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Spatial Paradoxes and Spirituality


At the most encompassing end of the human developmental scale, both MetaSelf's Concrete Organizing Notions and its Image Schemas help us understand spiritual, religious and mystical ideas. For example, consider St. Bonaventure's view that all knowledge is a type of illumination (the CON of vision/light) and his characterization of the three eyes of the soul, the eye of flesh, the eye of reason, and the eye of contemplation. Or his rather paradoxical remark that the Absolute is "a sphere whose center is everywhere, whose periphery nowhere" (the center/periphery image schema). (Quoted by Ken Wilber in Eye to Eye, p. 297. Here, as in so many places, I am endebted to the systhesizing thinking and interesting quotations found in Wilber's work.)

Elsewhere in the same book, Wilber says, "The Absolute, in other words, is that which has nothing outside It, nothing apart from It, nothing other to It." (p. 294) And he characterizes the non-dual One as being both "beyond" and "within," a paradoxical notion that I find completely intelligible spatially when seen in terms of the MetaSelf model: the transcendent One is beyond and around the walls of the room (behind the appearances of the visible world), while the imminent god runs through all the planes of the self, both visible and metaphorical, as the z axis that connects us to other people in the world.

Also consider the Taoist idea of the Emptiness that is in all Form, and, by way of contrast, the atheistic notion that there is nothing "out there." Thus the language of space, which starts out on the literal, concrete level and becomes extended into metaphorical usages, is also suggestive of the things of which we cannot properly speak, the ineffable, nameless and imageless Suchness of reality.