The Inner Struggle

Contemplating the Transcendental …

Deep Peace, Bill Douglas, 1996

This time of year invites consideration of things beyond the daily trail. I’m reading a very interesting book just now titled “Finding True Happiness” by one Robert Spitzer, PhD. He has many answers to questions and feelings which have been recurring themes in my thoughts for years.

Some brief excerpts: “… our five transcendental desires for perfect truth, love, goodness, beauty, and being (home) will continue to affect us whether we acknowledge them or not. We will still want to know everything about everything, even if we abandon the pursuit of truth;  still desire perfect love, even if we think it does not exist; still desire perfect justice and goodness, even if we have been disappointed by people’s conduct and the judicial system; still desire perfect beauty, even if we believe that it is unattainable; and still desire perfect being (home) , even if we believe  that there is nothing beyond us but emptiness and darkness.”

“… It seems that we have been created for transcendent life and fulfillment, and if Plato and many schools of transcendental philosophy are correct, then God (perfect truth, love, goodness, beauty, and being) is the source of our transcendental awareness, desire, and nature. We might infer that through our transcendental desires, God is giving us a gigantic clue about who we are and what will make us ultimately happy.”

EeyoreAnd like so many things in life there is always two sides to the question, observation, view, depending on which way one chooses to look at things. Who has not felt, strongly at times, emptiness, alienation, loneliness and guilt? Who has not at times asked “Just what is the point of all this?”

Maybe we felt this way so strongly at times that the temptation to just end it all loomed large? Doesn’t everyone have these times, these dark nights where one questions everything? I wonder if everyone feels these things? I suspect that we all do, since I certainly don’t see myself as unique and special, that I have some elevated perception of reality that gives me a special take on things. I am just old ordinary Joe, like everyone else in this corner of the swamp.

O course Spitzer also has something else to say on the opposites to the above transcendental desires. He brings up the four negative states of being elucidated by existentialists like Kierkegaard, Marcel, Scheler, Jaspers, and Buber. These states are Cosmic emptiness, alienation, loneliness, and guilt. These cosmic states are something beyond this world’s feelings of absence of purpose in life, not fitting in or being rejected by people or institutions, the absence of family or friends, or feelings arising from doing harm to a person or a group of persons.

Eternity’s Sunrise, Bill Douglas, 2000.

“… Before examining them (the four cosmic negative states) we need to define the term “cosmic”. This term is used here with one of its common connotations —- “infinitely or or inconceivably vast”, which implies “the totality of being”. Thus “cosmic emptiness” is a feeling that there is nothing outside of us except emptiness, darkness, and coldness, “cosmic alienation” refers to a feeling of not fitting into or not having a real place in the whole order of things, “cosmic loneliness” refers to a sense of being alone in the totality of things, and “cosmic guilt” refers to a feeling of living beneath our true calling and responsibility in the cosmic struggle between good and evil. 

These four feelings are perceived as negative because they indicate a radically incomplete state of being and suggest not only that something is missing, but “what is missing” is essential to our happiness, completeness, purpose, and fulfillment. … we feel like we are not our whole selves.

… let us begin with “cosmic emptiness”. For Kierkegaard and other religious existentialists, this feeling arises out of an absence of purpose not in the immediate world around us but in the totality of being. This is manifest by an overriding sense of boredom present even amid a beautiful family, a successful career, material comforts, terrific friends, and just about everything a person could want in this world. The boredom keeps telling us  that there should be something more — yet it does not seem to be apparent in the natural world. the longer we submit to the emptiness, the closer we come to despair.

… Atheist existentialists like Camus and Sartre exclude the possibility of transcendental fulfillment, meaning that these feelings of emptiness cannot be overcome. This makes life absurd and despair inevitable.  However, religious existentialists believe that this cosmic boredom and emptiness are not a pure negative but rather a call beckoning us to go beyond (transcend) a merely superficial purpose in life. … “

More next post, read if interested or skip on to the next pasture if this is “boring”.

Cheers

Joe

Madonna_col_bambino,_palazzo_medici_riccardi,_filippo_lippi“May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”

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