Sacramental Leaves (Session 2, Assignment 1)

Not having an immediate pressing problem in mind, at first I tried just viewing objects in my environment as symbols of a higher space.  Taking a walk outside, my attention was drawn to autumn leaves skittering across the ground and drifting through the air.  What happens if I don’t take these leaves for granted but as symbols of higher space?  What would this mean?  Looking at the leaves in this way, I noticed that they seemed to express and embody for me a mode of knowing: a certain type of knowing seemed to “be” that higher space, in this case a knowing which allowed for space and object and inter-object differentiations.  Reflecting on this, I found I wasn’t sure I could take this insight seriously (that this knowing was the higher space), but it was still suggestive to me, since the question to see things as “symbols” already seemed to be pointing in the direction of knowingness.  Symbols are different from signs, in that symbols embody the meaning while signs point outside of themselves.  While I do not embrace an idealist worldview, this reflection still inspired me to see the leaves as they danced around me as (sacramental) embodiments of a mode of knowing: not reducing the leaves metaphysically to external expressions of godlike knowingness, but seeing the leaves-as-they-appeared-to-me in this way.

Starting this exercise, I did not have a specific problem to work on, but I found the leaves, which were wholly different from the space in which they moved, “resolved” in a mode of knowing in which space-and-object co-arise and co-determine.  Phenomenologically, this felt like a movement that covered no ground or distance — like walking with your eyes closed, so there is a sense of dynamism but no sense of going anywhere.

Thinking about this, it seems the invitation to see problems as symbols of a higher knowing is an invitation to find a space in which problematic dichomtomy becomes creative or generative polarity.

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2 Responses to Sacramental Leaves (Session 2, Assignment 1)

  1. michaelg says:

    Hi Bruce,
    As I read your post the leaves from the Mulberry that over-arches the sun-room in which I am sitting are blowing across the roof. As they slide and rattle, they make the invisible autumn wind visible, and sound out a wonderful drum roll of autumn. Sound has for long been more evocative than light for me. The sound of wind soughing in the tree branches, waves exploring an ocean shoreline, a snatch of Brahm’s Second Piano Concerto before I turn off the car and go into work. Your insight that these are all ways of knowing is helpful. Perhaps enjoyment is one of the surest hallmarks that knowledge is flowing in our being. Michael

  2. David Filippone says:

    Hi Brother,
    Just loved the subtlety of your analysis, and your provisional conclusion resonates plumbing my own depths… the invitation to see problems as symbols of a higher knowing, as an invitation to a higher space where dichotomies can co-arise without conflict.

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