Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Be, then think

Over the last week or so, I've pondered this idea of selectivity several times. Yesterday, I discussed it in terms of ratings, evaluation, and measurement; and about a week ago, there was an essay about how we want to reject some things in life, but not others, so that we cherry pick our life for the things we like and the things we feel okay about.

This morning, walking up the stairs to the office, I was distinctly impressed by the fact that I have a destructive tendency in me. I think all human beings are like this. We have an impulse towards destruction which comes, perhaps, not even from the animal; it comes from deeper down, from some deeply irrational part that wants to destroy for no reason whatsoever other than that destruction can be accomplished. These unfeeling and unthinking impulses are hard to explain; perhaps they emerge from some universal force that requires destruction.

In any event, my impression is that there's a connection between the rejection, the selectivity, and this impulse for destruction. All of them are unfeeling and mindless; every one of them is automatic. And when I cherry pick, when I select, when I evaluate, I am always missing something. There is, after all, a distinctive value in the bad as well as the good; and each one can teach me. Yet when I reject the bad, I don't see the teaching in it — and because I like to reject the bad, I miss half the teaching, since, without a doubt, fifty percent of everything is bad, give or take.

I cannot cherry pick existence. I am here to inhabit it fully. The question is what kind of sustenance I draw from it; how it feeds me. There is a reciprocal feeding that takes place between the finer energies that penetrate my existence from within, and the coarse energies that enter from outside the body in the form of various impressions. In categorizing, and conceptualizing, in — for all intents and purposes — creating objects, events, circumstances, and conditions (for in the end I make them in my mind) I devalue.

This is a strange concept, because in the categorizing and conceptualizing, I steadfastly believe I am engaged in the opposite action — that I am valuing. This is a product of the intellectual mind, and it is so powerful that it overwhelms even the most intelligent people, ones who ought to be able to see that there is a very distinct difference between Being and thinking.

This confusion between being and thinking characterizes mankind, in fact, for everyone thinks they Are, instead of understanding that they Are, and then thinking.

 In this peculiar way, then, the intellectualization of existence and the outwardness of life have a destructive action on Being; by now, it is so obscured that I am not even sure what it is.

 But encountering a different energy can help.

 The Dharma is a single thing, a whole thing. This business of dividing it is a dangerous one.

In sermon 84, Meister Eckhart advises us:

The third thing is that the soul should ascend for the same she finds in God, for there is no different. Wisdom and goodness are one in God. What wisdom is, that very same is goodness, and what is mercy is the same as justice. 

If goodness in God were one thing and wisdom another, there would be no satisfaction for the soul in God: for the soul is by nature inclined to goodness, and creatures all have a natural longing for wisdom. 

For a soul overflowing with goodness, if goodness were one thing and wisdom another, she would have to abandon wisdom with pain; and if she wanted to pour forth wisdom she would have to abandon goodness with pain.

Hosannah.

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