Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seeing clearly.

Trapped in the cave of vested views.
Macular degeneration is a condition that results in a loss of vision in the center of your eye, due to damage to the retina. Some vision remains peripherally but is mostly lost looking straight on. There’s a parallel to this physical condition that we know of as such things as bias, preconceived/fixed opinions, denial and unfounded belief systems. All of these latter conditions serve the function of filters blinding us to unfettered clarity; seeing things as they truly are and locking us into inflexible ideologies, opposed to and at odds with other similarly embedded ideologies. They are clouded windows through which we see and understand the world and ourselves. It’s like being in a cave with two openings: one looking outward and the other looking inward, both of which are clouded and contaminated, obscuring clear seeing. One gives us ideas concerning ourself and the other ideas concerning the world and both are obscured.

The obvious correction is to remove the barriers and see without filters of obscurity. In Buddhist thought, this unfettered perspective is called “suchness,” (Tathatā) and is of particular significance in Zen. Within Christian mysticism the term is “thusness” which means the same thing. Meister Eckhart used this expression to mean unattached oneness or unity. Such a view of unification, when intuitively experienced, removes the barriers and allows clear seeing.

One of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible is John 15:13 which looks like this in Greek: “μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ,” and is ordinarily translated as, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” I’m not employing Greek here to impress you but rather to prove a point. The two highlighted words convey very different meanings. To grasp the significance (as it relates to seeing clearly) it’s necessary to understand that in Koine Greek (the ancient language used to write the New Testament), three different words were used, all of which were translated into English as “life.” The three are “ψυχὴν” (soul or psyche: the root word of our present understanding of “psychology” or “psychiatry”); “ζοε” (pronounced Zoe [long A sound at the end] and meant the unified, ultimate source of everything); and “βιος,” the root word underscoring biology—our physical being.

The correct translation of John 15:13 would thus be: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his ‘ideas’ for his friends.” And why might this be an act of love? Simple: it’s impacted ideologies (dug-in bias) that separates us all from one another and drives us into camps of close mindedness: the very quality that’s presently at the heart and soul of the poles of opposition leading to political gridlock that paralyzes our current government (and the world) where compromise becomes an impossibility. 

Often times spirituality and contemporary living appear to be at odds. Nothing could be more incorrect. Seeing clearly is essential to human progress and at the present time we seem to be stuck in ruts of ideologies of unreconcilable opposition, believing all the while in the flawed principle of “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
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