Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cataract of the Intellect

“Thus the mind, accustomed to the opaqueness in beings and the phantoms of the visible things, appears to be seeing nothing when it gazes on the light of Being. It cannot understand that this very darkness is the supreme illumination of our minds, just as when the eye sees pure light, it seems to be seeing nothing”……. “The Journey of Mind to God” by Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure was a doctor of the church and a contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas. Bonaventure accepted the Platonic doctrine that ideas do not exist
in rerum natura (in the nature of things), but as principles exemplified by the Divine Being, according to which actual things were formed; and this conception has no slight influence upon his philosophy.
The mind in contemplating God has three distinct aspects, stages or grades—the
senses, giving empirical knowledge of what is without and discerning the traces (vestigia) of the divine in the world; the reason, which examines the soul itself, the image of the divine Being; and lastly, pure intellect (intelligentia), which, in a transcendent act, grasps the Being of the divine cause.

Though there are current metaphysical and cosmological difficulties in accepting the process and nature of precepts that were defined by Bonaventure, the depth of his understanding is way ahead of his time. Why I say this is because his definition of how ideas evolve in the mind form a pre-existent set of principles in the divine mind is the contemporary understanding that the 'universal unconscious field' does carry the imprints from which all conscious activity in the mind in the waking state takes place. We do not consciously feel this and assume that ideas are immanent and come into the mental ambience as soon as the senses observe an object in nature. If one is not exposed to the impression in consciousness, which occurs through an evolutionary process, an observation of an object outside such pre-existent impression, is never registered.

The three elements in the process of grasping any idea are the senses, reasoning through the mind and intellect. This is beautifully captured in the Katha Upanishad “Beyond the senses are the objects, beyond them is the mind, beyond the mind is the intellect, beyond the intellect is the Cosmic Mind which is
hiranyagarbha (golden womb).”

When one is trapped purely in the operation of the object, senses and mind, there is a limitation that sets in and this is the opaqueness that Bonaventure talks of. When intellect is excluded from the process of understanding the nature of reality, the intellect is blinded. Just as a person, who has been imprisoned in a dark dungeon for many years, when exposed to daylight, would be blinded and would not be able to appreciate the beauty of the free world and its associated nature, a person operating in the sensory and mental mode would not be able to grasp the reality of the divine.
Eyes that see pure light would be blinded and would see nothing.
This is the reason that Lord Krishna says “But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes. Behold My mystic opulence”…………...
Bhagavad-Gita 11:8

The difference between the physical, sensory organ of observation and the intuitive inner eye which operates only at the command of the intellect (
buddhi) is that sensory observation can give us knowledge of only the present which is conditioned by an a priori evolutionary history purely at the space-time realm of existence and which is non experiential at the level of the self and an extrapolated future, hence an aggregated comprehension of false reality, while the inner intuitive observation can comprehend the infinite ocean of cosmic consciousness. The portal through which cosmic consciousness or the cosmic mind enters the realm of the human creation is the intellect. If this portal is opaque, this cataract must be burnt away by a constant exposure to the supreme illumination to experience the Divine.

Love to you all

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