The Loaded Gun

November 12, 2010 § 19 Comments

When my daughter Alex was in high school, she used to lament that she should have been born in the age of Middle Earth.  Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and Peter Jackson’s three brilliant films of the same depicted a life that corresponded to a greater Reality–a world where a person could be brave and serve something greater than themselves.   When I was in high school, I dreamed about being a seeker like Siddhartha in ancient.  According my inner logic, being like Siddhartha was also like being akind of modern Dharma bum.  I remember sitting in a big broken down chair in the rec room of a friend who liked to go by the nickname Shiva Gonzo (subtle, I know).   Gonzo could always have friends over, and an ever-changing group of us would smoke cigarettes and listen to bands like Blue Oyster Cult and Ten Years After, surrounded by big drippy candles.  I once read a line by Leroy Jones/I.  Baraka, about being the secret ascetic at the end of the bar.  That was what I was like,  secretly monkish, hiding among the psychedelic crowd, hiding my extreme idealism under hippie clothes.  We would talk about books like Be Here Now by Ram Dass.   When I grew up, I would interview Ram Dass for a magazine.  I told him that his book had been a kind of life line to me during adolescence.  It was proof that a person could seek and find a way.  I asked him if he heard that a lot.  He laughed and slapped the arm of his wheelchair and basically said that if he had a nickle for every time someone said that to him, he would be a rich man.

How vividly I rememberthat adolescent longing to penetrate to a life that felt more Real.   As I said, I would play at being a kind of hippie outlaw.  I think for a lot of kids, even now,  there is a lof of trying on personas, a lot of seeking extremes–of love and hate, heat and cold–as if that’s what it takes to break through the dreaminess and numbness of the age.  Here’s a strange and revealing little story.  One day I drove far into the Adirondacks with my then boyfriend.  His father owned a hunting lodge along with a small group men.  It stood on a vast track of untrammeled woodland.  It was an authentic rustic hunting lodge in every way, meaning it contained rifles, and I took one.  M boyfriend and I walked and walked through the snow, enjoying the vast solitude, and (in my case) the thrill of having a loaded rifle on my shoulder.  To be armed and dangerous and possibly a little under the influence, how real!   We sat down on a high ridge and looked out at the untouched beauty around us.  Breathing in and breathing out, surveying untouched wintery vastness,  like pioneers, right down to the loaded rifle resting across my lap.   Without warning, a tiny figure lurched out of the woods and into the open meadow below us.  He lurched, hunch-backed, like the abomindable snowman.  Without a thought, I raised and aimed the rifle–and I saw myself do it.  I saw that I was in pieces, and that the instinctive part of me was quicker than my ability to make out a figure in the distance.  I was full of wonderment about this–that I was made of such different and unrelated parts.  And who saw this?  Who awareness that could take it all in?

The figure drew closer.  It was a local mountain boy who had crashed through the ice while crossing a stream on his snow machine.  He was shaking from head to toe.  We  helped him tow it out of the creek and offered him warm clothes, which he refused.  Amazingly, he got the machine started and drove off.  He said he didn’t live far.  I stood there, looking after him, feeling like he had been a kind of herald.  He showed me that the quest wasn’t far, far away in India.  It was right here and right now.  It was in me.  The mystery was right here–and so was the path.  This is what gets hard to put into words–and it goes to the heart of what Parabola is about.  What does it mean to find a true path or a way?   It isn’t just subscribing to a particular tradition, like the Middle Way (or the Way of Middle Earth, in my daughter’s case).  It has to do with finding the way to Reality, with help (we can’t do it alone), but for yourself.

P.S.  I haven’t carried arms since.

Have a great weekend!

§ 19 Responses to The Loaded Gun

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    Tracy,

    When you ask; “what does it mean to find a true path or a way?”

    My mind goes in all sorts of directions, but in the last few years, I’ve found that there is more power in traveling this path with others, than walking it alone. Maybe I just woke up to that fact, shifted my consciousness so to speak.

    Community is everything along this path, because it leads us into relationships with one another. I hope this makes sense, but I think that it is actually part of the “critical path” we must follow.

    In business, information technology project management specifically, the “critical path” is made up of all the key milestones and tasks you must perform to begin and end a project, to move from point A all the way to point Z. But, you’re not going to accomplish any of these task, especially technical ones, without engaging the right resources, and that ultimately is about relationship management and conversational leadership.

    Opportunities are presented to us all the time at a personal and professional level, it’s all personal by the way, no matter what occupation/vocation we may have or how we earn our living. These opportunities are actually calling us into new relationships with others. And it is these relationships that compose, compile, and create the reality we experience around us., and the success we find in life.

    I can make or break a relationship, and in turn a business goal or project, by how I am interacting with others. How I am treating them, with respect of course, but there is something else at play here, something subtle at work. If I expect great things, and let everyone know that up front, I’m going to see and get great results. It’s part of what we do to build up a team. People will live up to the expectations and goals we often set, it happens all the time. It can be really interesting to watch in a business context.

    There is no reason to limit it there though, this does carry over into all your personal relationships too, being mindful and intention about our relationships is part of the “critical path.” In other words you must make the time to invest in those relationships.

    What are these relationships, well they are simply all over the place, they flow all through your life. Think about it, we are who we are, because of all our relationships.

    Here is a suggestion, take some time and list out all the relationships you have, and then begin to deconstruct them simply by drawing a line through each one. Who would you be, if you did not know this person for instance, that person might be your spouse or a child or a parent or a co-worker.

    Who would you be without these people in your life? But, it can also be the city or town you live in. For instance, if I lived in NYC, instead of Houston, Texas, my whole reality would be different. What if I live in another solar system or in a galaxy far far away, like Luke Skywalker? The point is, our relationships sustain us.

    Let’s point this in another direction, what about the things we read and study, that is another relationship at play here, making up our reality, shaping that reality.

    Of course flowing through all these relationships is something of the divine, the divine is at work in the world, at work in our world. Our sense of reality does arise out of this gestalt. Of course, if we can shift our perception at bit, wake up a bit, that too changes our whole reality.

    When the watcher within, knows what they are watching and can not only see an event unfolding, but stops and is mindful, then they can change their future, literally.

    Sorry, this is so long, but I hope I’m making sense here.

    Please have a great weekend.

    Ron

  • tracycochran says:

    Ron,

    These are very valuable insights and suggestions. I will try the exercise you describe–and probably share it with others. Thank you!

    You will definitely be on the list. Among many other things, thanks to you and Elizabeth, I will be meeting Paul Knitter next week.

    We do need community–we are made of it.

    You have a great weekend in or about Houston,

    Tracy (in New York)

  • Nick_A says:

    H Tracy

    What does it mean to find a true path or a way? It isn’t just subscribing to a particular tradition, like the Middle Way (or the Way of Middle Earth, in my daughter’s case). It has to do with finding the way to Reality, with help (we can’t do it alone), but for yourself.

    Yes, that is the question for me as well. There seems to be a big difference between what we believe ought to be and what actually IS.

    It seems to me that there are two primary ways of confronting this problem. The first deals with the Socratic axiom “know thyself.” but as kant said, this is hell so how many have both the need and ability to avoid imagining oneself for the sake of truth?

    Then it requires a quality of love only a few are capable of since it requires sacrificing imagination.

    “To love truth means to endure the void and, as a result, to accept death. Truth is on the side of death” Simone Weil

    This has helped me to appreciate what is meant by the need to die to oneself, ones imagination, for the sake of truth I read depicted in the ancient traditions.

    As of now, I admit that it is beyond me. But I am convinced that there is now and has been a small minority capable of sacrificing imagination from the need for the inner freedom truth provides. I also believe that the survival of humanity depends upon the influence of this rare minority that sustains the conscious connection between above and below.

    But for me, if I can be a good Obyvatel, at least I am part of the slow path of conscious evolution. Better that than hurting myself and others by offering imagination to those with a serious need for “truth” and acquiring the karmic consequences through the desrire for self importance.

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    Hi Tracy,

    How very exciting to hear that you are going to meet Paul Knitter, I’m glad I had some small part to play in that meeting. I hope all goes well with him, please give him my very best, even if he doesn’t recall me emailing him. Perhaps he will, I hope so, that would just be nice.

    There I go clinging to desire again. Although, I will be very excited to hear how the conversation goes.

    Someone else to put on your long list, who has contributed to Parabola before, is Cynthia Bourgeault. Her most recent book, that just came out, it is The Meaning of Mary Magdalene.

    http://integrallife.com/node/84116

    Peace,
    Ron

  • Robert L. Rose says:

    be, after all, here… now

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    A final thought on this thread from one of my friends and a fellow teacher …

    “The world is coming from you, not at you.”

  • Nick_A says:

    Hi Ron

    Is the world coming from you or through you? You seem to imply a quality of choice that I don’t believe exists for the “Great Beast” or society as a whole. So, “Since we are as we are, everything is as it is.”

    Actually the question of social force is an important and usually neglected one. It doesn’t “feel good” to admit the truth of the human condition. Simone Weil in her essay in the Iliad defnes the hero of the Iliad as “force.”

    http://www.cpfphila.org/NL0602/NL0602%205.html

    “The true hero, the real subject, the core of the Iliad, is force. That force which is wielded by men rules over them, and before it man’s flesh cringes. The human soul never ceases to be modified by its encounter with force, swept on, blinded by that which it believes itself able to handle, bowed beneath the power of that which it suffers. Those who dreamt that force, thanks to progress, belonged henceforth to the past, have been able to see its living witness in this poem: those who know how to discern force throughout the ages, there at the heart of every human testament, find here its most beautiful, most pure of mirrors.”
    ***************

    From this perspective, the Beast does not create anything but like any Beast, is a creature reacting to “force” in a world that itself functions in continual reaction.

    • Ron Starbuck says:

      Nick,

      Actually, I’m pretty sure that we do create our own reality, literally. This is a truth that impacts me every day. It’s also an attitude that I’ve seen at play and in practice by a lot of very successful people. We do have choices, and we make those choices all the time.

      So, for me, it is all about choices, thought and emotional choices, romantic choices, selfish choices, selfless choices, financial choices, and charitiable choices that in turn shape your relationships with others and your reality.

      At least this true in my own life.

      You may choose to be angry with someone or not angry, you can see those thoughts coming your way and simply let them go. You can stop that karmic cycle of thought and action at anytime. This is one the things that meditation teaches us to do intentionally, it takes practice but it can be done.

      This is true of any strong emotion if we are watchful; desire, sadness, sorrow, impatience, etc.

      We are of course human, and such emotions can get the best of us at times.

      This is why we have love, grace, forgiveness, etc., you may choose to forgive or not forgive, to love or not to love, to be gracious or not.

      These all impact your reality and your relationships.

      Does that make sense?

      Ron

  • Many thanks to all of you. I am learning so much!
    Ron, I have picked up a book by the author that you recommended, and I love your thoughts on making a list of all the people ,events, and places in our lives and then crossing them out. It helps me to see that even the “not-so-good” has, in the bigger picture of life, been “good” because it has and is always helping to shape who and what I am. How I act to life in its many forms and events, or don’t act, (which in a way is also an act) all contribute to who I am.
    I think I am finally learning, at least a little bit, to open these “clenched fists” of mine!
    Tracy, you are a born mystic, I think! :~)
    Your interview with Paul will be wonderful, insightful, and rewarding for both of you, I suspect.
    Peace to all,
    e

    • Nick_A says:

      Hi Ron

      The question of human choice and the difference between ACTION and REACTION is an involved topic and beyond the scope of this thread.

      When I recently attended the American Weil Society colloquy I contributed on “Choice” as it concerns this excerpt:

      “The sea is not less beautiful to our eye because we know that sometimes ships sink in it. On the contrary, it is more beautiful still. If the sea modified the movement of its waves to spare a boat, it would be a being possessing discernment and choice, and not this fluid that is perfectly obedient to all external pressures. It is this perfect obedience that is its beauty.” “All the horrors that are produced in this world are like the folds imprinted on the waves by gravity. This is why they contain beauty. Sometimes a poem, like the Iliad, renders this beauty.” “Man can never escape obedience to God. A creature cannot not obey. The only choice offered to man as an intelligent and free creature, is to desire obedience or not to desire it. If he does not desire it, he perpetually obeys nevertheless, as a thing subject to mechanical necessity. If he does desire obedience, he remains subject to mechanical necessity, but a new necessity is added on, a necessity constituted by the laws that are proper to supernatural things. Certain actions become impossible for him, while others happen through him, sometimes despite him.” Excerpt from: Thoughts without order concerning the love of God, in an essay entitled L’amour de Dieu et le malheur (The Love of God and affliction). Simone Weil

      What you are calling “choice” IMO is just the adoption of what appears to be a favorable REACTION. Animals in the jungle react in the same way. It determines what is collectively done. Since external conditions change, our “choices” change. It is why we can kill one day and cure on the next while considering it normal.

      This is why “force” is the hero. It is what creates lawful reactions. Karma is based on understanding “force” and why it must be considered as justice.

      I’m not against favorable reactions but by remembering that they are reactions it leaves me to remember what human “choice” can actually mean. The most vivid example of “choice” was the willingness and ability for Jesus to remain conscious of himself during the Crucifixion. This “choice” is what enabled the Resurrection.

      When a person comes to see how far we are from retaining self awareness in our daily lives, we see how far we are from the quality of consciousness that can “choose” the Crucifixion for the sake of its results.

      “Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness.” Simone Weil….” Gravity and Grace

      A healthy ego that functions as a conscious connection between our inner world and the external world would be capable of ACTION. The human condition that manifests in the world through the darkness of imagination limits our choice to REACTIONS we are conditioned to be considered favorable.

      Remembering this helps me to retain a quality of humility favorable to understanding I would no longer want to be without.

    • Ron Starbuck says:

      Elizabeth Stock – My curiosity has gotten the best of me I’m afraid. How do you know Paul Knitter? Friend? Neighbor? Teacher? Send me an email if that is better for you.

      Peace,

      Ron

      ronstarbuck@sbcglobal.net

  • tracycochran says:

    thank you, e. for introducing me to paul knitter and for your thoughtful comments here.

  • Nick_A says:

    Hi Ron

    We’re not saying the same thing but that’s OK. We have different directions and yours is in the majority. Your emphasis is on community and mine is on individuality. We have to consider them in the light of Tracy’s question. She wrote:

    What does it mean to find a true path or a way? It isn’t just subscribing to a particular tradition, like the Middle Way (or the Way of Middle Earth, in my daughter’s case). It has to do with finding the way to Reality, with help (we can’t do it alone), but for yourself.
    ***************************************8

    I think we would agree that it is part of the search for “meaning.” we reach points in our lives where we have a greater desire to get to the bottom of it. Some emphasize meaning through service to a community and others find it through the efforts to become themselves.

    I’ve come to believe that humanity in the world needs a certain minimum of true individuals for its survival. That is why I will be arranging introductions to Simone Weil and her need for the Pearl of Great Price and her willingness to sacrifice her vanity for it. This is a real individual: a “Black Sheep.”

    Consider why Julia Haslett created the documentary on Simone Weil that is just now making its debut in Amsterdam. Simone’s individuality somehow touched her need for meaning.

    http://www.linestreet.net/

    What response does seeing human suffering demand of us? Filmmaker Julia Haslett seeks an answer in the controversial French philosopher and activist Simone Weil (1909-1943), whose life and work took on this question in a dramatic way. Adopting Weil as her guide through an engaging and profound moral landscape, Julia goes on a journey to understand Weil’s loss of faith in revolutionary politics and the spiritual awakening that followed. Driving her obsession with Weil is the interwoven story of suffering within Haslett’s own family––her father’s suicide when she was 17 and now her older brother’s severe depression. When Weil dies from self-starvation at the height of World War II, she is left wondering if death was the logical conclusion to Weil’s philosophy and her attempt to share the pain of others?

    ************************************

    Julia was compelled to reconcile the contradictions in her own life as well as the nature of the world. How can we understand suffering? She didn’t want consolation but rather needed to “understand.”

    If you click on “trailer” you will get an idea of what the documentary is about. You can also go directly:

    I’ve come to agree with Thomas Merton that her influence as well as those like her are essential for humanity to become more human. My emphasis is on furthering individuality and what supports it. It is raw. Coming to grips with what we lose through our lack of quality attention doesn’t require wonderful thoughts or platitudes. It requires both the need and courage to be real. Consider what he wrote:

    Simone Weil and Thomas Merton were born in France 6 years apart – 1909 and 1915 respectively. Weil died shortly after Merton entered the Abbey of Gethsemani. It is unclear whether Weil knew of Merton, but Merton records being asked to review a biography of Weil (Simone Weil: A Fellowship in Love, Jacques Chabaud, 1964) and was challenged and inspired by her writing. “Her non-conformism and mysticism are essential elements in our time and without her contribution we remain not human.” He then quotes Weil directly, “Blessed are they who suffer in the flesh the suffering of the world itself in their epoch. They have the possibility and function of knowing its truth, contemplating its reality…”
    ***************************

    Community needs conformism. Individuality requires the courage to as Simone did, to “Annoy the Great Beast.”

    Those who feel Tracy’s question IMO can profit from both approaches to further their need to follow a path that leads to the “way.” I’m one of the minority that seek to further the “black sheep” and what they inspire regardles of how infuriating they are at the expense of appearing “wonderful.”

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    Hmmm….

    Here is that problem with language again and how we say things, and what we really mean by what we are saying.

    Ring around the rosey,
    A pocketful of posies.
    ashes, ashes.
    We all fall down.

    Nick –

    This is what I’m thinking of when speaking of community and relationships and in how they guide and shape us, our reality, the world too.

    People can and do find community in many places, but it does not have to been seen in a context of conformity vs. non-conformity. Community does helps us to grow as individuals it gives shape to our individuality, or our individual self, our uniqueness as individuals arises out the communities we participate in and help to create. We learn and grow through these communities, For example these communities that come to my mind.

    The …

    Taizé Community in France

    Order of InterBeing (Thich Nhat Hanh)

    Abbey of Gethsemani (Thomas Merton)

    World Community of Christian Meditation (John Main & Laurence Freeman)

    Order of Julian of Norwich

    Society of Saint Francis, Third Order

    The Gurdjieff Foundation

    Trinity Wall Street 😉

    Trinity Episcopal Church Houston 😉

    The church or school or yoga center just around the corner from your home.

    Here is a question to consider.

    What communities or communal experiences (communion with others) shaped Simone Weil, Thomas Merton, Gurdjieff, Mother Theresa, Jeanne de Salzmann, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jesus, Buddha, etc., you can add more to the list.

    We do ourselves a great disservice if we do not place a value on the small and intimate things that comprises the life of an average person, including all the relationships involved and the communities they particpate in every day. These relationships do shape and sharpen us, our friendships shape us, our working relationships shape us, the organizations both secular and sacred that we belong to shape us tremendously.

    I AM – Ron who is married to Joanne.
    I AM – Ron who is the son of Bob and Edna.
    I AM – Ron who attends a church, Trinity Epsicopal.
    I AM – Ron who knows and practices IT Program Managment and calculates ROIs.
    I AM – Ron who writes poetry and who reads Thomas Merton, Willian Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Mary Oliver, James Joyce, Laurence Freeman, Cynthia Bourgeault, Rev. William Miller, Barbara Taylor Brown, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Campbell.
    I AM – Ron who is typing these words.
    I AM – Ron, with many other hats and roles to play in this life.

    In looking at the whole body of work by Simone Weil (1909-1943), we should also look at her relationships, plus the historical and social context of the times in which she lived. What was the world like then? There is no doubt that she was brilliant and creative and a high mystic.

    But, in some sense we can all become mystics. I’ll quote a bit of Paul Knitter here, from his book.

    The 20th century Christian theologian Karl Rahner once wrote: “In the future Christians will be mystics, or they will not be anything.” In Christianity the primary adjective used to describe mystical experiences is unitive or in union with, meaning that such an experience is to feel “oneself connected with, part of, united with, aware of, one with, something or some-activity larger than oneself.” In short, this is an experience of the non-duality of God that begins for Christians with kenosis, the Greek word for emptiness or to empty ourselves as Christ emptied himself, becoming a servant to all humankind.

    In his newest book, “Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian”, Prof. Paul F. Knitter, who holds the Paul Tillich chair at Union Theological Seminary, speaks of God as being a verb instead of a noun or an adjective.

    Understanding God through relationships is critical in seeing how Prof. Knitter views the nature of God as the source and power of our relationships. We see God who is present to the world through relationships, and these relationships are a reflection of, an echo of, even an actualization of the very nature of God.

    It’s an interesting path to go down. Who would you be without these relationships and the communities you participate in every day?

    Peace,

    Ron

    if I am to understand
    the mystery of creation
    then I think it is found

    in the pain of others
    in their own humanity and inability
    to release themselves from desire

  • Nick_A says:

    Hi Ron

    Though we disagree, don’t take it as me being critical but rather my only my efforts to appreciate what has been known by people above me in heart and mind to whatever degree.

    We use words like community and love without an appreciation of a scale of objective quality. Objective quality in this sense is that which reflects a higher quality of “being” which in turn is defined by its relative closeness to the source.

    Where people like Paul Knitter seek a progressive form of Christianity, I seek to understand what it was before the “improvements” that devolved it into various forms of Christendom.

    Love is another word used without a sense of scale. Jesus actually tried to allow Peter to experience the difference between conscious and mechanical love but to no avail.

    My interest is in the unification of science and religion. They are both true but the human condition has created an artificial division. Society should further it but having become “The Great Beast” is incapable of it. I agree that there are certain select communities that appreciate the purpose of creating individuality rather than requiring individuality to sacrifice itself for the sake of community. However they are rare. The same grouping using the same name can be either expressions of secularism or true esotericism.

    Plato used the word “metaxu” to describe the relative quality of community and Simone Weil went into detail on it in her book “The need for Roots.”

    These are involved ideas and beyond the purpose of this thread but if you are curious as to the distinction between the individual and society, you can read this short article.

    http://www.hermitary.com/solitude/weil.html

    According to Weil, the person’s accession to society, the individual’s renunciation of values to the collective as defined by a small group, is based on ignorance and fear, fear that without society (which is to say the state), people will collapse into crime and evil. The social and collective is seen as transcending individuals, as a supernatural entity from which nationalism and war is as normal as science, progress, and consumption. All of these evils are taking place simultaneously in a social context. The individual has probably never reflected on these issues at all, never acknowledged his or her degree of complicity in this system. But, say the apologist for the Great Beast, the individual need have no direct responsibility,
    The collective is the object of all idolatry, this it is which chains us to the earth. In the case of avarice, gold is the social order. In the case of ambition, power is the social order.

    Thus society itself is the Great Beast, not some particular product of society, not even the state, the mode of production, the capitalist class, or any other social product. The weight of humanity is a heavy and ponderous gravity, a force but a contrived force to which the individual remains oblivious.

    As long as one accepts the “totem,” and subordinates all values to the collective, the contrived dichotomy of good and evil will trap individuals in fear. But the solution to the dilemma Weil depicts is not Nietzsche’s transcendence of morality but a simple perception of the nature of society, of the nature of the “Great Beast.”

    It is the social which throws the color of the absolute over the relative. The remedy is in the idea of relationship. Relationship breaks its way out of the social. It is the monopoly of the individual. Society is the cave. The way out is solitude.
    ***************************

    Those like Simone who hunger for the unchanging truths begin to realize that it isn’t provided from within the Beast but the reality above it that the Beast masks through its false gods.
    She wrote:

    “To believe in God is not a decision we can make. All we can do is decide not to give our love to false gods. In the first place, we can decide not to believe that the future contains for us an all-sufficient good. The future is made of the same stuff as the present….

    “…It is not for man to seek, or even to believe in God. He has only to refuse to believe in everything that is not God. This refusal does not presuppose belief. It is enough to recognize, what is obvious to any mind, that all the goods of this world, past, present, or future, real or imaginary, are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire which burns perpetually with in us for an infinite and perfect good… It is not a matter of self-questioning or searching. A man has only to persist in his refusal, and one day or another God will come to him.”
    — Weil, Simone, ON SCIENCE, NECESSITY, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, edited by Richard Rees, London, Oxford University Press, 1968.- ©
    ********************

    Community is a word that must be taken in quotation marks. A person has to find one that serves their aim.

    Those like Simone are “exiles.” it is not a feel good expression and they cannot be understood. They are always condemned. Socrates even describes this condemnation in Plato’s cave analogy:

    [Socrates] And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
    ************************

    Those like Simone were influenced by society and its influence was in revealing its superficiality and the tendency to glorify it. It did not reflect universal truths but rather was just the expression of continual lawful reactions to external influences.

    Meister Eckhart understood the Exile because he was one himself. He wrote:

    “Pity them my children, they are far from home and no one knows them. Let those in quest of God be careful lest appearances deceive them in these people who are peculiar and hard to place; no one rightly knows them but those in whom the same light shines” Meister Eckhart.
    **********************

    You write: “I am Ron who…… I am is always defined by a cultural value. But what is “I am?” does it exist for us? I’ve pretty much verified that it doesn’t. As a denison of Plato’s cave and a creature of reaction lacking inner unity, it cannot. One minute I am one thing and another on the next. “I am” doesn’t exist for me on its own but rather requires an additional description.

    Those that hunger for truth and freedom from the confines of Plato’s cave seek this conscious reconciliation of our many sides.

    My whole disagreement with this New Age Interfaith is that it seeks the unity of religions far to superficially. It feels good to think it but for those like Simone, they understand it on the level as did Frithjof Schuon in his book “The Transcendent Unity of Religions.”

    http://www.monasticdialog.com/a.php?id=151

    We live on the exoteric plane of existence with an awareness of the Transcendent that because of our quality of being must devolve into imagination. It is through the esoteric direction where the universal unchanging truths can slowly become experienced.

    Christianity’s great contribution to the esoteric direction is through inviting a quality of consciousness that invites the help of grace. Dr. Henry Leroy Finch refers to it in his book “Simone Weil: The Intellect of Grace.”

    “In Simone Weil’s view there can be no conflict between the valid spiritual teachings of any one of the great religions of the world Whether we are talking about the Celts or the Druids, the Norse or the American Indians African folk religions or the great spiritual traditions of Asia, in every case there is something that belongs to universal religion and that, properly understood, is found to be in harmony with the inner truth of Christianity and the biblical prophets, Greek religion, and Buddhism. We can learn from all of them.”

    “In place of the dominationism built into the biblical traditions, which see themselves as destined for ultimate triumph, since they remain infected by the veneration of power, Simone Weil points to a universal Christianity in which all the other traditions retain their identity and place in the light of a supernatural love that accepts and makes room for them all.”

    “What has been added here to both traditional Christianity and traditional Gnosticism is an embracing humanism, a point of view that affirms all religions and all peoples in the fullness of human pleroma. In the age of nuclear weapons and the deadly exclusivism and spiritual elitism and claims to metaphysical superiority promise only endless wars and eventually suicide. The traditional God takes sides with one religion or people against others. Only the spirit that puts all traditions and peoples in relation to Divine Love and grace makes possible the fullness of humanity. This is the full ecumenical content of Simone Weil’s gnosis.”

    There is no personal God in Christianity. It is a creation of Christendom. Christianity refers to the Cross and to Grace

    Simone Weil describes the only way in which the goals of religion can be actualized. Simone Weil invites us to inwardly experience how far we are from it. A community that seeks the conscious experience of this truth without prostituting it is a worthwhile community if their collective aim is the hunger for truth and the willingness to experience their nothingness in the face of it for the sake of it.

    Secular love serves secular needs. This is a good thing. Nothing wron with one person helping another in need. However Divine love seeks to awaken a person to the human condition and provide the light necessary to consciously transcend all its hypocrisy that keeps it in darkness. Simone Wrote:

    “The combination of these two facts – the longing in the depth of the heart for absolute good, and the power, though only latent, of directing attention and love to a reality beyond the world and of receiving good from it – constitutes a link which attaches every man without exception to that other reality. Whoever recognizes that reality recognizes that link. Because of it, he holds every human being without any exception as something sacred to which he is bound to show respect. This is the only possible motive for universal respect towards all human beings.” Simone Weil “Draft for A Statement of Human Obligations” SIMONE WEIL, AN ANTHOLOGY ed. Sian Miles

    Simone Weil was an “Exile.” The last time they did something on the Exile in Parabola was back in 1985 if my research is accurate.

    http://www.parabola.org/all-categories/back-issues/vol-10-2

    Not a popular subject. Since I’ve come to appreciate their value in the world regardless of how much they are disliked by the darkness of the world, I seek to further the humbling truths they’ve reminded us of. It is not fashionable, politically correct, or consoling. They serve the purpose of the alarm clock and we all hate alarm clocks. Who wants to admit the human condition as it exists in us?

    As a spiritual broad shouldered Aries male it is natural for me to honor the princess with the ability to kiss the frog and turn it into a prince regardless of how odd they appear to people in general. 🙂

  • Personally, when speaking of “path”, I am reminded of the poem, or prayer….
    Prayer of Abandonment
    “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself,and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefor I will trust You always thought I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear,for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

    by Thomas Merton

  • Nick_A says:

    From the Gospel of Thomas:

    (7) Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.”

    These are two descriptions of a path. Which do you prefer?

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