My Neighbor is Myself

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday (Year II)

Luke 6:39-42

Divided consciousness sees reality as broken up into pieces. Human individuals are broken fragments of the cosmos endowed with consciousness. Persons transcend individuation and encompass the whole cosmos—divinity and humanity, heaven and earth—through Jesus Christ. Persons in the Trinity (divine and human) dwell within one another and constitute one theandric Body. 

Personal consciousness is indivisible and all-inclusive: all persons and all creatures in the universe share kinship in the Father’s Womb.

Individual consciousness projects boundaries and limits, measurements and conceptual fences. Lines of demarcation between “I” and “Thou,” “this” and “that,” “East” and “West,” “North” and “South,” “black” and “white,” section and divide the indivisible universe into “mine” and “thine,” and “us” and “them.” 

When we peep out of our individual selves to measure the outside world, the measurement is always partial. The fragment that measures is itself a part of that which it measures. Thus, in the famous “double-slit experiment” in quantum mechanics, comprehensive knowledge of the object-in-itself is unobtainable because the sheer act of observing interferes with the behavior of the particle under study. According to physicist Pascual Jordan, “Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… we ourselves produce the results of measurements.” 

Science is learning that there is no such thing as an “object-in-itself.” All things hang together. A reciprocal coinherence or perichoresis binds all of reality in the unity of the Trinity.

The measuring mind, the measure (ruler, instrument), and the object measured are all one. Human consciousness is an inseparable dimension of the universe. In classical physics, precise measurements depended on the assumption of a real separation between subject and object. Thus objects “out there,” severed from the self, could be measured by a detached observer. Quantum physics reveals that the observer mysteriously participates “in” the reality under observation. 

The fragment of the universe that always escapes measurement is like our own face. It is impossible to see one’s own face directly. We can only see it with the aid of a medium, such as a mirror, water, or photograph. Therefore what is seen is not the face in itself but its reflection through the instrument.

If knowledge at the subject-object level is fragmentary, how does one “see” reality truly? We must turn to the Blessed Trinity.

How do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit “see” one another “face to face to face?” Notice that the words we use to think and speak about interpersonal relationships are derived from spatial experience. The notion of “face to face” comes from divided individuals. Our effort to know is already handicapped by our linguistic instruments. Nevertheless, recognition of our handicap is a solid step forward to real knowledge. 

The divine persons, as pure spirit, do not behold one another in spatial extension. Their very coinherence is what our world calls “knowledge” and “love.” Human philosophy, in turn, derived knowledge and love from the divisions of intellect and will, and subject and object. 

In the coinherence or perichoresis of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each person is inseparable from the others. Being is Love is Communion. Since nothing divides the persons—not a line, word, or thought—perichoresis transcends the divisions of knower and known, lover and loved. Without spatial dimensions, there is no going out or coming in (knowing and loving according to earthly concepts). The dynamism of divine communion exceeds our conceptual apparatus. 

Applied to our human condition, the way to union and communion with our neighbor (beyond knowledge and love) is to find each person at one with ourselves. Persons are inseparable, one within the other. Distance and measure separates individuals, but persons are immeasurable. Persons have no spatial dimension. 

To be a person is to live the truth that my neighbor is myself, distinct only by the unique identities conceived in the Immaculate Womb of the Father, source of personhood.

“For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Luke 6:38). Such warnings are directed to measuring individuals. When we find our neighbors at one with ourselves in the Father’s Womb, measurement is abandoned.

“No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The Holy Spirit, our trainer and coach, will transform us into one Body in Christ, unique persons, in the Blessed Trinity.


2 thoughts on “My Neighbor is Myself

  1. fdan

    A beautiful lesson in not letting oneself get in one’s way, and letting God and neighbor in. An understanding into The Secret of happiness by way of the Divine and science! Thank you!


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