Friday, April 5, 2013

Coming Towards God

One of the principal questions about religion is what God is, and why God is this or that. That is to say, there is an attempt to define God, and hold God accountable for what happens. 

This desperately mistaken idea of how to comprehend or approach God is the chief cause of all our problems with religion on this planet.

No man actually knows what coming towards God means, unless a certain kind of inner action takes place. This inner action has absolutely nothing to do with one’s opinions or the ideas one has formed in life. It actually even has very little to do with any conception one has of religion or God. That’s because it is not a theory, a philosophy, or an abstraction; it is an interaction that is born of a higher energy. It is an interaction between the inner Self, the Being, and a much higher level that one does not comprehend or have any understanding of.

We call understanding by the name understanding because one understands — one comprehends — that one stands under this higher level. This produces an inexplicable and inexorable result in the action of consciousness that creates a fundamentally different relationship within. Because it is a fundamentally different relationship, it can’t be understood in any ordinary way or by any ordinary part. Its results cannot be recognized by the instruments we use for measurement.

Perhaps the way to explain this is thus: there is a thing called beauty which human beings perceive. Although there are variables, in general, it could be agreed that most people will see the same things as beautiful: for example, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. This question of beauty can be directly measured by every human organism; yet there is no machine that can measure it. The ability to understand that this painting is beautiful lies outside the realm of what a machine can comprehend. We may program computers to do almost anything, and science may create an endless series of instruments, but none of them will be able to actually tell us what the feeling of something beautiful is, because they don’t have feelings. This is where the end of intellectual inquiry resides, and the action of being human begins. We are like these machines of ours to the extent that we can’t recognize beauty in the form of God; and it is only to the extent that we stop being a machine that we can recognize God.

Every conception that man has of what it means to be devoted to or in relationship with God is actually wrong. It is the abandonment of conception itself that represents the first step towards real understanding. One has to see that one must leave everything one knows behind. Hence, Dogen’s “leavers of home,” the expression he used to describe monks who embark on the path. Actually, the expression represents a very high level of departure — it’s not just the threshold, it is the moment of willing abandonment in which one commits oneself to territory one knows absolutely nothing about.

In fact, we stand on the edge of this territory at every single moment, and yet we stubbornly persist in manufacturing imaginary worlds that lie just beyond the threshold of this moment, each one of which we will very shortly inhabit and master. 

If we were free of that impulse, if it actually left us — and this is possible, absolutely and utterly possible — we would see how absolutely worthless that action within us is. It occupies 99% of what we are, and yet it is empty. 

Paradoxically, the emptiness we would experience if we eliminated this action in us is where all of the fullness of life and experience of God exists, and it is within that emptiness that we can begin coming towards God.

May your soul be filled with light.

1 comment:

  1. amen,the only thing I would question is the example of Botticelli....a bit over culturally determined? I'm not sure many people on planet earth would see it as 'beautiful' if they had not been told that it was considered by some to be so...? but it doesn't really matter that much


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