Philosopy of Adrian - Part Four: In The Dance

Instalment four prepared for the gathering at Yarrambat:

Now use this to interpret a few beautiful but widely misunderstood Christian dogmas, ideas and traditions….

Item 1: Holy Trinity:

A mechanical interpretation of this Christian doctrine doesn’t make much sense to most contemporary western audiences. The divine is described as a combination of three personages, with each being co-resident in the other and of equal status. Then a range of arguments break out about what “equal” means and whether equality does indeed exist. It all seems like an attempt to describe the ineffable a little too “rationally” (in the broadest sense of that word.). So time-bound or literal attempts to explain the idea, become quite ridiculous and, indeed, the anti-thesis of what the idea is trying to portray.

I’m suggesting then that, for some of the mystics who nurtured the idea of Trinity, the mechanical/literal is not what they had in mind at all. And using the “U” gives me an insight into what is was they might have been exploring.

Trinity, it seems to me, is an attempt to explain “the divine ” as a relationship between:

1) the sum or limit or greatest potential of all possibilities (which could be named “father” in the paternalistic language popular at various points in history)….. and….

2) the role or potential of the particular, or local or individual (which could be named “son” in that same language).

The Spirit (the third player in the mix) then is the divine messenger (or “divine whisperer” is a term I prefer) that creates the lines of communication between the whole and the particular.

Note that the paternalistic language is usually not very useful for contemporary communication but I will persist with it as I draw parallels between the tradition and the “U.”

If we look at how this works on the “U” (diagram 2) we see that the Father is at the top of the “U” and the Son is at the bottom of the “U” and the spirit calls us on a journey from A to C (inward) and then back to contributing to the whole (C to B). The paradox of Trinity is equally the paradox of the “U,” meaning that the divine is not just about staying “on top of things.” Indeed the only way to access the divine is draw oneself down on a journey of self discovery. Only when we get deeper acquainted with “who we are and who we are not” can we have an appreciation of who others are (and are not). Only then can we begin to knit ourselves together with others –and the whole cosmos- and creatively appreciate “the whole” in all of its diversity.

From what we know of the person of Jesus, we see him as being an exemplar of this journey. His “divinity” then is a product of his deep humanity – knowing himself and hence where he fitted in the whole order of things. And its equally the reason why the title Christ may be attached to him (somewhat simplistically, christ = anointed = oiled = “in the flow” – meaning “in the continuous flow from part to whole” and some readers will see parallels to my earlier comments about “salvation.”). I have been known to refer to Jesus a “the oiled one.”
Diagram 2

Some of the earliest philosophers to explore the notion of Trinity described it with the word perichoresis. It has nothing to do with three persons and everything to do with characteristics of the divine circle dancing together. Of course, the circle dance is the path of the “U.”

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