Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Religious Impulse

Dr. Welch was famous for opening meetings of any kind with the question, "why don't we work?" Or, conversely, "why do we work?"

I can still hear his gravelly voice intoning these questions, deep within my being, where there is no time and people don't die.

One might as well ask, "Why do we or don't we work?"

Why, in fact, do anything at all?

I only find the answers to these questions within me, within my own impulses and relationship to the sacred. When in alignment, there is only one thing to do, and that is to attempt to Be within the Presence of this higher energy.  There seems to be general agreement, I think, that this state becomes one of wordlessness; and some call it silence, or, the silence, as though there were only one silence, and it were distinct from other things, when in fact, it has a very different quality than the word or its various distinctions.

 But I call this, for myself, Being within the Presence of the Lord, because I don't—I have no right to— seek to have a Presence of my own; and it is only when the taste, the deep physical sensation and emotional vibration of this Presence emerges from I know not where to manifest within Being that any real life seems possible.

This is Ibn al 'Arabi's The Reality; and, of course, it is also The Reality of Being.

Do I acknowledge that all of these questions—the piles of books, the techniques, the meetings, the advisors and guides, the "teachers"—are all aimed at one thing, which is to discover God within the immediate Presence of one's Being?

If I do anything, it is only for this; why else should I get up in the morning but for the taste of this Presence? What else could be sweeter? What else could be more true or more real? And why would I even want to live except in the context of this understanding?

I was reading Meister Eckhart's 15th sermon this morning, in which he explains that all works and all time are neither good nor bad, and always pass into nothingness. The point that he makes in this magnificent and concise sermon is that everything, absolutely everything that takes place — objects, events, circumstances, and conditions — is only of value in so far as it brings the soul into closer proximity with God. Any goodness there may be is contained within the relationship to God, not within any of the actions or objects. So the only thing that actually matters is this presence and relationship, and goodness and badness — which are temporal and ephemeral, and forever fade into nothingness — only matter in so far as they lead me to turn towards God, or away from Him. The comments he makes are, as it happens, identical in both their particulars and in their wholeness to what Swedenborg has to say on the subject.

 In point of fact, all durability, all eternity, emerges from and is entirely dependent on this question of relationship, and the direction in which my inner Being faces.


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