Saturday, March 28, 2015

An essential goodness that flows in

Old City Wall Taoist Temple 
Shanghai, China

 Shanghai, March 29.  I woke up, as usual, very early today, trying — as I do every morning — to reassemble a whole picture of life, as though the night before had shattered everything into fragments that need to be gathered together again in silence before anything else can begin.

This morning, at breakfast, I started jotting down thoughts about the difference between inner and outer knowing. It's necessary to know everything from an outward point of view; yet from an inward point of view, it's equally necessary to know nothing.

Understanding the difference between understanding and not understanding lies between these two points of knowing.

That little bit of pondering didn't, however, turn out to be the center of gravity for my breakfast this morning; instead, it lay in the realm of goodness.

It strikes me that goodness continually flows into my life, and into my Being. Goodness consists of an objective quality which is both loving and sorrowful; it is unselfish, and above all, it is generous. I don't think I can know goodness without knowing this generosity of both spirit and substance, which is willing to offer. In the end, when I am touched by these forces — objective forces that lie on a level much higher than the nonsense mankind is generally up to — I'm reminded of what it really means to be religious, what it really means to be Christian — although it is the same thing, within the truth of goodness, to be Buddhist, or Muslim, or Jewish, or Hindu, or what have you. The truth of goodness, of generosity and unselfishness, is religion — it doesn't matter what name I paste on it.

This goodness doesn't flow into life from material things or created things. Goodness comes before those things, and merely — according to circumstance — expresses itself through them. I've become more and more sensible to the understanding, as I grow older, that even the worst sorts of things emanate from a goodness I cannot understand. This often arises in me through contradictory impulses; some bad thing happens, and I understand, paradoxically, that it was a good thing. The process doesn't make sense at all to me; and yet, I sense that I am in some way lightly brushing up against Meister Eckhart's understanding of God's Will, which is always generous and loving, even when it appears to be cruel and heartless.

I'm not going to make sense of this; and I suppose that I have to trust in God and go forward, knowing that I will forever be no more than a small, very confused creature in this regard.

It's my feeling impulse that gives me a taste of real life; and I wish that that impulse were inwardly formed more thoroughly in me, so that the impulse was a true one, formed around the sweet kernel of goodness that lies at the heart of Being.

I see that for the most part, this sweet kernel of goodness is, in me, floating in a sour sauce.

I suppose that's what makes a dish taste interesting; so perhaps I could be grateful for it. I'm not sure at all, however, that I am; I'd like to be better than I am, but I don't know how.

 In any event, this goodness that flows in, the sensation of an energy that consists of love, becomes a constant reminder of the effort I need to make to come to my life more honestly.


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