Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Divine Potluck

I believe it was Alan Watts who characterized two basic camps in the field of philosophy as "partisans of prickle" and "partisans of goo"...that is, people who lean toward sharp definition and hard science, and those with a softer, more oceanic focus.

If I had to describe myself as a philosopher--which I'm not (in the traditional sense, anyway)--I would have to say this brain weighs in equally on the right and left, making me a romantic logician, or a practical mystic, or a creative realist, get the idea.

I don't know exactly why, but I have an impulse, a faint sense of urgency, which prods me to attempt to express the unsayable. Like most "starving artists", I put my stuff up for sale, but know without a doubt that this isn't about selling a product or even an idea. These "discoveries" are free and tailored exactly to the particular affections of the individual, whether they prefer active dissection of thought or warm bathing in metaphor. The universe speaks your language.

Does this universe have anything of significance to say? Oh, yeah. We all feel it somewhere, that sense of worthiness and purpose; that this isn't just a random soup in which we are the floating vegetables. There is something cooking, some recipe we contribute to, and some nourishing thing which is divine, like manna, served up with words of wisdom and encouragement. We bring the ingredients, compare seasonings and methods, and don't even mind doing the dishes because the company is so good and love the only point.

(Well--that was pretty gooey!)

To really "get it", taste it, or hear that voice of life clearly, though, we have to give up our partisanship altogether. Being bipartisan is a leap, like using the word "and" instead of "versus". Resolving conflict through the creation of entities that are "both" is often necessary in the land of metaphor.

In the spirit of the feast, this artist is hardly starving, but rich beyond compare with an overflowing cup of life. It's from this place that I write to you. I enjoy the care and feeding of the being--mine, yours, ours. I know that to make Divine Soup, we need sharp instruments of dissection as well as the warm simmer time. We need education and dialogue, pointing and listening and stuff to chew on; then comes digestion, assimilation and yes, elimination. Compost, you understand. Divine compost. :)

Why do I keep returning to that word, "divine"? Because the direct truth, reality, or absolute is sacred. Not in the standard, surface religious sense...more in the sense of sacrum, that triangular bone at the bottom of the spine, the posterior of the pelvis. A base of support and creation. The root of it all.

The verb "divine" means to seek, as well as to see or find by some method of divination, or "foresight". The adjective "divine", of course, means holy, or of the gods. It is interesting that to "find and see what is sacred", one must acknowledge the connection, the spine, running from the root to the inner eye. Embodiment is a natural and complete acknowledgement in itself.

Another fun word in this game is sacrifice, coming from the Latin sacer (holy, divine) + facere (to make or do). So to sacrifice is to "make holy". I would take that one step further and define sacrifice as an admission of the sacred, the origin, what already is.

We use the word "sacrifice" today almost exclusively in the sense of giving up something precious, usually to gain something that is perceived to be of higher value. Typically we sacrifice money or time or Ben and Jerry's (ouch), to get some kind of good feeling, or better health, or social acceptance. All well and necessary and natural. However, some of us desire to experience deeper layers of being and wider understanding. Some are hungry for more than the crust--and these folks are gluttons for punishment, I think...because it isn't too long before it is understood what kind of sacrifice is demanded by divinity.

Ultimate sacrifices are legendary, of course, running through the myths and tales and great holy works of every culture. We are content, for the most part, to leave all this hard labor to the heroes and icons, having a natural desire to avoid great loss, extreme persecution or even bodily harm. Life speaks to us, however, through our metaphors and stories--not only of vast psychological and emotional shifts, but of bottomless origin which is here, which is intended for exploration. There is always some sacrifice in the road, some thing which must be given, some offering made which involves the letting-go of something. Forever. Not as a bargain, not as a stopgap measure, not as a temporary salve.

The divine demands nothing less than the most ingrained, habituated, precious belief you hold. Yourself. That is, the begotten self, the symbolic self, the victimized or heroic self, the self in pursuit of truth, justice and so forth, the self which will change the world or who can't, the self who nobly sacrifices for the cause.

I did not say that Divinity demands that these causes and activities should cease or desist. I said the belief in--the idolization of--the selves who make and do these things is what is at stake. Nothing less than a handing-over of what you think you know, will do.

Divinity delights in storytelling, in words, language, symbol, drama. It could be said that It is the play in its entirety, from conception to finish. The author, the production, the characters and setting and dialogue. The point. The moral. The questions raised. Comedy, tragedy, the works and workings. To make any element of the play and process of being into a sort of "golden calf" is not against divine law; but it does have the natural consequence of "division" and a certain kind of loneliness and confusion. A dis-ease. It always feels better not to be lost in a story, to have one foot in something real and pure instead of planted in another pile of--golden elimination. :)

This real (non-sterile) clarity and openness is well-known and described in many ways: Emptiness, ground of being, void, all, the one-that-is-zero, creative space, source, etc., etc. Gooey people might call it flow or love or song. Structured people may think of it as silence, cessation of thinking, or alpha. Experiencing it may involve feelings like clearing, stopping, flying, grounding, contemplating, absenting, asking and receiving. Being aware during a series of these thoughts and feelings is often called "transformation"--moving from one form to another. What is this "thing" that does the moving? A decent metaphor might be "pure awareness", really, doing its shapeshifting dance.

To exist as this pure awareness is like having a most intimate relationship with "God", or the Clarity of Many Names, or the Ideal Growing Medium. A person can "unfold" or "enfold" divinity to the point that, well, he or she is divine. There is no difference between God and anyone, between the divine and its process; to say anything about it, though, is to step into the stream of creation, so to speak, rather than being its potential.

I realized somewhere along the way that truly effective problem-solving only happens at that empty point before becoming the stream of the world. Authentic creation takes place where I am "zero", before I am some thing. If I use an existing thing, a self, as the crux of solution, healing, or understanding, it sounds and feels a bit like an echo in a hollowness. I am bouncing off walls of some kind. I am perpetuating a problem by identifying with it.

But to be at that point of all possibility requires that I sacrifice myself--clear the board of all script, notions and characters. I have to approach truth with no protection and positively no sneaky ideas of righteousness. I must become no thing at all. And if I carry emotion, it is necessary to release, release and release until I am undone, and quiet. When I've dropped it all, I see the connection, become the spine, and clearly hear, see or feel whatever is given. It may be the next step in the story, the perfect resolution to something, the launch of healing, or the vision of some piece of art.

The hardest part of this sacrifice is the realization--over and over again--that I am one hundred percent responsible to and for everything in this life. If it shows up in my life, it is of me. I did it, and I did it to myself. I am this; I am all of this. And furthermore, I know nothing about it. I know it, but knowledge about things is transitory.

Mind is a metaphor for "divine intelligence", which is thoroughly knowing things as they are, before language. That is to say, knowing myself as I am, undivided. Even the bad stuff, the terrible nightmares. Admitting this aspect is immediate compassion, humility and non-judgement. This isn't a moral standpoint; it's simple common sense that an original painting, a clear word be sourced in and upon a clean medium of expression. Pretending that some things in my awareness are "not me" may be useful for life experienced on the surface, in the play, before the feast; but when it comes down to truth, I am accountable for every iota of what appears in my world.

This is my dream, you see; I am the dreamer. I prefer lucidity, even if it is occasionally painful, even if I suffer a burn in my own kitchen.

How does this all play out?
Next post.

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