Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Belief and Truth

It is said that faith is more powerful than reality. I believe that it is. If I were to believe that I must have air to breathe and thought there was none, in spite of its ubiquitous presence, I would die from the lack. If I were to believe that I must have water and thought there was none I would die of thirst from that lack as well. When our beliefs (any at all) over-ride reality we suffer the consequences, in spite of what is real and true. If we are free yet believe that were are not we might as well be in bondage.

Many subscribe to the belief that in order to be spiritual it is necessary to embrace certain traditions, make specific statements of faith and join with certain like-minded people as rites of passage to spiritual realms. The presumption here is that there is a formula which determines whether of not we are spiritual and acceptable to God. Perhaps the question is not how to be spiritual but rather, is it possible to NOT be spiritual at all. Believing that you are not spiritual (when you are) over-rides the reality in the same fashion that believing you need air when in the midst of air.

In The Song of Zazen, Hakuin Zenji said... “How sad that people ignore the near and search for truth afar: Like someone in the midst of water crying out in thirst; Like a child of a wealthy home wandering among the poor.” The story in the Bible about the Prodigal Son spoke the same truth.

Here is something to ponder—What is the spark which animates our being? Is it possible that we need look no further than the end of our noses to discover what is ever-present? And isn’t it likely that we are crying out for God while in the midst of Spirit?

Probably the greatest Christian mystic to ever live was Meister Eckhart. He said this regarding the chasm between ideas and reality. “Man’s last and highest parting occurs when for God’s sake he takes leave of god. St. Paul took leave of god for God’s sake and gave up all that he might get from god as well as all he might give—together with every idea of god. In parting with these he parted with god for God’s sake and God remained in him as God is in his own nature—not as he is conceived by anyone to be—nor yet as something yet to be achieved, but more as an is-ness, as God really is. Then he and God were a unit, that is pure unity. Thus one becomes that real person for whom there can be no suffering, any more than the divine essence can suffer.”

To experience the ubiquitous spiritual presence of God it is always necessary to get rid of the belief that God is absent and we must take action. God is transcendent but god is a distillation: Eckhart’s idea which must be cast aside. Such an idea is a distortion of reality and removes us from that which we seek to find.
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