fulfillment

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

completion
consummation NC II, 337 (consummation of meaning in Christ)
fulfilled I, 33 (in Christ)
fulfillment I, 44 (in identity), 45
II, 420Roots, 38
fulness
I, 11 (of meaning), 14, 19, 24 (of selfhood and heart), 30-31 (heart), 33-35, 44-45, 63-64, 66, 69, 71, 80, 81, 121, 128, 131-32
II, 409, 424, 493, 495, 496; NC I, 11 (fulness of meaning)
NC II, 248 (sin turned us away from religious fulness), 335 (religious fulness of meaning), 418 (fulness of individuality), 423 (fulness of individuality), 468 (fulness of individual temporal reality), 561 (transcendent fulness of the meaning of this life); 564 (sharing in the fulness of meaning of the cosmos in Christ), 571 (fulness of meaning, fulness of Truth), 572 (fullness of Verity)
full NC II, 571 (full selfhood); 585 (full spiritual individuality), 593 (full selfhood)
illabile A term used by Baader.
perfection
unchanging

The fullness of meaning cannot be given in time. All temporal meaning refers beyond itself to the supratemporal fulfillment. (NC I, 106).

All human experience remains bound to a perspective horizon in which the transcendent light of eternity must force its way through time. In this horizon we become aware of the transcendent fulness of the meaning of this life only in the light of the Divine revelation refracted through the prism of time (NC II, 561).

As humans, we exist in both the supratemporal reality of our selfhood, where there is a fullness of meaning, and in the temporal diversity of meaning. Mankind is redeemed and reborn in Christ, but mankind “embraced in Christ still shares in fallen human nature until the fulfilment of all things.” (Roots, 38).

The earth fell with humanity in the fall. We live in an ‘earthly dispensation’ (NC II, 561). In our full selfhood we transcend the earthly cosmos and partake in the transcendent root (NC II, 593). We are the religious root of temporal creation, which has no existence apart from us (NC I, 100; II, 53). In our present life, we are “restricted and relativized by (but not at all to) our temporal cosmic existence.” (NC II, 561, italics Dooyeweerd). He repeats a few paragraphs later that our experience is not limited to our temporal functions. The earthly cosmos seeks redemption and fulfillment.

Although the fallen earthly cosmos is only a sad shadow of God’s original creation, and although the Christian can only consider himself as a stranger and a pilgrim in this world, yet he cannot recognize the true creaturely ground of meaning in the apostate root of this cosmos, but only in the new root, Christ. (NC II, 34)

We are also responsible to assist in the perfecting of the temporal world. Dooyeweerd states this expressly:

“De anorganische stoffen, het planten- en dierenrijk, hebben geen zelfstandige geestelijke of religieuze wortel. Hun tijdelijk bestaan wordt eerst volledig in en door de mens. (Vernieuwing en Bezinning, 30).

[The inorganic materials, the plant and animal realms, have no independent spiritual or religious root. Their temporal existence first becomes complete [fulfilled] in and through Man]

Dooyeweerd says that in man the whole ‘earthly’ temporal cosmos finds its religious root, its “creaturely fulness of meaning” (NC II, 52). Man is lord of the ‘earthly’ temporal world (NC III, 88). See also sparks. Dooyeweerd’s entire idea of Christ as the New Root deals with the need for perfection of the temporal. That is the reason for Christ’s incarnation, in his substitution of Himself for humanity as the Center.

We also need to find our true selfhood, since there was a falling away [afval] from our true selfhood [“af-val van de ware menschelijke zelfheid”] (WdW I, vi).

Absolutization is related to a disregard for the three transcendental Ideas of Origin, Totality and temporal coherence:

Through sin the power of man was turned away from its religious fulness; instantly the striving after its absolutization came into existence, the disregard for its temporal meaning-coherence, root and Origin.(NC II, 248)

Our faith finds its true fulfillment in the religious ‘vision face to face.’ (NC II, 298). As Steen points out (p. 217), our temporal faith function is only ‘for a while.’ Dooyeweerd emphasizes that the supratemporal is supra-individual. He speaks of “the fulness of individuality that has been saved in Christ.” All temporal individuality is only an expression of this fulness of individuality inherent in the religious centre of our temporal world (NC II, 418). The ‘earthly’ world does not exist in itself, but only in relation to the religious root (NC II, 549). Dooyeweerd refers to the time when we will not live in this ‘earthly’ dispensation, and when we will no longer have what he calls the “mantle of temporal functions” or the “functiemantel.” It is only because we have a supratemporal heart that we can have a sense of time at all. We express our selfhood in time in the mantle of functions [functiemantel]] (“Het tijdsprobleem en zijn antinomieën”; See also Tijdsprobleem). In the life to come we are not bound to time. (Steen, 133; I believe that Steen’s criticism of this view as a Greek idea is a misunderstanding).

Although it can of course be debated, I personally think that the idea of fulfilment in both Baader and in Dooyeweerd is related to the orthodox view of epektasis. Human beings are said to have the capacity for never-ending growth in God even as they move through eternity. This idea also fits with Dooyeweerd’s use of the words ‘enstasis’, ‘dis-stasis,’ the concentric and divergent directions of our thought, and his idea of ‘ek-sistere.’

This fulfillment will come at the end of cosmic time. Dooyeweerd refers to the eschatological time in the future when we shall see face to face. In the meantime, we are to engage in the unfolding and disclosing of the powers in the created beings placed in (fitted in) this temporal world by God. He says that even Christians take part in fallen human nature until de “voleinding aller dingen” (Vernieuwing en Bezinning, 36).

Our present work is therefore a participation in the fulfillment of all things. In his article “Het juridisch causaliteitsprobleem in it licht der wetsidee,” Anti-revolutionaire Staatkunde 2 (1928) 21-124, Dooyeweerd says at p.61:

De “ontsluiting der anticipatiesferen,” als actieve “door-geestelijking” van de wetskringen, is een religieus thema in de Calvinistische levens- en wereldbeschouwing, een thema, dat zijn hoogste spanning verkrijjgt door de onmetelijke kracht der in universeelen zin genomen allesbeheerschende praedestinatiegedachte. Overal, in alle wetskringen moet de religieuze zin doordringen en den zin der wetsgedachte “voleindigen,” al wordt in deze zondige bedeeling dit ideaal nimmer vervuld, tenzij dan door Christus!

[The “unfolding of the anticipatory spheres,” as an active “in-spiration” [lit. “spiritualizing-through”] of the law-spheres, is a religious theme in the Calvinistic life and worldview, a theme that reaches its highest tension through the immeasurable power of the all-ruling idea of predestination, taken in its universal meaning. Religious meaning must penetrate everywhere, in all law-spheres, and it must “complete” the meaning of the law-idea, although in this sinful dispensation this ideal is never fulfilled, except through Christ!

And at p. 113 Dooyeweerd says,

De “volle realiteit” als kosmische subjectiviteitseenheid bouwt zich op in den organischen samenhang der subjectsfuncties, gelijk alle wetskringen individueel slechts straalbrekingen zijn van Gods wereldplan.

[The “full reality” as cosmic unity of subjectivity constructs itself in the organic coherence of the subject functions, just as all law-spheres are individually only refractions of God’s world plan.]

Baader says that the redemption and restoration is a fulfillment, not a destruction of nature. He cites Tauler: “God is not a destroyer or hater of nature, but he fulfills [integrates] it,” (Begründung 32 ft. 17; Fermenta IV, 8). Dooyeweerd also speaks of nature being restored or renewed, although he cites Calvin (NC I, 516).

Baader and Dooyeweerd both emphasize our role in assisting in the redemption of this world. The fall of temporal reality occurred with the fall of man, and fulfillment is also in man. Dooyeweerd cites Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism in support:

Maar gelijk heel de schepping culmineert in den mensch, kan ook de verheerlijking haar voleinding eerst vinden in den mensch, die naar Gods beeld geschapen is; niet omdat de mensch, die zoekt, maar omdat God zelf de eenig wezenlijke religieuse expressie door het semen religionis, alleen in het hart des menschen inschiep. God zelf maakt den mensch religieus door den sensus divinitatis, die Hij spelen laat op de snaren van zijn hart. ( “Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer” Philosophia Reformata (1939), 211.)

[Just as the whole creation culminates in man, its glorification can only first find its fulfillment in man, who was created as God’s image; this is not because of man (who seeks), but because God Himself created in the human heart alone the only truly religious expression in the semen religionis [religious seed]. God himself makes man religious through the sensus divinitatis [the sense of the Divine], which He lets play on the strings of his heart].

Baader refers to the imperfect state of things until their redemption. In the supratemporal fulfillment, they will no longer be subject to falling again. They will then be ‘illabile,’ unchangeable, or incapable of returning to imperfection. For Baader, the supratemporal fullness is also a fullness of each individual. the circle of life is fulfilled

Mit andern Worten: das Leben wird der Einheit auf solche Weise entfaltet und in der Zahl der Lebensglieder vervielfacht, verdoppelt und reflexirt zurückgegeben, und der Sinn und Zweck des Organism war eben kein andrer, als dieser Reflex, durch dessen Vollendung das Eine mit seiner realisirten Lebensfülle (Vielheit) ganz in allen einzelnen Gliedern und ganz in sich selber lebt.” (Philosophische Schriften I, 89)

[In other words: in this way life is unfolded from Unity and multiplied in the number of limbs of life; it is doubled and reflexively given back, and the meaning and goal of each organism is nothing other than this reflection. Through this fulfillment the One with his realized fullness of life (Multiplicity) lives completely in each individual limb and completely in Himself.]

and

…der Kreislauf des Lebens nur dann vollendet ist, wenn das von allen Gliedern erzeugte Partialleben in did Liebearme des gemeinsamen Vaters wieder aufgenommen wird, und wie der Ausgang (das sich äusserlich machen, und Leibwerden) nur diesen verherrlichten Widereingang bezweckte. Denn jeder Ausgang, sagt Tauler: ist nur des Wiedereingangs wegen, und das exoterische Leben ist nur Baugerüste dem esoterischen (pp. 90-91).

[The circle of life is then only completed when all partial lives produced in the limbs is again taken up again in the loving arms of their mutual Father, just as the forthgoing (making oneself outer, embodiment) has as its goal only this blessed return. For as Tauler says, each departure is only on account of the return, and the exoteric life is only the scaffolding of the esoteric].

Baader quotes Tauler again regarding the refusal to return to our center

Sin is that the creature does not want to go back into Unity, its end as its beginning with all its powers.” (Philosophische Schriften I, 147).

Baader says that fulfillment for a temporal being is to be maintained and understood in its producing Principle, and to fulfil its law (Zeit, 33)

Abhishiktananda emphasizes fullness in many of his writings. For example, he says that we are to see everything–as Jesus did–in the light of eternity, of Being, which in its fullness, its purnam, shines through everything. Abhishiktananda was fond of quoting the Isa Upanishad, and its emphasis on fullness.

Fullness here, Fullness there;
From Fullness Fullness proceeds.
Take Fullness from Fullness,
Fullness ever remains.

This Fullness shows the reality of the world. Even the Incarnation itself does not exhaust the creative capacity of God. It is a fullness that overcomes time, being, and eternity. And it overcomes dualism. Abhishiktananda says that despite this idea of fullness (sarvam, purnam), the nondual or advaitic experience was analyzed to death. Then the Buddha substituted the idea of shunya, nothingness, the void or vacancy. The idea of emptiness is thus a reaction against the over-conceptualization which had occurred with respect to the idea of fullness. But the idea of emptiness should not itself be conceptualized.The Buddha required his disciples to maintain silence, but there has been more analysis of shunya than there has ever been about purnam.

The Vietnamese Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh agrees with this view that the idea of emptiness was only intended as a means of liberating us from the dogma and overconceptualization that had occurred in Hinduism. He says that the Buddhist notions of impermanence, not-self, interbeing (relatedness) and emptiness are means aimed at revealing the errors of knowledge rather than attempts to give a description of new objects of knowledge. They are methods, not information. All that can be said is that the ideas of emptiness (shunyata) or reality as such (tathata) refer to a non-conceptualized reality (not an ontological entity). Thich Nhat Hanh points out that, in an attempt to avoid conceptualization of the notion of emptiness, the Mahaprajñaparamita Shastra uses the expression ‘non-empty’ (a-shunyata). The non-empty is thus another name for emptiness and for tathata.

Revised Feb 14/10; Dec 24/16

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