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The book by Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri rises to the surface in my room after 20 years dialogue with dust.
For Zubiri, intellection and the entire process of intellective knowing is intimately linked to reality:
By virtue of its formal nature, intellection is apprehension of reality in and by itself. This intellection...is in a radical sense an apprehension of the real which has its own characteristics...Intellection is formally direct apprehension of the real—not via representations nor images. It is an immediate apprehension of the real, not founded in inferences, reasoning processes, or anything of that nature. It is a unitary apprehension. The unity of these three moments is what makes what is apprehended to be apprehended in and by itself.(from, INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF XAVIER ZUBIRI (1898-1983), http://www.zubiri.org/intro.htm)
Thomas B. Fowler, President, Xavier Zubiri Foundation of North America, writes in his Informal Introduction to the Philosophy of Xavier Zubiri, the following:
Man's access to God
If traditional metaphysical proofs of the existence of God are out, are there any routes available? Before we answer this question, Zubiri feels that we must do something akin to what we did in the case of our perception of reality: we must step back and reexamine the whole explanatory paradigm and its assumptions. Traditionally, theologians have approached God in a conceptual fashion, in which He is what Zubiri terms a "reality-object" more or less like you and me and rocks and other things of our experience, albeit it of some higher degree. Given this approach, all effort is inexorably concentrated on establishing ways of "demonstrating" God's existence. The main problem with such a paradigm is that it produces proofs which (1) fail to convince because they rely upon abstract metaphysical arguments with premises that are themselves difficult to establish; and (2) the God whose existence they purportedly demonstrate is far removed from the personal God of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition and quite incapable of serving as the basis of a religion.
Zubiri thinks that this whole approach is too anthropomorphic. God is not a "reality-object", but what he terms a "reality-ground"-something to which we must be be "re-ligated", that is, re-connected. (This is much more in line with the approach of mystical thinkers). In contrast to the demonstrative ways of proving God's existence, which are purely idealistic (i.e, based on abstract reasoning), Zubiri proposes the way of religation, ultimately based on our experience of reality. Indeed, for Zubiri we are religated to reality since it imposes itself on us, and does so as something ultimate which both impels us and makes it possible for us to "create", so to speak, our lives. It is the experience of this imposition, of this power of the real, that is the experience of the ground of reality. And it is the fundamental experience which each man possesses whether a theist, an agnostic or an atheist. These latter three diverge with respect to intellectual discernment and volition when they confront this ground.
The theist finds in his experience of the ground an experience of God, a God not transcendent "to" things, but transcendent "in" things. Accordingly, to reach God one need not abandon the world (à la Buddhism), but to enter more into it, so as to reach its ground. This, of course, does not mean to live life in the fast lane, or become a hedonist, but to experience life deeply, in what may be termed the "spiritual" sense: reflection, love of other people and service to them, doing good, and so forth. God is ultimately the ground of things (including persons), and it is in his experience of them that man has the fundamental experience of God. Since man's life is a tapestry woven from his experience with and of things, and since this experience in turn is an experience of God, it follows that each man's life is in some respects a continuous experience of God. What does this mean? That no searching is necessary? That no spiritual life is required? That anyone's God is as good as anyone else's? No; those issues only arise at a subsequent stage, one which would be impossible without this one. What it does mean is that the real God of each person is not a concept or the outcome of some reasoning process, but something much deeper: the very life of man. In making or working out his own life, in configuring his own life, each man configures (or disfigures) God in himself, because the life of man, Zubiri concludes, is always and formally an "experience of God".
For the atheist, the power of the real is still there, and as an intellection, stands in need of some ground. The atheist does two things: he considers the power of the real only as a "fact", suppressing its other dimensions (etymologically 'a-theist' means 'not theist'). In this way he chooses to live a life which is sufficient unto itself; autosufficient, as Zubiri puts it, which means a life that is what it is, and how it is, and nothing else:
…the atheist formally surrenders to his own formal reality as unique and sufficient true personal reality. And it is in this surrender to himself as true that the faith of the atheist consists. The atheist understands himself as surrendered to himself and accepts himself as such. Therefore he makes a choice; atheism is no less a choice than theism.
The salient characteristic of atheism, then, is faith in oneself-or by extension, in a social class, human knowledge, mankind, or another similar surrogate.
This leaves agnosticism. Etymologically, the word means 'not knowing'; but as the experience of the power of the real is always present to the agnostic as well as to the theist and the atheist, its intellection still requires a ground-one which the agnostic searches for diligently but does not find. In Zubiri's own words:
…agnosticism is a frustrated intellective search. It is in this frustration where unknowability and ignorance of God take on their structure, where the suspension of faith occurs. But as ignorance, as unknowability, and as frustration, agnosticism is a strict form of intellective process which rests upon a real moment of reality known intellectively as such.
So the agnostic is someone who recognizes the need to find a ground for his experience of the power of the real, but has not accomplished his goal.
(from, Informal Introduction to the Philosophy of Xavier Zubiri, by Thomas B. Fowler, President, Xavier Zubiri Foundation of North America, http://www.zubiri.org/works/informalintro.htm
When I first studied the philosophical discipline of Metaphysics over forty years ago, there was less I knew then than what I now know I do not know. That "reality" is beyond "being" intrigues.
I listen to a congressional inquiry into the interrogation techniques used by US personnel with detainees. I listen to a supervisor with banking credit cards hold to his position that a written procedure trumps intelligent logic and reasoning. I listen to the mindless bigotry of partison political posturing. I try to hear any laughter well up through the absurdity and darkness of what passes as human discourse and information.
As for sitting in meditation, that is something which must include fits of ecstatic blissful laughter; brayings that will make you slump to the ground clutching your belly, and even after that passes and you struggle to your feet, will make you fall anew in further contortions of sidesplitting mirth.
Tears accompany laughter.
Laughter follows tears.
With sober silence, finally, I wonder about the Buddha, I wonder about the Christ.