Weekend Sermon: Raids on the Wild Godhead
Nevertheless, one thing that really bothers me about our elite secular fundamentalists is that they seem to think it's easy to know God--as if it simply involves believing some nice fairy tale and leaving it at that. Well, for some people that is undoubtedly true. In yoga terms, this kind of simple faith is called "bhakti" yoga, and I don't mean to devalue it. I actually envy people who can have a simple faith in the Divine, and as a result, feel the constant presence of the One in their lives.
I'll bet that coal miner in West Virginia who was buried alive was such an individual. Facing death, he left us with those beautiful, haunting words:
I see them on the other side
It wasn't bad
I just went to sleep
I love you
It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep.
Such a simple declaration of unwavering faith, calm courage, and even elegant beauty in the face of the abrupt end of horizontal existence! I've memorized those words. They are worth thousands, even millions of pages of secular fundamentalist drivel. I hope I can remember them in my final moments:
It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep.
Anyway, getting back to the subject of our post, it isn't that easy for most of us callous sophisticates to know God. It takes real effort, commitment, and discipline to begin to reliably cure ourselves of the materialitis and reductionosis that pervade contemporary life. It is really a moment-by-moment project of reorienting ourselves and turning things upside down and inside out--back to the way they're supposed to be. When we do that, we can begin to experience the truth of the Upanishads--that the universe is like a tree with its roots aloft, its branches down here below. Me? I am the ecstatic sap.
In our embodied state, we struggle with overcoming our default orientation to the surface, to the "outside" of things. Both religious and non-religious fundamentalists are still unwavering materialists, living in deadening servitude to matter. Our higher faculties are easily hijacked and enslaved by the lower, and the problem is only worse in a society as abundant as ours, with so many seductive distractions everywhere. The "I" that is pulled this way and that by these tempting distractions cannot remain the same and know God. Rather, we must close one I and open another, or transpose the melody of our life to a higher key, an octave or two above.
Intellectuals struggle with this, for we do not comprehend religious truths; rather, they comprehend us. The intellect must be "raised up" to the realm from which religions emanate. Again, this is something the typical secularist utterly fails to understand. You must work to intensify your mental power and then transcend it, like building a very sturdy ship, and then launching it--two very different things.
For you cannot know religious truth. You cannot even really understand it. Rather, you must undergo it. Secular fundamentalists know all about religion. But you can be sure that they understand nothing of it, for, as Blake wrote, truth cannot be told so as to be understood and not believed.
To understand is to apprehend an intelligible truth. Secularists would have you believe that it is possible to deeply understand something that isn't true, which actually makes no sense at all. As one "undergoes" spirituality and understanding grows, we move from the line to the plane, from seeing to envisioning, from thinking about God to being comprehended by God, to where the interior horizon of the imploding universe flows within itself. The negation of negation!
Achieving this new depth of vision is not a matter of piling on additional surfaces, as the intellectual does. It is changing the nature of the knower, so that a new light-infused known may be captured from the Wild Godhead. In turn, this divine light further elevates the mind so that we may better see divine things, the uncreated world from which the created world is a reflection dimly perceived through mirror and enigma.
Is it really possible to speak from the Ground, where we are unborn again and can know the youth of eternal spring within our hearts? As Meister Eckhart said, these things "are false and absurd according to the imagination of opponents, but true according to true understanding."
True understanding is the death of the conventional self. But don't worry.
It isn't bad. You just go to sleep.
Then you wake up. And remember. And live.