By Fr. Roy Cimagala
HE complete Latin expression is: Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur, which means, Whatever is received is received in the manner of the receiver.
Paraphrasing it, we can also have: Cogitum est in cognoscente secundum modum cognoscentis, A thing known exists in a knower according to the mode of a knower.
These are aphorisms that came from the great medieval philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas who seems, unfortunately, to be hardly known, if not ignored and scorned, by today’s generation, including the thinking class.
Some say that aphorisms like these don’t hold any attraction at all from today’s youth. They have lost appeal. They can’t generate any traction.
But they seem to be applicable these days as many people are discussing whether the heavy rains and floods in Manila are God’s way of sending a message about how the RH Bill is handled in Congress.
The pro-RH, of course, dismiss such thought and simply say it’s just pure coincidence that the rains and floods came at the heels of Congress’ terminating the RH Bill debate to move on to its approval. In short, there’s no connection at all.
The anti-RH appear to make a kind of association, though not categorical and definitive, between the two events.
So, it’s quite clear that one’s views of things depend on how he thinks, in what perspectives he considers them, and many other factors that can condition his thoughts, judgments and reasoning.
And there can be an infinite variety of conditions into which people can be classified. One can be the emotional type or the intellectual type. He can be more of an individualist or a socialist. He can be the worldly type or the pious kind. He can be an illiterate or a scholarly fellow, young or old, athletic or sickly, etc.
Each of these types certainly would come out with his peculiar thinking, which can lead us to what is called the Rashomon effect, defined as “the effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection, by which observers of an event are able to produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it.”
Four people can meet and enter into an agreement to do something. But when they start working on the details, they find out that they have different and even conflicting understanding of what they agreed upon. That’s the Rashomon effect, a common phenomenon.
This, I think, is what is happening in the RH Bill vis-à-vis the Manila rains-and-floods. People are taking different and even conflicting views about them, and all the opinions enjoy a certain degree of plausibility.
So, it really depends on how one is. If he is the religious and spiritual type, then he will tend to take these two events under some religious light. And religiosity can have many variations. You can have the orthodox and truly saintly type, or you can have the superstitious type.
There is a distinction made by St. Paul that can be relevant here. He talks about the carnal or sensual man and the spiritual man, each one with his characteristic way of seeing and understanding things.
“Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are given us from God,” he said. “But the sensual man perceives not these things that are of the Spirit of God, for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined.” (1 Cor 2,12-14)
Obviously, these words have little traction to many people of today who depend mainly on their own perceptions and thinking, without referring them to God, the Creator of the universe and ultimate authority about what is real and not, what is true and not.
That is the problem that we have today, which can hardly be solved by way of arguments. It’s prayer, sacrifice and other spiritual and supernatural means, in short, God’s omnipotent and merciful grace, that can do it.
A truly spiritual man can discern what God has to say about the current RH bill status and the rains and the floods. He just cannot remain in the externals and keep himself in the level of pure logic based only on some sciences, social or meteorological, if not simply on opinion.
St. Paul says, “The spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Cor 2,15) He is the one who knows the mind of God.
We, of course, have to be wary of the superstitious man who is not exactly the spiritual man referred to by St. Paul.