Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The art of the possible
Much of what people call angelic inspiration could also be called coincidence, and that is fine by me. The Heavenly Host have not hired me as one of their PR consultants, so far as I know; which does not rule out the possibility that I have taken on the job unwittingly. At least, if we note a coincidence, we’re aware of what is happening. Why is another matter. Let us at least accept that in witnessing angel intervention, we construct our experience into something coherent, just as the constellations in the Zodiac are constructions based on little dots of light spaced out in the sky.
So let me describe a coincidence which you may construct as significant or not, as you wish. There’s a certain spot three minutes’ walk from my place---Crown Taxis’ repair depot, with its oily yard and small workshop. I pass it when I go to the bank or post office. On three occasions now, I’ve found an answer to a deep question whilst passing next to this depot; with a suddenness which hasn’t happened anywhere else. I wrote about the first in my post Intimations of immortality on June 16th last year. In retrospect, a better title would have been The reality of spirit. I wrote about the second in a post titled Knowing, on Sept 15th. A realisation came in a flash, as if whispered to me: “All we ever need to know is what to do.” I haven’t questioned it since. Perhaps I should.
Now it’s happened again, at the same spot. I was passively brooding on the question posed in Fleming’s post Supernatural on January 1st, about freewill. I was thinking that there was something fishy about the whole philosophical debate: freewill versus determinism. Fishy because there are things which we just know, if we ignore the red-herring trails which philosophy is so skilled at laying. The angels whispered a phrase in my ear: “art of the possible”. It was an echo from Bismarck: “Politics is the art of the possible.”
“Never mind politics, Living is the art of the possible”, I thought, and linked it with the point on which Fleming and I were agreed: that there is nothing supernatural. Nature encompasses all that happens. To catch the significance of this bland assertion, you must think of the legions of New Age believers who passionately promote vague forces, often emanating from the human mind, which like almighty God, they claim, can “do anything”; and of the ambitious young who proclaim that “anything is possible”. When you think about it, this belief creates quite a harmful religion, and indeed is a main ingredient of what makes existing religions harmful. I’m pretty sure that Dr Alistair will disagree with me here: indeed I hope so because then we can throw some light on current trends of thought. You ask “What’s the harm?” And I reply that surely the whole essence of this earthly life, whose feeling we know so well, is the necessity to live within our limitations. Take that away and we are in “cloud-cuckoo land”, where angels will never be able to help us, for they assist those who are unable to reason, not those who refuse to.
I like to live well within the possible, but observe many who want to push its boundaries to the extreme. Typically they are young, unlike me, but that’s not a sufficient explanation. Those who “push the envelope” are driven to do so by chronic dissatisfaction, a disease so common these days that it’s seldom diagnosed: but one whose effect on behaviour makes the world unsatisfactory.
Posted by Vincent at 12:04 pm