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Tags: Spirituality, freedom, transcendence, individuality.

There is an essential connection between individuality and freedom that follows from ordinary embodiment. There is also an essential connection between freedom and transcendent spirituality. The creativity of freedom means that it eludes final particularity without ceasing to exist! Involvement with that spirituality of freedom is what makes something transcendent. Classical conceptions of transcendence, as illustrated in the work of Plato, were mainly anti-individualist, conceiving transcendence as located outside and beyond individuals, as remote, eternal, and divine all-encompassing singularities. In that tradition, official systems of reality all stipulate some transcendence exterior to, and imposing strict uniformity on, the spirituality of all individual persons, making such systems uncomfortable with the idea of individual freedom. Since there is an essential connection between individuality and freedom, and between freedom and transcendence, the problem has been one of conceiving individuality, in the sense of free agency, as the original and sufficient transcendence.

One approach comes from ancient Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Scepticism, parts of which are something like the eternal alternative to Platonic philosophy, namely their focus on what any individual as such can control, personal interiority. The most important common ground among philosophical positions may be engaging the personally interior spiritual process called thinking. Faith in occult knowledge or special revelation is not part of the thinking process. This thinking is a questioning mindfulness combined with innocent curiosity, and when it thinks itself, may try a personal phenomenology, but spirituality is not a phenomenon. Every phenomenon is complete, with identifiable boundaries that can be described, but the essential thing about spirituality is its lack of boundaries, always new and always incomplete. Spirituality is exactly freedom, as Luther recognized. Philosophy can be the project to clarify transcendence, the self-recognition of personal spirituality (freedom), but it is not possible for freedom to be a phenomenon. Phenomenology is too much like describing “sense-data”, “impressions and ideas”, which always misses the blind spot in which personal orientation (questioning) is cumulatively re-constructing itself in interior non-actuality, eluding any final particularity. From within its perspective of embodiment, in a life in the world, individual spirituality self-originates its own continuous newness and open incompleteness, and that is its transcendence.

Copyright © 2016 Sandy MacDonald.