This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The vertical dimension

Another way of describing that which we sense and wish to know is via the distinction between the horizontal and vertical dimensions of human experience.

Man lives most of his life focused on the ‘horizontal dimension’ of his being: moving across the face of the earth and expanding his collection of concepts in a quantitative development. His physical and psychic life, in fact, takes place almost entirely in the horizontal domain of quantitative expansion, and for this the rational faculty serves him well.

Simultaneously, man participates in a vertical dimension, although by and large he only perceives it in small doses. This is the domain of ‘quality’ as opposed to quantity, and while in the horizontal dimension man seeks to acquire, or suffers loss, we say that in the vertical dimension man either transcends himself or degrades himself, these latter two being descriptions of his quality or degree of spiritual development.

The sense of the inexpressible is the beginning of our awareness of the vertical dimension. Again, all men do seek quality in some things and in all being the two dimensions intersect, but only man is permitted to either rise and develop his vertical potential, which is limitless, or else degrade himself even lower than the level at which he was born, which is to say, he can even conduct himself in a ‘sub-human’ way if he so chooses.

Spiritual realization involves shifting our awareness, and in fact identifying ourselves more fully, with the vertical dimension. Life within the horizontal dimension never ceases, but its activity is integrated into the pursuits of spiritual development and become a support for it, or else they are rejected, and this is asceticism.

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