intelligence arises from
the spaciousness of nothingness,
knowing from a gap where nothing is known.
discovery arises from
absence, a totality,
* * *
A passionate mind is groping, seeking, breaking through, not accepting any tradition; it is not a decided mind, not a mind that has arrived, but it is a young mind that is ever arriving.
*Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti.
* * *
The explorer returned to his people,
who were eager to know about the
Amazon. But how could he ever put into
words the feelings that flooded his heart
when he saw the exotic flowers
and heard the night-sounds of the forest;
when he sensed the danger of wild
beasts or paddled his canoe over
He said, "Go and find out for yourselves."
To guide them
he drew up a map of the river.
They pounced upon the map. They framed it
in their town hall. They made
copies of it for themselves. And all who had a
copy considered themselves experts on the
river, for did they not know its every turn
and bend, how broad it was
and how deep, where the rapids were
and where the falls?
*Anthony de Mello. The Song of the Bird.
* * *
A friend recently ~ she and I from a like religious, and cultural, background ~ first met over 40 years ago at a little church in south Georgia, USA. We lived in adjoining counties, and she and her sister would visit my mom to be taught sewing. I was member of a small conservative Baptist church, she of a Holiness congregation. I was the young preacher. Now, her son is pastor of an independent conservative Christian church, her brother the same likewise.
We met again about a month ago. She spoke, in a recent conversation, of changes in my view of faith from then to now. She kindly assured me she was not being critical. She observed she found it amazing that such change could occur, something rare.
Ruminating on this talk afterward, one impression was "How the change?" One way of seeing this is in the word exploration. I have sensed being pulled into an exploration of truth, at first resisted, then gave myself to the exploration. I am not sure I have fully given myself to it, I am not sure anyone does. We humans have biases unseen. There is fear of fully being open to truth we might not recognize or, at least, want to admit to others or ourselves. Possibly, such exploration is a journey of opening, not a destination of full readiness to do so. Sometimes, our apparent change is no more than a shift from a close-minded for to a close-minded against, no true change at all, a rebellion of from one bias to a self-congratulated embrace of another bias.
* * *
Krishnamurti commented, in the quote opening this sharing, "A passionate mind is groping, seeking, breaking through, not accepting any tradition; it is not a decided mind, not a mind that has arrived, but it is a young mind that is ever arriving." So, there is a certain perpetual virginity about the exploring mind; that mind is ever-fresh, for ever-fresh open to learn. I would not agree that such a mind cannot accept a tradition. Yet, I would agree emotional attachment to a tradition discourages this exploration and this exploration would lead to a nonclinging to the tradition, even if one remains associated with it. Many think themselves out of a tradition, simply for they choose to think, when the tradition survives only on agreement. This is exactly why I have affirmed persons do not attend a church to learn the truth, though other motives are valid, truth is not the motive. This applies as well to a political party as to a religious group ~ virgin thinking is not welcome, the young mind is seen to be heretical and disrespectful to the "founders," the "fathers," the whatever who are considered deserving of unending, unthinking agreement and fervent devotion.
* * *
I came from a culture and tradition that discouraged, even condemned, freely exploring truth. I recall a class, in my fourth-grade, that would openly celebrate when one of my class members returned from the weekend Sunday worship confessing he or she had accepted Jesus as Savior ~ no thought given to children that might be of another faith or of no faith. The Bible was the only infallible, inspired written Word of God, word-for-word. Persons of dark color were inferior, some even said condemned to dark skin and ineptness as children of Cain. Catholics were going to a fire of hell ~ as were Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Hare Krishnas, agnostics, atheists, fornicators, drunks, ... well, anyone not a Christian according to the people I lived among. The holiness Christians who spoke in tongues were engaged, some said, in being inspired by the devil. And, of course, the United States was superior to all other nations and to be revered as being the righteous nation, even the nation called by God to replace the other first called by God ~ the Jews ~, whatever it did unrighteous. We were unquestionably to obey the government and our religion, a pair of omnipotents it seemed to my little self. This is not meant as a condemnation of my upbringing or those I still respect, but an insight into the world in which I lived. There were many positives of that environment, much I still cherish. And not all agreed with these biases, I am sure.
And our upbringings are fallible and, also, you and I. Pointing fingers, we point at ourselves. The most blind are those blind to their own blindness, so best to admit we are all unseeing to some extent, blind to our shadow side, what we turn our eyes from without even knowing or with knowing. The intellectual can be as prejudiced as anyone, the explorer of truth not seeing how he or she has narrowed truth down to what he or she is pleased to consider and not.
* * *
If one were to ask, "Well, how did you come to engage this exploration outside the walls of your upbringing? What made this possible, that you now speak of love beyond beliefs, when you were socialized to stay inside a clearly-defined system of conservative beliefs?" I have no answer. I could say "It just happened" or "I don't know" or "This is what God gave me" or "Love." Sometimes "why" is best dropped, and, so, an answer left unsaid. The most amazing things in life have no explanation, need no "why".
mystery answers mystery
unknown untouched remains
don't throw words into the Sky
let it remain its luminous self ~
simply receive, simply adore
* * *
In the reflections after the talk with the friend, two other things came to mind. The story above from Anthony de Mello. The summons to exploration is invitation to experience for oneself, and such exploration begins with some map of truth. If one does not have a beginning point, one has no where to move from. I have concern about parents who allow children to be educated by our educational system and culture, with its biases, and say things like, "I am not going to bring my child up in religion, so he can decide later that he believes?" Interesting, that parent allows the child to be soaked daily in belief, such as social media and movies and billboards ..., but thinks he or she is being intelligent by excluding a child from religion. I am not saying a child needs to be educated in religion, only that the scenario just presented reflects a bias against religion rather than simply concern for a child. As for me, I am thankful for the map my church tradition and culture gave me.
And this exploration does not mean rebellion against tradition or a plunge into a naive pluralism, or such nonsense as all tradition is bad or all religion is a lie. True intelligence guides one beyond such extremes to embrace the tension of apparent opposites.
* * *
My friend and I can meet in a space of kind disagreement. This, too, is a function of intelligence. That she and I differ is not a problem. We two are having our own individual journeys, and, at the same time, something not-individual appears in our sharing. Some would call this love. I do too. In this love, I find a quiet joy, sometimes laughter. I enjoy sharing and being together in individuality expressing within something more than either of us separately.
In fact, I think it a moral and spiritual danger to associate closely only with persons who agree with us. We need the mirror of those who disagree to examine our own thoughts, even our biases. We need difference to learn more about this love that joins us together beyond our separate sense-of-a-self into the whole we are in together already.
* * *
Last, exploration of truth leads us, finally, beyond the staid, frozen categories of "right" and "wrong," which appears often as "I am right, you are wrong." Intelligence, as whole-hearted engagement with life, is loving. In such intelligent loving, we experience what Susan Murphy speaks of, in her Upside-Down Zen: Finding the Marvelous in the Ordinary, "[W]hen you look deeply into yourself you will find that life and death, good and evil, all transect your human heart." So, exploration leads to the courage of humbleness, the integrity to see oneself as together in a mess we can only clean up together, and the mess is not simply in others, but in ourselves. And the not-mess is within us, as well, regardless of our personal history, what we have done or not done. Exploration of truth is from innocence to innocence, wholeness to wholeness.
*All material, unless another source is cited, is authored by the presenter of Lotus of Heart, Brian Kenneth Wilcox, Florida USA. Use of the material is permitted; Brian only requests that credit be given and to be notified at firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union, is available through major booksellers.
*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.
The Sacred in Me bows
to the Sacred in You