Monday, December 8, 2008

What I Believe

I believe in exploiting such questions as opportunities to belabor us with old treatments on metaphysical themes written ten years ago, whose profundity is matched only by their pretentiousness and occasionally excellent prose:

In Search of the One

Theocrasy (mystical union of the soul with God) and theophany (visible manifestation of God) seem sublimely marvelous when viewed from an aesthetic remove, as in Renaissance religious art. A touch of gold leaf halo, eyes rolled heavenwards, a slackness of jaw evoking the dignified shitface of divine enlightenment - verily, these are divine illuminations. Likewise, the ten thousand Buddhas reclining across Asia in various trances of beatitude portray union with the Mind of All as no more than a passing dream - which it may well be.

I do not think I truly seek to know the mind of God. I feel certain that such knowledge would be devastating to my mental health; in fact, I’m not sure my physical self could survive the encounter. Thoughts of spontaneous combustion or inexplicable vanishings come to mind or, at best, a stunned body carrying a gibbering tortoise shell of a mind that has learned too much to contain itself, and so become gnostically incontinent.

What I seek, and what I believe so many others have sought, is that part of myself which is directly of God. Whether all of me and what I do are directly of God, or there is but a core of Godness within me, or a conduit between God and I, or an original genesis of self from God whose ripples can be traced... or if God is only these questions I ask myself...

It could be that God is just that: an answer to a rhetorical question, the Big Answer that appears just when or only because it was never truly expected.

I believe it is impossible to know this oneness through the normal siftings of thought. In view of the swarming multiplicities of life, it seems impossible to positively identify a Unifier, Grand Theme, Holy Spirit or Creator amid the myriad patterns of meaning and awareness, even though it is life’s harmonious integrity of swirling diversity that begs for a unifying intelligence to both sustain and explain it all. Not to explain it as a textbook offers detailed explanation of, say, the workings of internal combustion engines (replete with cutaway diagrams and illustrations that have been, as the drafting community so quaintly terms it, "exploded", in order to help us visualize crankshafts, cams and pistons cycling in a ludicrous choreography reminiscent of cinema’s old Silent Era Keystone Cops movies, wherein 15 or 20 helmeted constables bob up & down and in & out of a weaving flivver as if they were the engine itself)... but to explain it as light informs sight and sound imparts hearing. To explain it directly, without artifice, without mediation, the way sunrise and birdcalls reveal a summer morning... or a poetic evasion nevertheless constrains the essence of what is sought.

However scientific is one’s reasoning in approaching the One, and however rigorous is one’s method of approach, the quest inevitably refines itself to something more akin to faith, intuition and desire. To wonder upon the pure invokes pure wonder. I believe that many, even most, of us have reached or touched or talked with the One, with or without recognition or understanding on the part of our consciousness. I believe that I just don’t know, much as I know that I just believe. It is not something that one ‘knows’ except in the way one knows that one’s heart beats or one’s mind thinks. (One can’t verify the heart’s palpitation nor the brain’s cognition without severe consequences. One doesn’t perform open-heart surgery upon oneself; likewise, one doesn’t think about thinking without disrupting the very thoughts one wishes to think about.)

So it is being one among the One. Union is a form of knowledge that defines itself through conscious ignorance: the ability to know what it is that one doesn’t know, to fulfill the vacuum within one’s sphere of knowledge, to perceive those regions that won’t sustain nor endure the scaffolding of rational ideation, to identify the void that can only be filled by one’s awareness. This conscious inability to apprehend the riddle of existence is commonly referred to as surrender or ‘letting go’ or ‘giving up’: “Let go yore sorrows and reach yore haynds up to Gawd, brothers & sisters!”

As easy as it sounds, full surrender is impossible. We can’t stop can-ing any more than we can start can’t-ing. My mind, at least the one on my shoulders, pursues itself with the relentlessness of a ventriloquist’s dummy determined to convince its interlocutor that they are, after all, one and the same, but this act of dialogue defies the One even as it encourages the Same. (Perhaps one head is better than two, but in trying to prove it to one of you that very singularity is lost upon the two of you.)

It is not something one knows except insofar as it is something one does. Its seeming shadow may be inferred from semantic riddles in which it is easy to see that, for example, a single hand cannot clap itself. The Mind of God cannot know the Mind of God any more than one can keep tabs on oneself by following oneself around. “Someday”, said the late and notoriously foulmouthed Miles Davis, “I’m gonna call myself up on the phone and tell myself to shut up!” It would be interesting to see who won that confrontation: RING!


“Listen, motherfucker, why don’t you just shut up!”

“Oh, do be quiet...”

So it is with the One. We presuppose a divine source of light, posit our self-reflecting awareness as a pair of talented hands, and admire the clever silhouettes of God we project upon the phenomenal canvas in beautiful reflections of a Divine Self. Should we try and touch it, however, the act of approach and attempt of apprehension forces a loss of focus which dissolves One’s shadow. As we approach the screen with hands together, still folded in a projectionist’s prayer, we find the silhouette vanished, obscured by the same hands which cast it: absorbed by the One.

In search of the One, one does well to remember that seeking and finding are not the Same, even if the two endeavors are one, too.

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