What I’d like to examine next is how different types of people relate to the hidden concept of oakness, at varying levels of abstraction. There are three principle figures in this drama: the orchard keeper, or farmer; the carpenter; and the architect.
The oak farmer is the one most immediately connected to the oak trees themselves. He sees them all develop from seed to tree, and is aware of the unique characteristics of each. He may see one as better, or another less, and he may even have a favorite tree.
Due to his long familiarity with the trees, the farmer will likely have an excellent understanding of oakness, but he will know it in the form of its many manifestations. That is, when he thinks of an “oak”, he will have in mind a particular tree, or a sapling, or a seed. His relationship to oakness is through the oaks themselves.
A carpenter, on the other hand, relates to oaks in terms of their usefulness as a material for construction. He receives the wood in the form of planks and beams, and is aware of things like weight and grain, hardness and strength. It may be said that he has passed beyond the tree and kens their virtue only. And yet, despite this enormous leap from manifestation toward virtue, still the carpenter is bound to the physical qualities of each particular piece of wood. He knows what the wood is meant for, but must consider the fitfulness of each individual specimen. He is, in this sense, between the worlds.
Lastly there is the architect. When he envisions a building, and decides to use oak in its production, he thinks purely in terms of the virtues of oak. He ignores the variable properties of the actual pieces and holds in mind an ideal piece, which he then assumes the farmer will produce and the carpenter will find for him. He is free in this sense from the actual, physical manifestations, and communes in his mind with their common properties. To him, all oaks of a certain kind are really one oak, and the progression from seed to tree is an irrelevant detail. Oakness is distilled to its purest virtues and the rest is cast away.
These three archetypes relate to the wayfarer’s journey in that he seeks to move from a comprehension of God’s attributes in the world of being, toward a vision of that inner quality which informs those attributes with their essence, until he realizes an inner communion with the Reality those attributes and that quality refer to. He too begins in the realm of limitation, wherein he knows God only through the Seen, His many names. Then his hunger propels him faster and faster through the valley of love until he attains a knowledge of that which unites those plural manifestations. Armed with this insight he blinds himself more and more from the distracting nature of the world’s distinctions until to him it has but one purpose, one redeeming virtue: the knowledge of Him.