Sunday, May 18, 2014

Not knowing God

Abandoned Ching Dynasty residence on the Grand Canal, Wuxi, China

 I try to know God by moving the furniture around.

 This is a time-consuming activity; it takes an enormous amount of energy and there is a lot of furniture, which can be rearranged endlessly. There are also countless opinions on how furniture ought to be arranged, and a seemingly endless set of furniture manufacturers.

To complicate matters even further, I love shopping for furniture.

I forget that furniture has a purpose, and that that purpose is living. All of the furniture ought to be in service; but it takes over my life and becomes this huge pile of clutter, which actually distracts me. Everything inside me is like this; although it's impossible for me to see it, inside myself, I'm like those television shows of people who hoard an endless pile of consumer goods. I don't see that my thoughts, my attitudes, my opinions, and my reactions are just consumer goods which I pile up and covet. I have picked almost all of them off supermarket shelves designed and populated by other people.

 When we announce that the outer condition reflects the inner one, I wonder whether we realize that our consumer society is a dismayingly precise reflection of our inner state. Even those of us who hold consumerism in contempt don't see that we are participants, not disinterested and objective judges. I see this constantly in the outward opinions of my friends, who (for example) all consume energy greedily, but want to pretend they carry no blame and have no immediate responsibility for the process of its extraction, and are fit to determine just how that ought to take place.

It's no different with God.  This is a complex analogy, so I will try to boil it down to a simple point — God, like everything else that surrounds us, is seems as a consumer product, and we treat Him that way. This is a very dangerous thing, because we are completely in love with consumer products, and they are an exact reflection of our inner world, which wants to selfishly take and consume things. We even adopt inner positions which are, in our rationalized explanations to ourselves, wonderfully sacred, and holy, and completely detached from any consumer attitude, when in fact, the consumer attitude is at their root and foundation — simply because the rationalizations couldn't exist if the consumerism didn't trigger them.

It takes a lifetime, I am sure, of knowing how this furniture is cluttered in order to understand what is going on — and even then, one understands nothing until one sees that the whole pile of it, everything, is nothing more than absolute proof that I do not know God.

And then God comes.

Many years ago, I said this is a revolution. The house and all the furniture become meaningless and even, in the end, useless, because I do not have a real house or real furniture. My own Being is the house, and my availability — the emptiness of my own Being—is the only thing it ought to be furnished with.

 It is precisely in this not knowing of God, the sum total of it, that the knowing exists, because knowing and not knowing perfectly reflect one another and exist together in the coming of God.

I don't expect anyone to quite understand what I am saying there. Of course it sounds like nonsense. But in any event, that is how it strikes me this morning, and so I have spoken of it.


1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you've heard me say that anything I own owns me back, or when it went missing I wouldn't bother looking for it. Since I am not going to be taking any "stuff" with me when I go, I might as well dis-identify now. I hereby throw away the world. Bye bye...


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