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Conclusions, Convictions, Certainty ...


Let's consider "conclusions" as menu selections (this is merely analogy).


Phase one : your body feels hunger. Already, though we all know what it is like to feel hungry, it is pretty hard to actually describe the sensation.


Phase two : intellection of the feeling -- we recognise the sensation and instinctively know what to do about it : eat.


Phase three : intellection of the previous intellection -- we are no longer thinking about what to do with the feeling (we are moved to the act of eating), but now we are trying to decide "what" to eat. This is an interesting phase because it no longer has to do with hunting or gathering but just going to a bistrot or to our own larders, nonetheless it is still rationalising an instinctive process. No one is going to feel hungry and go to the closet with the cleaning products kept therein. (Actually, some may, but this indicates a different problem.)


Phase four : of the available options, which one is going to fill the nutritional requirements (answer the need announced by the sensation of hunger) and be the most enjoyable/gratifying (in the moment). Some of the options (forget the cleaning products for now) are more appropriate on the nutritional level than they are on the gratification level. A balanced meal with all of the nutritional qualities is probably better than a gooey bucket of cholesterol and Omega-6 fat, or a refined sugar-laden ersatz of "food", but in either case one can probably stop the "hungry" feeling.


Phase four bis : 'is it edible ?' This is a learnt cognitive - or re-cognitive - step. We do get this one cocked-up sometimes, from which follows ...


Phase five : intellection of the eating process. We "know" how to "eat" basically from conception. It is not something we have to focus our cognitive skills too keenly on. Yet, we ought to be a little more discriminating in our selection of what to eat. We probably don't have to commit too much mental effort to cognising that a balanced meal would be better for us than the sugary treat, but that alone is not enough to keep us from selecting the "quick and easy path" to calm the hunger sensation. Junk-food and Junk-thought/Junk-faith have some very, very sharp similarities here ...


Phase six : has the hunger (the sensation in the body) been satisfied ? The easy answer is "probably". The more elaborated answer would consist in determining if the body's nutritional deficits, which gave rise to the sensation of hunger in the first place, have been replenished. If one has been wise in the selection of "what to eat", then again, the easy answer is "probably". On the other hand, if one took the quick and easy path, then again the easy answer is "probably not". For the elaborated answer it would require a blood test, but I'm not going to get that involved here.


Phase seven : (this requires some intuition ; some empiricism) has our sensation of hunger been permanently resolved ? Well, evidently the answer to that is a very strong and reasonably certain "NO". In a few hours, tomorrow or just whenever, that sensation - a bodily sensation - of hunger will return. Then the whole string of phases starts anew.


Here's that nasty catch all this has been leading to : does only one 'acceptable/popular' "what to eat" satisfy permanently and for once and ever, the sensation of hunger ? Let's hope that the answer is indeed "probably not" because if that were to be true, then we could dispense with selections at all (neither very gratifying nor enjoyable) and just nourish ourselves with a sticky paste of some sort of nutritionally adequate goop like they do in the "Matrix" ...  What the real answer depends on here is "what do we need in this situation" ? This is a little harder to know when just going to a restaurant or to the fridge. The physical sensation of hunger does not give, in itself, very much indication of how to satisfy it.


The need for "faith" is a physical, bodily sensation just as much as hunger is -- and just as difficult (if not even more difficult) to describe. We don't recognise this very much, for we've been inculcated to divide our feelings (either sensations or sensibilities) from our thoughts about them (intellection). We cease to be individuals when we thus divide our- 'selves' ("individual" is by nature "indivisible"). When we take the "quick and easy" path, according to our intellect-designed identities, we are "probably not" getting our actual and true needs met. And our intellects have become pretty malnourished with all the Junk-thought/Junk-faith we put into them opting for the reduced effort. It is easier to nuke some nuggets than to prepare a combination salad or a hearty stew. It is easier to grapple onto dogma than to do interiority-relationship meditation/contemplation. The parallel here is evident.


Spiritual cultivation requires the same effort to condition and maintain as does the biological body. Our "Spirit" is an aspect of us that is as un-definable as the Force, for it comes about in "betweenness" ; it requires understanding, empathy, compassion, true meeting/encounter and engagement in dialogue. It requires alterity, "Other-ness", "not-'I'". Just as if we deteriorate our organes with junk-food, the junk-thought/junk-faith will deteriorate our ouverture to Spiritual development. And another catch here is that the Spirit is always in development -- just like we are always going to get hungry again.


Ergo, come to any conclusions you may feel you like, you'll find that they are as inconclusive as deciding "what to eat". The sensation will come to the body-soul again, and again need satisfaction. Conclude to take the "quick and easy path" and the need inducing the sensation will perhaps be calmed, but not fulfilled. Even taking the "hard and arduous" path, or the "middle way" will not fulfill the sensation of "need" forever. Thus, there is only ever going to be a situational, context - or meta-context - determined, momentary conclusion to be reached - one that does not remain "conclusive". Conclusions can only "conclude" one of the phases - and that, only briefly, not the entire spectrum and certainly not once-and-for-all, forever ...


The idea of "knowledge" is nebulous. Nutrition is a complicated and sophisticated knowledge to come to. Spiritual nutritional knowledge is ever more so. Beware of the "quick and easy" solution, definition, belief or whatnot. Attempting to do so empoisons the body. Doing that to the Spirit literally damns us.


And John was correct in pointing out that no one is beyond Redemption. But one has to move - or be moved - to the Redemption. Grace provides it unendingly (just like the choice of healthy food or junk food are everyday options), but - just like choosing the food, one has to make the right choices. The right choices are, naturally, dependent on context, situation, duration ....  and so forth. In short, the "right" choices are certainly not the same ones in all circumstances.


May the Force be with us all...