Capitals at St. Lazare, Autun
photograph by the author
From an exchange on Dec. 10: in reply
It’s true that “no” is part of the process; so all of “no“ is both necessary, and true; think of it as an ingredient without which bread cannot be made. It’s the salt; but as soon as you put too much salt in your dough, the yeast won’t rise.
Real change is syncretic and incremental; above all, one can be certain that it will go in directions you never anticipated and produce results you never could have imagined. So when we reach what we have anticipated and get the results we have imagined, already, we have not gone far enough.
What you are saying is rather lengthy and contains a real question. But take a look at the character it acquires in its evolution: It becomes involuted, and convoluted. It is smart and complicated, folded up against itself like a cerebral cortex.
These are appealing and attractive features, and because they denote a real (albeit partial) form of intelligence you are enjoying it— probably a bit too much.
There is a way to simplify from where you are. That’s the question to put in front of yourself.
How do I simplify the experience instead of analyzing it? Clear out the brush.
I was discussing this question with a young woman tonight. I explained to her that we try in our inner experience to discover a way to stay one step ahead of our ordinary intelligence and our intellectual experience. So, I told her, when the mind says, “blah blah blah“ —that is, it comes up with its usual analysis and commentary and agonizing over things — one doesn’t say to it, “yes, but...”
one says , “yes, and...”
That is, we acknowledge the truth and the validity of what the mind does so that it understands it is included, not rejected, and a friend, not an enemy. We then go one step further by adding to it and reminding it that there is more there than the mind alone.
We move on in the midst of the turning thought even as we acknowledge it.
…This question of how long one has to bear one’s own mechanical nature before one knows there is a God also comes on the order of a demand that excludes.
Don’t begin with the presumption that you don’t know there is God.
We can go back to something I said to the young woman tonight. She asked me how to develop compassion in herself, and I told her,
“It’s already there. You are just looking in the wrong direction.“
God is exactly like that.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.