Disposable Bobservations with an Eye on the Eternal
So, I’ll just keep applying my fingers to the keyboard, hoping for something to happen. If not, I’ll just close up shop early. Whatever. It’s Sunday. Shouldn’t be doing anything anyway.
Speaking of typing, if I have any obessive-compulsive readers out there, don’t be shy about informing me of embarassing typos. Although I’m a good speller--oddly, aside from PE it was probably the only “subject” I was good at in school--I’m a terrible typist. Plus, since my computer died a few months ago I’ve been using the lap top, which I can’t get used to. Totally different feel. Many atypigraphical 'orrors result.
The only bad thing about blogging is that I have to put things out there before they’re really ready. As I go through the day, not only do I correct little spelling or grammatical errors, but I tend to make more major changes in my posts, even though I doubt that anyone knows or cares. It’s weird. It’s like my aesthetic conscience won’t allow me to leave certain awkward, infelicitous, or unclear passages to stand. Why? What’s the point?
Perhaps because God can see them. In Europe, many of the cathedrals have gargoyles hidden on the roof that no one will ever see, unless you make a special point of it. I am told that the artisans of the middle ages were so serious about their work that these gargoyles are just as perfect as the visible ones. It’s not as if they stuck the flawed or chipped ones up there where no one could see them. These artisans consciously worked with their minds focussed on eternity, not within the field of time. Therefore, there was no point whatsoever in covering up mistakes and just getting by. They were not working in order to please others or even please themselves or Rick Nelson, but to please God. They were true karma yogis--the yoga of selfless work for the Divine.
Over the months, people have occasionally asked me for explicit advice about a spiritual practice. That is somewhat difficult to do, because it presumes tinkering at the margins of your life or simply adding something to it. But the truth of the matter is that, as I have mentioned before, you have to turn your entire life upside down and inside out. If you are serious about your quest--and even the seriousness of your search is not something you have full conscious control over--you have to change everything, not merely the “content” of your life, but the context. Like those medieval artisans, you begin living your life with a constant sense of the eternal in everything you do.
Again, a good part of this is apparently out of our conscious control. In some mysterious way, we do not choose God, but he chooses us. I would like to take the credit for turning out the way I have, but it was really more a matter of gradually removing layers of cultural, educational and familial accretions to reveal this very odd bird underneath. You don’t have to take astrology literally to understand that we all possess both a genetic and a celestial blue print, a vertical and a horizontal one. Our lives are woven out of the warp and weft of these horizontal and vertical influences as they create unique patterns in time.
This is why, by the way, even Jesus could say that “there is no one good but God,” for only God entirely transcends the horizontal (even though he is, at the same time, fully immanent within it). And it would also explain the inevitable blind spots of the most holy of holy men, whether Shankara, Saint Paul, Sri Aurobindo, or the Pope. Just the fact of being embodied means that your knowledge of anything is going to have some relativity mixed in with the absolute. One more good reason for stable scripture and dogma which is not subject to relativistic decay.
(Which reminds me--I saw a wonderful movie the other night, one I hadn’t seen since film school some 25 years ago, The Talk of the Town, starring Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and Jean Arthur and directed by George Stevens. It’s a very multifaceted work, but one of its central themes is the dialectic between the vertical, purely abstract rule of law, vs. embodied, flesh-and-blood human relations--between the Platonic and the Aristotelian, you might say. Wonderful film that works on many levels.)
Anyway, back to one’s spiritual practice. One is either serious about it or one is not. If you are serious about it and pursue it with all your mind and heart, then something eventually happens. You sort of “snap,” and there is a reversal of figure and ground. It’s somewhat like any other skill, like skiing. I remember the feeling of trying to ski, then suddenly effortlessly skiing. You fall into a sort of natural rhythm that effortlessly navigates over the contour of the mountain. You are a "born again" skier.
This goes to the question of how you find God. You don’t. Not really, any more than the scientist finds the world. Rather, you just learn how to look. Now it’s as if I can’t help looking for God in everything I write. It’s very automatic--it is the context of everything I think and write about. You might think that it’s repressive or restrictive, but it feels like the opposite--very expansive and liberating. I don’t know what I would do if I felt imprisoned within the walls of the merely horizontal. This is why we must be so grateful to those dedicated pneumanauts that preceded us and showed us the way out of the closed circle of mere animal, material existence.
For man was made for transcendence. He is the only animal who becomes less than himself if he doesn’t perpetually surpass himself, even though you never fully arrive at your deustination in this life.
Oh well, time to stop. Just when the spirit was starting to come online. Whatever you do, don’t let that happen to your life, for the night is coming when no man can work.
Or so we have heard from the wise. Not from just any old 9-5 Johnny or jnani-come-lately.