*Brian Wilcox. 'a natural holiness'. Flickr
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A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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I cannot accept people’s versions and visions of themselves ~ they are simply not true! For this reason, I am able to serve humanity. I know every single being because I know the state of the one who dwells inside to be perfect and holy. I see only the Self; but when people speak, something else emerges.
Mooji. Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space.
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Spoke the sage...
if some where is not holy
no where is holy
if some one is not holy
no one is holy
if there were not the Holy
how could there be holiness
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"To be holy" means "to be set apart." Holy can be seen as Wholly, or Whole. In some cultures ancient, only whole, that is unimpaired, animals could be used in sacrifice. Only that whole could be fit for an offering to the Whole. Often in the Christian scriptures, we read of Jesus being the means of healing, literally, however, the person being made whole. As some modern renditions that speak more of healing or curing, these do not capture the essence of the language. So, they were made whole, or holy, in the ancient sense. Our essence is whole, we come into this world and become fragmented, full of stories rather than full of the knowledge of Truth. We undergo a restoration to wholeness, even though the original wholeness cannot be touched by the fractured, fragmented person. Wholeness can only arise from Wholeness.
Yet, also, holiness entails a setting apart that pertains to an energy-quality. Likely, we have all entered a space where we felt this quality. Some of you may sense this in a space you have set aside for your worship and meditation, some experience it outside in the wood, some at a sanctuary or church or other building. There, the holiness-of-you meets the holiness-of-the-space. So, the "setting apart" is from the realm of the un-holy, or profane, to that of the holy, or sacred. Some places may feel unholy, where you sense an absence of holiness, not merely neutrality. I once visited, when a youth and with my mother, a large tent revival in my hometown. A preacher, well-known as an evangelist, was leading it. Large crowds would gather under this huge tent. When we showed up, we sat down. Immediately, I could sense this was not a good place to be. I just knew it, within. I knew I was not to remain. I told my mother, we walked out. So, we could say, there are holy places and persons, and neither, and persons and places you can feel the unholiness as a negative, anti-life energy-quality.
In all my years working in corrections as a chaplain, I felt this negative anti-holiness only, as I recall, four times. One, interestingly, was a so-called Christian supremacist. I felt the sense of evil, or death, when in his presence, while I had to serve him as his chaplain. Only by maturity and grace was I able to serve him, without it intruding. That experience taught me more closely what hate in the name of God can do to a human being, robbing one of basic humanness. How sad, like living death. When I recall this man, I feel sadness, I feel hurt. Hate like that is deadly, it lingers, you cannot forget it after being in its presence. I would call that hatefulness anti-holiness, so evil. That has a real disturbing quality of energy, you can feel it, you want away from it as soon as possible. That does not mean the person is evil or even means to be hateful, rather the hate is evil, is anti-holy, is an absence of good. And likely that young man had gone through a lot of undeserved suffering that hurt him profoundly, to lead him to seek refuge in such antimony toward whole races of people. As Jesus said on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Part of the challenge of evil is that often it is unconscious, that is, harmful without persons knowing they are being harmful or harmful thinking the harm is justified by an apparent greater good to be accomplished. In our natural state, we are drawn to holiness, away from the sense of its opposite, one is a fullness, the other an absence. So, even though we are getting a little too far maybe from our topic of sharing, anytime you feel a pure absence, like a void of nothingness, that is a sign. Goodness is not absence, but presence.
How does one know this that you call "energy-quality"?
Only in encounter, like all experience. I cannot really tell you what holiness is. You have to meet it. Then, you know you cannot tell anyone either. This, as with love. The more subtle the energy-quality, the more problematic it is to speak of it to others. Again, also, one knows it more by knowing its absence. I know the presence of love more clearly, for I have met its absence. I recognize holiness as holiness, partly for I have known how the lack of it feels to the body. We, likewise, know in degrees. We may meet someone and know he or she is very holy, we can feel it that strongly, and meet someone else, and conclude he or she is not as holy as another person. We are not being judgmental, only receiving the felt-sense. Yet, in this one can be mistaken, as how we feel any day or how we are in regard to living a holy life may shape how receptive we are to sense holiness. Some persons, who may be good basically as to character, for example, might not sense the holiness of a place, if it were the most vibrantly holy place on Earth. Still, a general principle is when we are living a holy life, communing with holiness, this sharpens discernment of its presence, as well as clarity of its presence. I almost said "intensity," yet, as one is drawn more deeply into fellowship with Grace, the sense of the holy becomes more subtle, less intense, but more apparent, more clear, in a sense, more intimate.
So, holiness isn't a matter of character, like being a good person, but of energy?
One cannot live a holy life without a life of goodness, yet, holiness is not equal to such goodness, and goodness does not mean one will be a holy being. Holiness is more about a conscious relationship, a devotion, a yielding of self into, the Holy, as persons understand that differently. So, you cannot be holy and not-good, but you can be good and not-holy. The Bhagavad Gita mentions this being absorbed in, mixing with, merging with the Supreme. When you fall into Grace, you become Grace, yet you are still, and always will be, you. In the embodied state, the "you" will always be, always. You take upon yourself, by Grace, the holy; you become holy by association with the holy, and the Holy One. You can be a total materialist and be good, not so with holiness, for holiness is from before matter, cannot be reduced to it. Holiness, see, is a depth-quality, not surface-quality, so, I use "energy" only as a pointer. Energy pertains to the nature of matter, and that is surface, the domain especially of physics. I am not comfortable with claiming holiness is merely matter. Science, at best, explores the surface, and while there is sometimes an energy quality to holiness, sometimes powerful, that is the experience of holiness, or the Holy. There can be a huge divide between the experience of and what is the source of the experience; we need to beware confusing such, or we end up with silly sayings, such as I have heard, "God is energy." Sounds super post-post-modern, and new-age well-spoken, but, no, God is God, energy is energy.
What about our True Self?
The One Self in all beings cannot not be holy. This is even before any idea of holy or unholy. In the return of the self to the Self, holiness becomes in time and space, in body. This is good. Holiness, in a sense, discovers itself. So, the white supremacist spoken of above, I know and feel he, in essence, is not hateful, evil, or unholy. He was not born a white supremacist, for he essentially cannot be one anyway. We are born in our native innocence, socialized into hate. I know this purity within him, the Self, for the spirit-within informs me in Love, reveals this. From this, I love him, I feel the pain of the hate. So, how can I not see this, trust this as truth, despite all appearances? I could not see this then, now I do. I was before fooled by appearance, I saw him as person, not the Self-behind-appearances. So, white supremacist is a version, and a sad one. It is an adulteration of innocence, yet, innocence remains untouched, for innocence can only be innocence; godly cannot become ungodly. The person does not have the right or power to undo the truth, even if he or she ignores it and betrays it. When you see persons who are infatuated with unholiness, if you are living a holy life, it will touch your heart deeply, not with judgment, but compassion. You will not want to be judgmental toward him or her, but for him or her to awaken to the one Self within, as all. You will want that one to know the Beloved that lives in his or her heart, as in your heart, and the love you know and feel for all beings flowing from that sweet, blissful, peaceful communion.
But is this idea of holy not treating some things as special and others not?
If you are in a romantic relationship with someone, is that person not special to you. Specialness is part of oneness, for oneness-manifesting is not sameness. Oneness is manifesting in the specialness your lover is to you. Absolutely, we can say nothing is special, but in-manifestation this is a denial of the diversity Life becomes. Special, being relative, is still special. In-God all is equal, in-experience not all is equal. I enjoy chocolate candy, but I would not say that special enjoyment is of the degree of specialness I feel when sharing heart-with-heart communion with a dear friend. What is, in manifestation, is in degrees. Persons who deny this, they are living in some fantasy. Oneness is not blandness. What many Buddhists call OneTaste is not SameTaste.
How does God fit into this?
Of course, God does not fit into anything or anywhere, all fits into God. Yet, what you refer to as God is the Totally Holy, the Fount of Holiness. Yet, the Christian Scripture has God saying, "Be holy, for I am holy." In the monotheistic faiths, the Divine is the Totally Other, or Total Otherness, and all holiness is given by God, or flows from the Godhead.
What's this Godhead?
God beyond God.
Mystics, like Meister Eckhart, recognized God beyond God, meaning God beyond the idea of God, even the idea, or teaching, of the Trinity. So, Eckhart taught that the Trinity, in Christian doctrine, is subsequent, in our sense of time, to God as Being. We could say that the Three is an image of the imageless One. He fathomed that One precedes Three; so, the unity of the Trinity ~ Father, Son, Spirit ~ rests on the One. So, there are not three gods, only One God with three Qualities. One can become many, but One can only be One. Hinduism has this same teaching, with different words. Some Hindus refer to Brahman as the Absolute, but add nirguna Brahman and saguna Brahman, that is, God without qualities, God with qualities. In one God is simply God, in another we can say God is Love, Grace, Beauty, Goodness, ... Islam stresses this One, calling it "God" or "the God," so, "Allah." This One is experienced as Otherness. The profound reverence given Allah in Islam is a hallmark of this sense of Total Otherness. Buddhists speak of Dharmakaya, the unmanifest Buddha Body, or Quality, or Being. So, these major traditions hint at Reality being ultimately beyond all qualities in Itself, all manifestations. This, also, Judaism does in the teaching of God as the Ayin, the Unmanifest. See, the Holy expresses as holiness, but is Itself before, so the Fount of Truth. Truth refers to that in agreement, as expressed, with the nature of the Divine One.
Yet, this seems to create a duality. I mean as to holy being a quality set off to itself.
The mind, in formulating ideas, will always revert to duality, it has no other route. This does not mean what is thought is wrong, only that it is true within the bounds of polarity in which it is set. It is true in its context, within its limitations, placing the boundless in bounds of language. Truth is only known in Silence, when one rests in ineffable Grace, in the eloquence of the Heart. This is what Eckhart means by Godhead. Yet, this Otherness is in Quality, not distance. This Otherness is, also, totally here.
So, some things are holy, some not?
We take a step back from language. There, all is holy. If a second comes from a first, and the first is holy, the second must share in the same holiness, even if the second is not aware of this. God is reflected to varying degrees in all things, and, also, the degree of perception and experience is shaped by receptivity. That is, some are more sensitized to see and feel holiness. See, all is holy for being the outflow of the Holy, and as we are drawn closer into the Holy, we are progressively sensitized to holiness. A person engrossed in materialism, for example, cannot just show up to a Sunday morning worship meeting at a church and be aware of holiness, like turning on a light switch. This is why so much so-called religion becomes un-holy, it disconnects from the Holy. All life must be devoted to holiness as the expression of the Source, the Holy. That is our path. That is true religion. Also, if you remove the Holy, as in materialistic reductionism or secular humanism, you have a flatland of meaninglessness, of just stuff seen or unseeen, here by chance and gone by chance, all floating like flotsam on the surface ~ no depth. This is the state of much of the so-called advanced cultures, so its religion and spirituality.
I read a book, by a Zen Buddhist, entitled, Nothing Holy about It, the contention being for all is one. So, could we not say that? What do you think of that?
You can say that, yes. That is a negation. If you want to live in a world with no sense of holiness, no depths of sacredness, no specialness of grace, feel free to think that and see how it works for you. That is flatland, you can hug close the flatness of it, and you will get flatness. Anyway, a catchy title, indeed, and I do not see as what Zen teaches. Yet, the intent of the author, I cannot judge. Again, Oneness includes, does not exclude, and that includes holiness. When the Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Bible, the Koran, the writings of a Rumi or Hafiz or Hakuin or Dogen or Gibran or Lao Tzu become equal with a fashion magazine, we are in big trouble. When a Dalai Lama is equal with a movie star grossing millions yearly and having several mansions, where are we? When Jesus has no status beyond your dear, faithful plummer, well, well, well... how sad. We dishonor the truly holy by minimizing it and making it commonplace. The common can become holy, but holiness is not common and not in itself the common. Diversification is the nature of the One, and holiness is true to that diversification, for holiness is the principal means of experiencing in this body the formless Spirit. All qualities of Goodness, are holy.
Do you have moments of feeling holiness? If so, how do you respond?
Different ways, no set way: tears, laughter, silence, bowing, prayer, gratitude, love, ... Mostly, I sense life, being of Life, is holy. It is, now, more like a quiet, uneventful friendship, in which I do not wait for holiness to be felt in a pronounced way. I no longer desire spiritual fireworks. Now, it is more like many relationships that settle, with time, into a quiet, appreciative recognition, no longer feeling the need for dramatic moments. So, when I do get that more dramatic kind of visit, I am thankful, but mostly the sense is a silent recognition of holiness being present in the ordinary, as the ordinary.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Kuan Yin ~ Bodhisattva of Compassion'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.
*Book reference is to Tim Burkett. Nothing Holy about It: The Zen of Being Just Who You Are.