From Viaticum (working title):
"I'm not sure there is a classical progression from the moral to the ascetical to the mystical if we are to believe some of the lives of the saints and our own observation. And anyway, why is it a progression?
Some are born with mystical minds. Some never leave the ascetic plane, if plane it is. I'm assuming here you're speaking of the Ladder of Perfection and St. John of the Cross and the Cloud of Unknowing - and so many descriptions of spiritual progress. But I rather think they are humours - personalities - inherent or genetic spiritual dispositions and not levels of understanding. It is possible to understand spiritual truths like [that is, 'in the manner of'] Aquinas or A Kempis - like Therese de Lisieux or Ignatius, like Augustine or Catherine of Sienna. (As I believe Owen Flanagan argues, in his Varieties of Moral Personalities, which I have not read though plan to, for the very shallow reason that I like the title.)
Uno destinatio, viae diversae. (The motto of one of my almae matres as it turns out.)
I am passionate in my personal objection to universal linear progression, for two reasons.
One: I survive in the world by puzzled imitation. By mimicry. By nimble cunning. By the possession of inner eyelids. Hence my great deep eternal unbreakable affinity with invisible Cymreictod.
("She felt at ease - always had - in the metaphysical; whereas all that was in her strained to catch the cadence, the key, the knack of being human, and never quite succeeded. This is what her flesh and blood little boys had done for her - rooted her in the earth - kept her willingly and enchantedly on a plane she felt to be otherwise foreign. Before they were born she had learned its rhythm well - was an excellent student and mimic. But it was only after they emerged from her and took shape as humans themselves that she began to understand. People really did find satisfaction in imperfection. They really did like pep rallies, motorboats, gallery openings, each other." - from my "Mater Amabilis" http://amzn.to/12Xkahx)
That's only another way of saying, "Thou hast made us for thyself O Lord and our hearts will never rest until they rest in thee."
And two: Any true religious is possessed by/cursed with a magnificent bias -- an ascent into involvement with a mystery that is so profound, so rarified, so clean, that aesthetic experience is a step backward. Moral considerations disappear. Morality is after all linked to humanity, homo sapiens, planet earth. Step off the planet (plane) and the rules change. Or disappear.
Become fire and fire will not burn you. Become Spirit and Spirit is not Other. Become Good and Good need not be chosen. Et inexplicable cetera."
©2009 Harrison Solow
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Lupus Foundation of America
Museum of Tolerance