The Post Of Christmas Past: On Hearing the Light
Religious ideas have the fate of melodies, which, once set afloat in the world, are taken up by all sorts of instruments, some woefully coarse, feeble or out of tune, until people are in danger of crying out that the melody itself is detestable. --George Eliot
Hearing is the central theological act of perception..., certainly here on earth [where] we must strive above all not so much to see (which is too akin to taking possession of what is seen) as to hear (which is to submit to what has been heard).... The beauty of hearing sounds is that sounds always remain ever evanescent and therefore ungraspable, even as they communicate. --Edward Oakes
The central question of so-called "apologetics" or "fundamental theology" is the question of perceiving form -- an aesthetic problem.... Whoever is is not capable of seeing and "reading" the form will, by the same token, fail to perceive the content. Whoever is not illumined by the form will see no light in the content either. --Hans Urs von Balthasar
Science takes us from the unknown to the known. Religion, properly understood, takes us from the darkness of the known to the light of the greater unknown. Not just any unknown, but into the mysterious heart of unknowable being. Here, life is not a riddle to be solved, but a mystery to be savored and enjoyed. Nothing can actually eliminate this living mystery, but it is possible to pass one's days in the bright light of the merely known, and thereby forego a life of deeper unKnowing.
Some 1500 years ago, the revealed religion of Christianity reached western China and met up with what might be the greatest natural religion, Taoism. The following is adapted from a wonderful ode to the mystery of the universal light and logos, written by someone named Jingjing in 8th century China, who spontaneously merged Taoism and Christianity, undoubtedly because, like me, he was a multi-undisciplinarian who didn't know any better:
"In the beginning was the natural constant, the true stillness of the Origin, and the primordial void of the Most High. The Spirit of the void emerged as the Most High Lord, moving in mysterious ways to enlighten the holy ones. He is Ye Su, my True Lord of the Void, who embodies the three subtle and wondrous bodies, and who was condemned to the cross so that the people of the four directions might be saved....
"My Lord Ye Su, the one emanating in three subtle bodies, hid His true power, became a human, and came on behalf of the Lord of Heaven to preach the good teachings. A Virgin gave birth to the Sacred in a dwelling in the Western Empire. The message was given to the Persians, who saw and followed the bright light to offer Him gifts....
"These teachings can restore goodness to sincere believers, deliver those living within the boundaries of the eight territories, refine the dust and transform it into truth, reveal the gate of the three constants, lead us to life, and destroy death. The teachings of the Religion of Light are like the resplendent sun: they have the power to dissolve the dark realm and destroy evil forever.
"The Lord set afloat the raft of salvation and compassion so that we might use it to ascend to the palace of light and be united with Spirit.... He left twenty-seven books of scriptures to inspire our spirit, He revealed the workings of the Origin, and he gave us the method of purification by water. Thus we purify our hearts and return to the simple and natural Way of the truth. This truth cannot be named, but its power surpasses all expectations. When forced to give it a name, we call it the Religion of Light."
So even if you do it just once a year, take this day to be like Jingjing, do your verticalisthenics, and open your heart, your mind, and your life, to the Light, Love and Mystery of existence. You'd be surprised what you can learn by unKnowing.
If you can for awhile but cease from all your own thinking and willing, you shall hear the unspeakable words of God. -- Jakob Behme
The birth of the Word is death for the ego.... From the viewpoint of temporal flow, the end of our spiritual destiny is really an origin and spirituality is therefore a return to the beginning, a veritable re-ascent of time back to its non-temporal source. -- Jean Borella
Then came, at a predetermined moment, a moment in time
and of time,
A moment not out of time, but in time, in what we call history:
transecting, bisecting the world of time, a moment in time
but not like a moment of time,
A moment in time but time was made through that moment:
for without the meaning there is no time, and that moment
of time gave the meaning...
And when we have built an altar to the Invisible Light, we may
set thereon the little lights for which our bodily vision is made.
And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light.
O Light Invisible, we give Thee thanks for Thy great glory!. --T.S. Eliot
Guide us to that topmost height of mystic lore which surpasses light and more than surpasses knowledge, where the simple, absolute, and unchangeable mysteries of heavenly Truth lie hidden in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of of their darkness, and surcharging our blinded intellects with the utterly impalpable and invisible fairness of glories which exceed all beauty. --Dionysios the Areopagite
Return you soul to its upright position and extinguish all (me)mories, we're in for a promised landing. Touching down in shantitown, reset your chronescapes and preprayer for arrisall! --Petey the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Evasive
In my mind, I'm sailing with Ben:
What's below deck, in Ben's kitchen?
Mmmmm, dog food.
Perfect. I can see Santa, but he can't see me: