form or no-form, touches the Reality that confronts us, and pre-dwells before us and continues after us.
The Divine Depth cannot be fathomed – gone down into, plumbed, searched out – by spirits, especially the spirits accustomed to the unreachable heights of God, the angelic.
Lorca rightly pointed out that neither Angel nor Muse can plunge into the depth from which emerges ‘duende.’ The depth is ‘unfathomable’ — beyond the experience and understanding of the visionary faculty of spirits. Vision cannot plumb depth. Enlightenment cannot plumb depth. The ‘Eye of Light’ cannot descend there. Depth is numinously dark, and only ‘lit up’ by fire, the fire that suffers for love. Look into that flickering candle= deeper than the yellow glow is red, and deeper than the glowering red is profound black.
The Height is where Eros begins, beyond humanity’s aspiration, and thus is ‘dark’ to our vision before, graciously, it overflows and gives itself to all and sundry, becoming the Light and Life in every human being who enters the world, and indeed in all things.. The overflow fills all of space, and thus Eros becomes the gracious, and entirely free, ‘gratuitous’ gift of divine love to each and all. If anyone tries to reach up to it, they miss it, for only by its deed of self-offering can it be found; thus the creature learns to receive it, give thanks to it, and to share it, especially with those who need it most. In this way the Wellspring of Light, Life, and Love is never empty but always full, passing beyond itself ecstatically. Eros bridges the entire ontological spectrum of being from the mystical to the communal, from the uncreated to the created. It comes from Spirit into soul and body. Often it is our daily bread of the ordinary; occasionally it is our wine of the extraordinary. Everyday happiness – contentment with our lot is its key – expands into unusual joyousness.
If you try to acquire the good things of the Well, you render it empty; if you give away the good things of the Well, it remains always full. Similarly, if you try to pin down and define the Beauty of Eros rolling through all things, you extinguish it. Acquisitiveness, having and possessing, are the ‘delusive cravings’ that cause us to push away the gift that is already given to each and every one of us. We grab at life’s Goodness, violent and hateful towards those we perceive as rivals out to steal away our share. In many respects, we are like the fish surrounded by water crying out in thirst. We are blind toward Eros, and need to see, for once seeing, we will be fulfilled. We too will become a wellspring overflowing.
Eros is clearly the same as the Great Tao of Lao Tzu, a mysteriousness that becomes light, and a light that becomes water flowing into all things:
“Tao is all pervading, and its age is inexhaustible!
Fathomless! It is like the fountain-head of all things..
From Him all things take their rise, but He does not turn away from them;
He gives them life, but does not take possession of them;
He acts, but does not appropriate;
Accomplishes, but claims no credit..
The Great Tao flows everywhere..
The myriad things derive their life from it, and it does not deny them..
It clothes and feeds the myriad things,
Yet does not claim them as its own..
Being the home of all things, yet claiming not,
It is considered great:
Because to the end it does not claim greatness,
Its greatness is achieved.”
Loss, and dying, acceptance, as well as modesty and humility, are key to walking the Way of Eros in its radical generosity, and care for, the myriad things.
The Daemonic is the Presence of God which shakes the world to its foundations, to change it, and burns it to ashes to reforge its heart. The Mystery is that this ‘kindling’ of the world with divine fire only takes place through a strange and difficult depth.
Among the ancient Jews, the way of depth is not described in conjunction with Mystical Knowing; rather, it is always part of the ‘Wisdom of God.’ The Wisdom of God is folly to humans, just as what humans regard as wisdom is folly to God; similarly, what humans regard as strength is weakness to God, whilst the strength of God is weakness to humans. Wisdom involves not only Depth, but also Reversal, and many other odd things by human reckoning. The power of God is impotent to humans, but what humans regard as powerful is pathetic powerlessness to God. We want to be invulnerable, roaring like the Tyger and setting down our marker as the biggest beast in the jungle, but for God Tyger and Lamb are Necessary Contraries, and therefore the most ferocious energy in the forest of the night only manifests through vulnerability.
The prophetic consciousness is similarly depth delving; the Spirit searches out the deep things of God and the deep things of humanity, and the prophet is someone privy to this unique kind of searching which is not theology, not philosophy, not science. Depth haunts human action because it is ‘subject’ to divine action, thus searching out depth is telling a story of a dramatic collision of divine and human that is crucial to the destiny of the world. Depth delving is, in a sense, storytelling and searing ‘existential analysis’ of experiential struggles that accompany the non-guaranteed and uncertain action of life. ‘I went there; I did this; I experienced that. It was hard. Nevertheless I went somewhere different.’
Wisdom is often confused with Mystical Knowledge, and consequently gets assimilated to Eros, but from the perspective of the Jews, this is a huge mistake. Wisdom and the Prophetic belong together, yet do not go with other kinds of heightened and expansive enlightenment. Wisdom takes the risk, and gambles with the opportunity and danger; Wisdom suffers the unbearable and unendurable wound; Wisdom carries the unliftable weight; Wisdom pays the unaffordable price. It is in the dynamics of Wisdom’s Depth and Reversal that there arises all the existential paradox, contention, agony and passionate ex-stasis, of human life in this world.
This is why the unfathomable Wisdom of God, in sharp contrast to the shallow wisdom of humanity, works through the poor, not the rich; it works through the dis-possessed and oppressed and wretched, not by means of the owners of the earth and the tyrannical and protected.
It is also the Wisdom of God that both reveals the terribleness of the Daemonic and yet its infinite kindness and unexpected tenderness toward the aching pathos of the creature.
“I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.. And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things I will do unto them, and not forsake them” [Isaiah, 42, 15—16].
The Daemonic goes farther for the human, even giving up the Majesty and Omnipotence and Glory of God, to suffer ‘with’ humanity, and finally, in emptying itself of all divine qualities and attributes in the Messiah, suffering ‘for’ humanity: undergoing and doing what we cannot undergo and cannot do, that in the Messiah’s Spirit, we may undergo and do the humanly impossible and humanly lost.
Thus Wisdom also decrees that it is through failure, break down, and abject ruin, that the turn-around, the break through, the resurrection of the spirit and heart in hell, will come about. Yahweh ‘gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.’
In Wisdom, we are led by the Spirit and walk a way that ‘we know not.’ On this way, the darkness of not knowing becomes our only guiding light, the crooked is our only ‘round about’ route that gets us to the truth in the end.
Wisdom includes Truth; these make a fundamental pair= Dark and Fire, Reversal and Standing. The Old Testament declares of Yahweh, ‘there is no searching of his understanding’, yet in the searching of the abysmal deeps of the heart, and the absence of any heart, truth is revealed ‘in the inward parts.’ We search deeps through experience, deed, tears and sweat and our life blood. It is lived, not intellectual.
Exodus= 31, 1-6= “I have filled him with my Divine Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and practical skill.. In the heart of every person who is wise I have placed [the Spirit of] wisdom..”
Eros= illumination of nous and soul
Daemonic= suffering and change of heart and spirit
David realises that the common factor in both ways that God relates to the world, and humanity, is Love.
“You have beset me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me.. Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your Presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there.
Even.. in the depths.. will your hand lead me, and your right hand will hold me” [Psalm, 139, 5, 7—10; King James].
Eros= God’s right hand will ‘hold’ me.
Daemonic= God’s left hand will ‘lead’ me.
Eros= ontological — maternal — holding in being.
Daemonic= existential — fatherly — risking of being in doing.
Eros= The First Innocence, and even after its departure, the Good Life.
Daemonic= The Fall and Redemption, the Second Innocence.
In the Daemonic, we are pushed farther out on a limb by God, and do more at God’s behest; but in the Daemonic, God goes farther for us, and does more to bring us through where we are deeply and fundamentally blocked.