*Brian Wilcox. 'relaxed'. Flickr
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A continuance of encounters 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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Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
'til it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
*Coleman Barks, Trans. Rumi: Selected Poems.
Said the sage...
Jesus speaks to us from the Gospel, "The Kingdom of the Heavens is like yeast a woman used in baking bread. Though she put in only a little yeast into the somewhat 50 to 60 pounds of flour, it permeated all the flour, and it expanded fully."
Seems he's speaking about how there's something working silently within, working without making a noise, but leading to growth spiritually.
Grace is, silently. Yes.
What's this grace?
Many speak of it as an attitude Spirit has toward us, hence we get what we do not deserve. This raises the matter of deserving or not, which is not applicable when speaking of grace. It assumes we do not deserve, so anything we are blessed with is of grace. This fails to see that we neither deserve nor do not deserve. Pure Love simply does not see in those terms. Others, the Greek Orthodox churches, have read grace as being the "divine energies," so expressing the Divine Nature. There, grace is not what would lead the Supreme to be good to us, it is the immediacy of the expression of the One as the Good, as Grace Itself. This is alike the Hindu and Buddhist speaking of Grace, of course, with Buddhism being nonthestic, Hindu theistic.
How do you understand it?
I do not, anyone who says he or she does is into deluded thinking. Whatever grace is, we can move on the premise that it is an expression of the Absolute as Being that is innately gracious, graceful, but not as a quality separate, simply that That is. This is why I often refer to Grace as the Supreme Itself. That of God cannot be seen as separate from God. If God expresses peace as peace, God is peace. See?
I see Grace in the analogy Jesus speaks as a way grace works, silent, evolutionary, and deceptively powerful, though appearing weak, insignificant.
Well said. I started our group sharing with that analogy, for it is a succinct, right-on spotlight of how spiritual evolution happens, both within you and within culture at-large. While you may have a sudden insight into your true nature, you cannot stay there, you have to grow to there. While the insight can happen in a moment, to grow into that takes, for most, a long time. Persons can have a spiritual experience like this, and they can misinterpret it for having arrived there. They just visited there. This is like buying clothes too big and having to grow into them. In fact, as I have said before, I do not believe we ever, not in this lifetime, fully grow into what Jesus refers to as the Kingdom of Heavens. The Kingdom of Heavens is not, in fact, necessarily a static thing, like an object in space and time, such as one can reach and say, "I got it." We cannot move from it, or to it. If we objectify this Kingdom, we would be making the same mistake as objectifying Nirvana, or the Pure Land, or Heaven, or even God. There is no where to experience this Kingdom, for it is not anywhere, meaning nowhere ~ where is a location, and this cannot be locatable. Even to say, as I sometimes do, this is everywhere, I speak in a spatial sense, from our experience of it; more truly, grace is not everywhere. We experience that of Spirit most directly through the deconstruction of the spatial and temporal landscape into which we have placed it. Then, we are plunged into it, for objectifying it ceases. See, it is for it is not in any there anymore. It is, not is here or is there. In a sense, it is set free within us, us within it. We enter its freedom, the freedom of Being, of just-is, of is.
Interesting, a little confusing this idea of being plunged into it.
The 'father' of phenomenology, Edmund Hurssel, said, "Philosophers ... are all too fond of offering criticism from on high instead of studying and understanding things from within." So, he is saying what I often say. Our path leads us to explore, to experiment within our 'subject-matter,' in intimacy with it, it becoming subject with us, rather than an object to us. We have to enter into an intersubjective relationship, I often say "communion," in which truth arises, that is, truth validates itself as true, itself as truth. We cannot so validate. Truth is what is already true, so no one can assign to it truth, as though truth is an object we can examine impartially, detached, and decide it is or is not. Truth most simply is, so if it does not appear, there truth is not, again, for truth is so ever-self-revealing itself.
Our sense of knowing what something is, itself has to dissolve, and our sense of placing the subject-matter into a framework of conception, that of time and space, for example, must be deconstructed for us to live in intimacy with Reality. Spirit deconstructs, so we can have wisdom, or direct insight of truth, and the truth as Being before all attributes assigned to Being, or Reality, or God, ... however you speak of this that is unspeakable. Possibly, a better way, however, than saying "plunged into," is we fall into, for we, too, fall out of the framework of time and space in becoming intersubjectively one with that Oneness not in time and space. And, then, we cannot well say that we know it. We might be able to say it is known in our mutual-self-knowing, our knowing truth and truth knowing us, as one knowing, but this introduces a duality that cannot be supported in the intersubjective union itself. Possibly, the best we can say, then, is "Truth is," or something like "Knowing happens." Yet, as is clear in what I have said, this Truth and the knowing are not separate events in unitive-subjectivity.
So, finally, we can't say how we know?
No. We cannot even say we know. Knowing is present, truth is present. In a way, we could say, as to God, for example, but with a duality that is a step outside oneness, "God knows God through my knowing God." If I say, "I know God," that introduces big problems, beginning with that little word we use, thinking we know what it denotes, "I." The only "I" that can know Spirit, is the one "I" that cannot denote anything outside Spirit Itself. That is, no subject or object apart from God as subject or object can know God, That known only in Pure Subjectivity. See, the more you go into the "I" you identify as yourself, the more you fall out of it, and you fall into Grace more deeply as this occurs. Yet, if you remain on the shore of conceptualization, clinging to the "I" knowing, then, you confirm the boundary between that "I" and Truth Itself.
So, can we know God?
No person can know God. The knowing of God can be reflected out of the knowing itself onto, in a sense, the person as object receiving that reflection, like off the pure Mirror ~ mirror being an image often used in Buddhism. Any sense that I, as person, know God is only a reflection of God-knowing-God, or God-as-knowing. I would say, then, Spirit mirrors Spirit onto the sense of person, while Spirit is the Mirror.
Yes, makes sense to me. Ha! Ha! Not meaning disrespect, just totally lost now to what I can know or not. So, where does that leave us, just in total ignorance? in nihilism?
We can relate verbally with these matters of Spirit only by analogy. This is why Jesus was often using the word "like," as above. There arises an intuition, an in-looking, or insight, an in-seeing, of the unspeakable, the unseeable, the unknowable. I compare the inability of Jesus to tell us what the Kingdom of Heavens, or Kingdom of God, is, to the inability of Buddhists to tell us what Nirvana is. I have read only maybe two Buddhists say what Nirvana is, only two, and they were wrong, for no one can say it. Everything of Spirit, though obvious, is mysterious, for Spirit is the Mystery. If I can tell you what grace is, it is not grace. If I can tell you what this Kingdom Jesus speaks of is, it is not that Kingdom. I cannot, in any way, tell you how Jesus understood these matters, even as I do not think he could tell you what he meant. He knew as insight, and that is never an objective knowing in space-and-time. So, he spoke in analogies, and he used images from his culture. Jesus refused to belittle truth by domesticating it, yet he drew from the everyday to point us to truth that we might taste it for ourselves. He let truth stand in itself as unknowable, always outside our grasp, simply for we cannot have it, though it already has us. All wisdom teachers do that.
So, we're just to trust this working of grace?
We trust it partly based on the witness of persons for eons. Too many have had an experience and termed it grace, for example, for us to ignore them. Actually, for example, atheist have to ignore a myriad witnesses, thinking they have all been deluded over the aeons, to assume their basic premise. What we do is not merely trust, we listen, then we apply the experiment, which is our path. So, the path is practical in that it puts to the test what has been postulated to be true. Yet, we have to begin with some faith, faith enough to trust, even if slightly, the testimony of others; on that foundation, we test that testimony. I never request anyone to believe what I say. I simply offer a testimony, and I offer an invitation to test it. What I say works, or it does not. If not, why would I want anyone to believe it? And as to telling anyone what the graces of Mystery are, I cannot even tell anyone who or what I am. So, I resonate with the same "Ha! Ha!"
The hiddenness implied in the analogy of the yeast speaks to me?
There seems a quietness to the contemplative way, the way of this grace, as you say, "graceful." I even feel quieter in following it, compared to before. I can often sense something working within me, too, doing a work, but it's often very subtle. I recognize it now, after engaging a spiritual path for a long time, before I didn't recognize it. The subtly of the work sometimes frustrates me, for I would like to know more about what's going on. I often feel like the bread rising and having no idea of why, but I'm thankful for the rising.
Yes, our spiritual path sensitizes us to see what was already present. That we begin being aware of it does not mean our spiritual path led to that to happen, it leads us to see the happening already happening led us to desire to awaken to it. Nothing new is seen when awakened to Truth, nothing new appears. As to grace, some traditions have referred to this as "prevenient grace," meaning, grace that leads to grace, or to recognition of grace, literally, "grace prior to grace."
Also, the hiddeness is part of the beauty of grace. Grace works while appearing to be shy, glad not to call attention to itself. Grace is humble, and we become humble through grace. Grace makes us more graceful, for Grace transforms us into Grace. Humbleness shows up in our lives in our becoming quieter, becoming more free of needing to impress others, to appear important. We become more content to work alone, to live alone if we must. Some may see us as avoidant, but we have become less needful of attention, of commendation, of recommendation. We trust grace is working through our being graceful, including silent. Yet, as in the analogy, we are not to mistaken this for weakness. The way we live, others may interpret that as weak. They may think we need to be more outgoing or more self-revealing or more sociable or more extroverted, more with-it, as some would say. We become more subtle, as grace is subtle, and this can be mistaken as weakness. Yet, one can show how powerful grace is by demonstrating the power in being glad to stand apart from the prevailing personality norms. No one can fit in a graceful being, for he or she does not fit in, he or she has no wish to fit in.
The beings who are truly quiet within, they are powerful, deceptively so in a world that associates power with noise, with talk, with needing and demanding to be heard and making sure one is being seen. The contemplative being works as yeast yeasts, quietly, but surely. We need more persons like this, who quietly go about, walking about with an aroma of peace, witnessing to the power of grace by a graceful life. If called to such a life, to an anonymous life, wise beings unheard, unseen as such, these beings embrace this in Love for the Beloved One.
*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.
*Quote of Edmund Hurssel from Shorter Works.