Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Where Christ was born

 Another meditation on the question of location.

 We prefer to believe that spiritual activity takes place in places; because we manifest within a material world, we want the specifics of materiality to determine the conditions herein. Indeed, from the point of view of a mystical materialism, that's how it works. But Swedenborg insisted that materialism, which he was deeply familiar with — he was, unequivocally, one of the greatest scientists of his era, and perhaps any time — is merely a dim reflection of the higher spiritual truths, and that proximity in the Kingdom of Heaven is determined by state, not by anything we might perceive as physical location.

In the nativity myth, the location — the manger — plays a huge role. Intended to symbolize Christ's humble beginnings, the idea of being born in a place where animals are fed also has esoteric implications that expands to include Gurdjieff's teachings about the ingestion of impressions of life, and man's dual nature as both an animal and a spiritual being.

But in the vernacular, much is made of the location.  The song begins, "away in a manger." We are meant to be impressed with the idea that the son of God was born in this very humble location. So impressed that we make big plastic replicas of it propped on front lawns with lights in them.

Yet "in the manger," it is the action that takes place that's important. A gathering occurs, in which  animals, shepherds, angels, and the wisest men of the age arrive; all of them acquire proximity to the sacred, drawn to it not by the physical location it occupies, but the state it represents. We might liken the Christ child to a force of gravity, a sacred principle of energy that draws us all inward towards God, regardless of our station. And indeed, the Kingdom of Heaven — the state of proximity to the sacred — is an inner state of action that draws being towards it, not a place. In the end, it is useless to try and locate the sacred in any specific place within Being, because the whole of Being itself is, to the extent that it forms inwardly, the manifestation of the sacred, and it can't be localized. There aren't any mangers; Being moves where it will. The Son of Man has no place to rest his head.

 Perhaps the difficulty we have in an inner sense is this question of location, which we so doggedly insist on. If we examine Jeanne de Salzmann's repeated questions about, and challenges to, our attachment to our thought, our habit, what we believe in, perhaps we can see that these are locations, places in which we become stuck — geographies which we insist on gluing everything to. It is the inner geography of our Being that is at fault here — we draw life into this static place, which could be labeled a manger, or a Kingdom of Heaven.  We put pushpins into the sacred and tack it down to specimen boards.

 Hence the sacred isn't a fluid, living experience of Being anymore; it is about the place we are in, not a freedom of movement that's capable of responding to the outer not because of inner place, but because of inner state.


1 comment:

  1. "the seeing of this whole complex process is meditation from which alone comes order in this confusion. This order is as absolute as is the order in mathematics, and from this there is action - the immediate doing. Order is not arrangement, design and proportion: these come much later. Order comes out of a mind that is not cluttered up by things of thought. When thought is silent there is emptiness, which is order." (Krishnamurti [of course], 'Meditations, 1969.'....


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