You Are Accepted

December 30, 2010 § 20 Comments

I was at JFK airport last night.  On the way, I passed many vehicles abandoned in snow banks and on the side of the road.  In the international departure terminal, the crowds were huge and a bit heart-wrenching–so many tired-looking people from so many parts of the world standing inlong, long lines with luggage.  I couldn’t help but think about the hero’s quest and the human journey,  especially since I spent much of the past week (some of it snow-bound and without internet!) helping my daughter Alex prepare for her own big journey.   I was at JFK dropping her off for her flight to England.  She will be studying medieval history and literature at Oxford University, also travelling around, visiting friends here and there, having a grand  adventure!   The Lord of the Rings and Tolkein turned out to be a mentor to Alex in the classic sense.  The great man introduced her to a vast special world and to her own deeper human possibilities.  He showed her that there is something greater to serve in this world, and that valor and adventure and even greatness is possible.

My own path was, well, different.  I didn’t fall in love with LOTR like Alex did, and I didn’t go to Oxford to read Chaucer–or anywhere– junior year.  I moved to New York after college with no prospects, no skills, no connections, no friends, no money, no clue,  just guided by the blind sense that I should draw closer to the fire of life.  I guess the most important book guide I had was Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, or Carlos Castenda, with a dash of the Count of Monte Cristo.  I had the sense that I had to find my true place or calling in life playing different roles in outer life, first as a kind of hippie, a self-styled dharma bum, and then in New York as a worker bee in various underpaid jobs the great buzzing hives of publishing and film.   I kind of blundered along in the dark, seeking a direct experience of the truth.  I had the sense of being an undercover agent assigned to a mission I didn’t yet know, a sleeper agent who would wake up one day and have a complete feeling and understanding of what it means to be alive.

Weeks and weeks ago, I wrote about questioning Miss B., my biology teacher, who locked up some of the parts in the male anatomy torso because “she wasn’t paid to teach pornography.”   Didn’t truth demand all our human parts?   I learned that even asking that question could get you kicked out of class.  Around that time I realized that school wasn’t necessarily about penetrating to the truth–at least not the truth that could pierce you and make you realize your place in the whole of life.   It was about learning mere facts, and worse:  it was about learning the rules of the game–the biology game, the history game…I remember wondering who wrote the history books, who judged the deeds of nations and great men.

I was touched by the exchange that followed my last post.  Nick wrote that he was “drawn now to the plight of young people with both a spiritual heart and scientific mind….They have come to see what Socrates did that all around them are BSing. Unlike Socrates they haven’t yet acquired the confidence to admit their own nothingness. Help is needed and they are deprived of it….” Nick reflected on what it takes really to be helped by a myth, to read it like a map to Reality.

Quoting from The Shaking of the Foundations by Paul Tillich, Ron described how grace can come, how light can pierce the darkness just when all seems lost.  As the new year approaches, the quote Ron shared bears repeating:

Chapter 19: You Are Accepted

http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=378&C=84

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us. It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!” If that happens to us, we experience grace After such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed. In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance.”

It struck me reading this that I barely know how to begin to value this life.  After all these years, I am still a sleeper agent!  Even when I’ve had a piercing insight or moment of grace I go right back to sleep. I still mostly measure my life in terms of my needs and desires.  How often do I remember to say “thank you!” for the pain and restlessness, the dark valleys and stretches of meaninglessness that gave way to light?   This is natural, I suppose–we have many parts, Miss B!  But what if instead of the usual list of resolutions I spent some time reflecting on what came unbidden, just when everything seemed to be going wrong? What if I accept the whole of my life, just as I am accepted by a force or intelligence greater than myself.  What we call awakening or enlightenment is not separate from the movement or state of acceptance.   To understand is to accept, and to accept is to truly love.  Happy New Year.

 

§ 20 Responses to You Are Accepted

  • artxulan says:

    In reading the quote about grace the question of why grace comes seems to be important; because some of the process can be understood. Grace seems to come, sometimes in moments of great emotional, mental or physical pain but it also comes in other moments seemingly without cause, unexpectedly.

    I have seen that grace, there are many dictionary meanings to this word, that is understanding or a gift of what I need will come from intense emotional pain … when I “intentionally suffer” it … as Gurdjieff says. What happens? Clearly these moments are moments of transformation. A part of the identified, asleep self is purified through the fire of suffering. What results is a new substance within my Being, within my body. Grace is a mystery only because we do not understand the laws. We do not understand much about transformation of our Being. Maybe we do know enough to know that it will not come by magic or automatically; always there is a payment to be made. Nothing is gotten free.

    And grace that comes unexpectedly, seemingly without reason? Maybe it is the result of payment in advance.

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    Good Morning Everyone,

    Tracy, thank you again for posting something so thoughtful and meaningful, thank you for your gift of grace and discernment on what to write and how to reach out to others, that is indeed a gift of grace.

    Grace is important. I would say that grace, is simply that grace. It is a gift that is given, that cannot be earned and does come at the most unexpected of times.

    Prayer and meditation and sacrament may prepare us for the gift, these practices may help us to receive the gift with graciousness and humility, and some measure of awareness. What I have come to know in my own experience, my own life, is that grace is always present and that it can be known in many ways; through music, through worship, through conversation, through relationships.

    I’d like to offer something here please, some words of my own and some words of Arthur Miller from his play, After The Fall. If you would like to read the whole thing it is at this URL, and I think it is worth your time. If you read the poem, read on some more, where I have inserted a description and words from the original play performed by the Lincoln Center Repertory Company in 1964.

    http://whenangelsareborn.blogspot.com/2010/11/to-asher-brown-open-letter-from_1759.html

    You may also read some of the following verses. It comes from an open letter to Asher Brown, a thirteen year old gay boy who took is own life this last fall, as did several other gay teenagers.

    What I’m trying to focus on here, are not these tragic events which are indeed tragic and painful and so unacceptable, but how grace and compassion may strike anyone of us at any given moment. Such moments of grace can and do strike us in moments of great pain, but also in moments of great joy. But grace it seems to me is always a gift, a gift of compassion. —

    Asher, listen to me please, listen and know that you are
    loved and accepted by many, especially God, just as you are,
    in all the beauty that you are, just as God made you.

    My wish for you today Asher, as for myself,
    is to feel like Quentin in Arthur Miller’s play
    After the Fall, who said;

    ”and that, that’s why
    I wake each morning like a boy
    —even now, ever now!

    I swear to you, I could love the world again! It’s the knowing
    all? To know, and even happily, that we meet unblessed;
    not in some garden of wax fruit and painted trees, that lie

    of Eden, but after, after the Fall, after many, many deaths. And
    the wish to kill is never killed, but with some gift of courage one
    may look into its face when it appears, and with a stroke of love

    —as to an idiot in the house—forgive it;
    again and again…forever?”

    I first heard these words from “After The Fall” at the age of 11 or 12, spoken by my father then in a sermon he delivered at a suburban church in Kansas City.

    Like a mantra, these words have stayed we me all through my life, offering to me moments of grace in which I could could feel the love of all creation begging to be released, and knowing that is was up to me to help share that love.

    God’s Peace and Happy New Year,

    Ron

    • artxulan says:

      Ron said: “Grace is important. I would say that grace, is simply that grace. It is a gift that is given, that cannot be earned and does come at the most unexpected of times.”

      Sorry Ron I disagree. In my experience grace is a lawful result of work and must in fact be earned. Grace exists, in the form of manifestations, influences coming from a higher world and, like the light of the sun, is available to all indiscriminately. However; if we are blind to it, caught in one thing or the other we will never be sensitive enough to feel the influence coming from another world. We must also not forget that a man, even an ordinary man, has something that the higher needs. It is said that man has possibilities greater even than those of angels. Why is that?

      Perhaps we should also contemplate the difference between Grace and Love. They are not the same thing.

      Eden was not a lie. It did exist and still potentially exists for each of us. What stops us from living there? In this case the scriptures are literally true. It is knowledge/knowing that prevents us from being in the garden of Eden. Knowing has taken up all our energy/attention leaving no place for openness sensitively, simple awareness.

      • Nick_A says:

        Hi there Art

        By lawful work, I presume you mean conscious intent. But some just “luck out.” Can we agree that the following sometimes just happens

        “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
        That saved a wretch like me.
        I once was lost but now am found,
        Was blind, but now I see.

        T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
        And Grace, my fears relieved.
        How precious did that Grace appear
        The hour I first believed.

        I know it doesn’t seem fair. Jesus elaborates on it in Matthew 20:

        1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
        3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

        “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

        7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

        “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

        8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

        9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

        13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

        16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
        **********************

        If a denarius is analogous to grace, this seems politically incorrect. The unions would never go for it.🙂

        “Absolute unmixed attention is prayer. ” Simone Weil
        *************************

        If this is true, it seems that there is a lot going on under the surface we are unaware of but yet because we temporarily get out of our own way, we could invite grace.

      • Ron Starbuck says:

        Art, doing the work does help to increase our awareness and in turn open our being to more readily see and experience grace, and to become more graceful in our own lives.

        But, I don’t know that I can actually create the grace I receive, that does seem to be gift from God, that comes from love.

        It is also a gift that I too may share, can share, with others.

        I love the words gracious, graciously, and graciousness. The obsolete meaning of gracious is Godly. Also, pleasing and acceptable, or merciful and compassionate.

        Then there is graceful, as in moving gracefully, or someone who is full of grace.

        With practice we can learn to become more graceful, as graceful as a ballerina or a swan. Still, it seems that this is simply growing in grace, as in nurturing the God given grace that is given to us each from the moment of our birth.

        In the movie LOTR, there was a moment in which Arwen Undomiel, the daughter of Elrond, the Elf-lord, and Celebrian, passed to Frodo some portion of the grace that gave her an immortal life to help give him strength and healing. She also choose to become mortal for the sake of love.

        So, it is love that gives birth to grace, grace is a natural response to love, to compassion.

  • artxulan says:

    Nick,

    I’m not much on quoting scripture as a substitute for lived, verified experience.

    Again we use this word luck to refer to what? What is luck?

    There is the law of accident. Yes accident is lawful it indicates lack of consciousness and mechanicality. Sometimes the law of accident may be beneficial to us others times not so much. Is it possible to be free of the law of accident? What is the difference between fate and accident? There are endless phenomenon in the universe and these phenomenons come into contact with one another how?

    None of these questions can be answered by the head, that is, purely intellectually. One has to verify them through lived experiences over and over and over and finally maybe we can say that certain things work in certain ways. Such as grace. We could say that we are graced with the Sun warming the earth. Maybe, but this is a condition of the place we inhabit in the solar system. Perhaps the Sun also needs man.

    We are called to explore, to understand; not only with the head but with all the functions which we are given; the head, the heart, the instinctive moving, sex functions. All need to work in harmony with one another. And we need to be present to what they offer. And most of us not only have abnormal functioning of the emotions, the thought, the body but the situation is far more dire in that we also do not have the attention to be aware of these energies and how they are manifesting and being used. We think we do, but mostly that is is a total illusion. Only in a quiet moment, perhaps, sitting in the morning can I begin to see reality within myself.

    • Nick_A says:

      I may be wrong but I do believe that Buddhism doesn’t avoid speculations on God for example because it isn’t a good thing to do but rather knowing because of the human condition that we will screw it up.

      Unfortunately, many avoid pondering and consider avoidance an asset. I believe that Orage understood the value of pondering and distinguished it from mechanical thought.

      Orage:

      “As has been said, a man should spend half, or at least a third, of his life in pondering. Helkdonis stands in relation to the assimilation of foods as pondering stands in relation to impressions.”

      One of us said: “A man must make an effort to resolve the struggle between affirmation and denial, or else the impression goes not to essence but just to his store of information?”

      Orage: “Yes. In other words, pondering is the neutralizing force of thought. Without this, the organism is left with only positive and negative deposits. Pondering is the weighing of ideas. Pondering should include clarity.”
      ************************

      Sacred scripture like the New Testament is designed to enable pondering. We are invited to ponder the question of distribution of grace. It is supposed to create a contradiction. We can either profit from the contradiction or avoid it.

      “When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door.” Simone Weil

      Pondering scripture reveals doors. I see no reason to deny them.

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    Nick wrote, “Only in a quiet moment, perhaps, sitting in the morning can I begin to see reality within myself.”

    This morning I was doing exactly that, sitting and meditating, and simply resting in that grace, or trying my best to.

    In Christianity grace is seen as a gift, one that is given freely by accepting God’s love, or accepting a love that can grant such grace. In the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer you will find this question and answer.

    Q. What is grace?
    A. Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and
    undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens
    our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

    Christians also talk about finding a new life in Christ and the Holy Spirit, and most of them believe that through the Sacrament of Baptism and Eucharist the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them, and that when they prayer, the Holy Spirit prays with and through them.

    These are pretty basic beliefs taught within the catechism for Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and most Protestants. Although, there may be some variance between them in understanding how grace and good works work together. But, as far as I know, they all define grace as something that is unearned.

    We each have the right to name our own experiences, and these experiences may vary from one person to another. What I’ve always thought is that God will meet you wherever you are, and that the Holy Spirit, however you may imagine it, is actively at work within the world.

    Episcopal priest and writer Barbara Brown Taylor, who is Professor of Religion at Piedmont College, once began a Pentecost sermon titled “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit” with the reminder that the word conspire means to breathe together. I think that is what we are doing here together, breathing together, conspiring in our conversations and growing in compassion and wisdom and even knowledge.

    One of my favorite quotes from Barbara Brown Taylor is; “We’re children of God through our blood kinship with Christ. We’re also sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, with a hereditary craving for forbidden fruit salad.” I love this quote because is points us back to our own humanity, we need to do more to celebrate our humanity.

    I believe that we do this too in our conversations with one another; it’s an important conversation. I also believe that it is our imperfections that make perfect our compassion, and that whatever grace we may experience in this life, such grace is always grounded in the Divine.

    In one of her books, THE LUMINOUS WEB, when Barbara Brown Taylor looks at the universe, she concludes there is one overall reality with different interpretations of it. She also comes to see God not as an embodied person, but as the interconnection of everything. Here is a quote …

    “Where is God in this picture? God is all over the place. God is up there, down here, inside my skin and out. God is the web, the energy, the space, the light, not captured in them, but revealed in that singular, vast net of relationships that animates everything that is.”

    This sounds almost Buddhist in nature, or like Thich Nhat Hahn’s idea of Interbeing, understood as the essential interconnectedness of the universe, a universe that is constantly changing from one moment to the next.

    Even Jesus had a hard time describing the Holy Spirit, saying: “The Spirit blows where it chooses,and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” The Greek word for Holy Spirit is Paraclete, its meaning; as “one called alongside to help,” or as “one who appears in another’s behalf,” even as advocate, counselor or comforter.

    So, this morning when I was meditating and began thinking about the Holy Spirit in this role, praying with and through me, I got goose bumps or a quickening of the flesh. Which for me was simply an affirmation that God’s grace and Holy Spirit really are actively at work in the world, transforming us all. And there wasn’t anything that I did to deserve this grace, except to take some time out of my day to sit quietly and be with God, to make myself available to this mystery. Grace does abound.

    “Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and
    undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens
    our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.”

    I like this answer, exactly because it covers so much ground. It makes sense to me and my own faith.

    Peace,

    Ron

    • Ron Starbuck says:

      Apologies, it as Art who wrote: “Only in a quiet moment, perhaps, sitting in the morning can I begin to see reality within myself.”

    • Nick_A says:

      If a person becomes a concert pianist it could be wid that he didn’t earn the talent but rather it was a gift. At the same time, actualizing the talent is earned through practice.

      It is the same with grace IMO. Grace may be available but we have to earn the ability to receive it by becoming able to get out of our own way.

      Sometimes we get out of our own way by accident. A life crisis occurs where our established roles are no longer adequate. Then we are psychologically naked and grace can enter. A person can also be involved with a conscious practice that create an inner “void” where grace can enter. Some would say this person earned it.

      • artxulan says:

        Well said Nick.

      • Ron Starbuck says:

        Gentlemen,

        What you are describing is a payment earned, or coin for the ferryman, not a grace that is given. But, perhaps we can agree that it is a bit both in this case.

        Still, you can do all the right things, say all the right prayers and mantras you wish, sit for hours on a meditation cushion, stand on your head literal, jump high and do three somersaults in the air, and still miss the gift, precisely because you think it is something that must be earned. Yes, you can and may do all these things and think that it is earned. In the end the giver has to bestow the gift. Who is the giver in this case and when is the gift given? Inside or outside of time? In the eternal now?

        When grace comes, it is precisely that, a gift of grace and one that you must willing accept. Don’t we always have to accept the gifts given to us? And to say thank you in that process, prayer and meditation are type of thank you, a communion, a communication, an exchange. Grace itself is an exchange that is taking place between us an the Divine all the time. The very breath you breathe is a gift of grace. What have you done to earn such a gift?

        If you go back to the original Greek word for grace you will find the following.

        The word translated as grace is the Greek word Charis (Greek Χάρις), pronounced khar’-ece, or Charis – khä’-rēs.

        From Strong’s Concordance

        1) grace

        a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

        2) good will, loving-kindness, favor

        a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to (Christ) or back to God, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith or faith in God, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

        3) what is due to grace

        a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace

        b) the token or proof of grace, benefit

        1) a gift of grace

        2) benefit, bounty

        4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

        So, perhaps it is a bit of both, a reward of faith in something greater than ourselves. And a gift that is given, but also freely accepted, which is Paul Tillich’s point, to accept that we are accepted, to accept that God loves us that much. To accept the gift with grace, read his words again please.

        “Do we know what it means to be struck by grace? It does not mean that we suddenly believe that God exists, or that Jesus is the Saviour, or that the Bible contains the truth. To believe that something is, is almost contrary to the meaning of grace.

        Furthermore, grace does not mean simply that we are making progress in our moral self-control, in our fight against special faults, and in our relationships to men and to society. Moral progress may be a fruit of grace; but it is not grace itself, and it can even prevent us from receiving grace.

        For there is too often a graceless acceptance of Christian doctrines and a graceless battle against the structures of evil in our personalities. Such a graceless relation to God may lead us by necessity either to arrogance or to despair. It would be better to refuse God and the Christ and the Bible than to accept them without grace.

        For if we accept without grace, we do so in the state of separation, and can only succeed in deepening the separation. We cannot transform our lives, unless we allow them to be transformed by that stroke of grace.

        It happens; or it does not happen. And certainly it does not happen if we try to force it upon ourselves, just as it shall not happen so long as we think, in our self-complacency, that we have no need of it.

        Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness.

        It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life.

        It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged.

        It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us.

        It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage.

        Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know.

        Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything.

        Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!” If that happens to us, we experience grace after such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before.

        But everything is transformed. In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance.”

        In the light of this grace we perceive the power of grace in our relation to others and to ourselves. We experience the grace of being able to look frankly into the eyes of another, the miraculous grace of reunion of life with life.

        We experience the grace of understanding each other’s words. We understand not merely the literal meaning of the words, but also that which lies behind them, even when they are harsh or angry. For even then there is a longing to break through the walls of separation.

        We experience the grace of being able to accept the life of another, even if it be hostile and harmful to us, for, through grace, we know that it belongs to the same Ground to which we belong, and by which we have been accepted.

        We experience the grace which is able to overcome the tragic separation of the sexes, of the generations, of the nations, of the races, and even the utter strangeness between man and nature. Sometimes grace appears in all these separations to reunite us with those to whom we belong. For life belongs to life.

        And in the light of this grace we perceive the power of grace in our relation to ourselves. We experience moments in which we accept ourselves, because we feel that we have been accepted by that which is greater than we. If only more such moments were given to us!

        For it is such moments that make us love our life, that make us accept ourselves, not in our goodness and self- complacency, but in our certainty of the eternal meaning of our life. We cannot force ourselves to accept ourselves.

        We cannot compel anyone to accept himself. But sometimes it happens that we receive the power to say “yes” to ourselves, that peace enters into us and makes us whole, that self-hate and self-contempt disappear, and that our self is reunited with itself. Then we can say that grace has come upon us.”

        In Matthew 11:28 – Jesus says these word, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

        This too is a gift of grace.

        Peace,
        Ron

      • artxulan says:

        Ron Starbuck

        I was brought up as a boy in the bible belt of the south. Preachin every Sunday on the radio or in church. Grandpa was adamant that no work was to be done on Sunday or anything fun. Listenin to preachin was ok.

        It made me allergic to preachin forever. Nothin good comes of it.

  • Nick_A says:

    Hi Tracy

    It struck me reading this that I barely know how to begin to value this life. After all these years, I am still a sleeper agent! Even when I’ve had a piercing insight or moment of grace I go right back to sleep. I still mostly measure my life in terms of my needs and desires. How often do I remember to say “thank you!” for the pain and restlessness, the dark valleys and stretches of meaninglessness that gave way to light? This is natural, I suppose–we have many parts, Miss B! But what if instead of the usual list of resolutions I spent some time reflecting on what came unbidden, just when everything seemed to be going wrong? What if I accept the whole of my life, just as I am accepted by a force or intelligence greater than myself. What we call awakening or enlightenment is not separate from the movement or state of acceptance. To understand is to accept, and to accept is to truly love. Happy New Year.
    **********************

    When I read this I was also reading some material from the Simone Weil Movie Twitter site

    http://twitter.com/SimoneWeilMovie

    It seems that you are questioning “attitude” much like Julia Haslett was compelled to do through her documentary:

    Bio AN ENCOUNTER WITH SIMONE WEIL – a documentary film by Julia Haslett. What response does seeing human suffering demand of us?

    That is a good question. If we are sincere it is obvious something is wrong somewhere. Simone hit her psychologically like a ton of bricks so she was compelled to seriously question.

    Fanny Howe also in her long article begins with:

    Recognition
    by FANNY HOWE

    1.
    I have a friend, a Benedictine monk who has lived a hermetic way of life in California outside his community, for decades. It was not always so. He began his life in diplomacy and the foreign service.

    In 1945 he was the youngest Vice Consul in the country and was set to sail to Egypt on a boat out of New York.

    Before he boarded ship, he went to a second hand bookstore on the lower east side and browsed. In the process he casually pulled a book off a shelf; it was written by Simone Weil. He took the book away to a restaurant, ordered beef and sat in a paneled booth, examining her writing as if he had awakened from a sleep. He said, “What I read was the truth. And I knew that I must devote my life to that, or it would all be meaningless.”

    The substantial part of the story, as he explains, is its impossibility: no work of Weil’s had been translated into English then. The book was, as it were, a slip in time. It fell out of the future into his hands. He could never find it again. No scholar of her work has ever seen a piece of writing by her that could have landed in a New York bookstore that year.

    My friend, a realist and monastic, has asked and asked, attempting to explain the mystery. By now it has become an important part of his story, the story of his religious experience, his understanding of time and prophecy, mysticism and the daily life of the body in a world of objective fact.

    As it turns out, Mary McCarthy translated Weil’s great meditation on the Iliad and war in 1945, that same year. It was published in a periodical called “Politics” under an anagrammatic pseudonym, Emile Novis that Weil used to hide from the Nazis. This may be why it was so hard to locate. In some way the monk was right, even though he was wrong.

    This is typical Simone. She writes from brilliant experiential sincerity. A person can experience it as did the monk. Her “being” provides an awakening influence. She affects our “attitude” by getting under the surface.

    Listening to the Eleanor Bron and poet Grahame Davies discussion the life of Simone Weil on BBC’s “Great Lives” series, they were perplexed at how unusual it is for people to practice what they preach. How could she live her philosophy. It seems absurd. Did she have the wrong attitude to be so willing to do so, or do we need a change of attitude if we want to distinguish ourselves from the madness of the world that allows us to be content with fantasy and wonderful speeches?

    • artxulan says:

      It seems in the right direction to attempt to accept, to see reality as it is. I am reminded of Michel Conge’s assertion that the involutionary and evolutionary currents are not separate. The coarse, the dense is a part of the universe just as much as the fine, the higher. Maybe they are both there for me to learn, to grown to be transformed by.

      Maybe this is the blessing of being Human. A blessing the angels don’t have. We have within us both the sheep and the wolf and Gurdjieff tells us we must find away to care for both the sheep and the wolf.

      • Nick_A says:

        “And so, my dear Hassein, when it became clear that there had entirely disappeared from the psyche of your favorites the instinctive need for conscious labor and intentional suffering in order to take in and transmute in themselves the sacred substances abrustdonis and helkdonis—thus releasing the sacred askokin for the maintenance of the Universe—Great Nature was constrained to adapt herself and to extract this sacred substance by other means, one of them being precisely that periodic terrifying process of reciprocal destruction.
        **************************

        This is why I introduce Simone. She was drawn to being partkdolg duty. She participated in conscious efforts and intentional suffering without being taught. She was a throw back to something very ancient, perhaps even during the times of Atlantis.
        ********************

        “Do you remember, I already told you that the three-brained beings of the continent of Atlantis even considered this being-duty as sacred and called it ‘amarloos,’ which in their language meant ‘help for the Universe. ‘
        ********************

        Secularized religion, the New Agers and secular Interfaith prefer wonderful thoughts and science having thrown the baby our with the bathwater, will, as a whole, not consider the sublime logic of vertical objective reason.. As a result, only a relative few will be willing to get down and dirty. Simone got down and dirty. Her efforts and the questions she raises are a path leading to a greater appreciation of what Gurdjieff introduced into the West

        So I’ll be stirring the gravel and hopefully be a part of a re-awakening of attitude that I believe is esential for the survival of humanity as a whole.

  • Nick_A says:

    Ron, we normally give gifts to what we believe to be important to us. I believe we are exaggerating our importance. What difference does it make if we are chanting, praying or whatever if we are nothing?

    “Charity. To love human beings in so far as they are nothing. That is to love them as God does.” Simone Weil
    ****************************

    This is why I believe God’s grace is always there rather than an intended gift. If it is always there, the question for me is how to become open to it.

    • Ron Starbuck says:

      Nick

      Grace, and love, and life itself is also part of the call to holiness (wholeness) and how God’s Grace will make us whole, and help us enter into the fullness of our own humanity.

      I would agree that like the breath we breathe each moment, God’s Grace is always there, has always been there from the very beginning, it is an intimate part of creation.

      What is comes down for me, is that our whole life and all of creation is a gift. So, it is in a spirit of gratitude that I try to approach my own life and everyone in it, it is all a gift that we must take time to appreciate and be thankful for all through our life.

      Have a great Sunday, it’s been a great discussion.

      I’m LEMing today, and need to go get ready for church.

      Peace Everyone,

      Ron

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