A friend of mine recently observed how his subjectivity is always moving: he can be magnanimous in one moment and petty an hour later. He referred to this state (in language inspired by René Girard) as “ontological instability.”
I know what he’s talking about. It’s often not done intentionally or thoughtfully and as such it can feel as though it’s not even “I” who is doing the moving. When I lose the capacity for presence, or an active self-awareness, “I” takes the reigns and wanders at will like the proverbial drunken sailor. Or, following Girard, I might decide to be whomever I think you would like me to be in that moment.
Call it “God,” “Mystery,” “Love,” “The Lure,” or some other name, the numinous is ontologicaly stable. Part of the value of meditation and other spiritual practices is that they act as an anchor – between human ontological instability and the ontological stability that characterizes the numinous.
Something about the nature of being human demands an anchor. The question, then, is what anchor(s) do you choose?
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