Kahlil Gibran


If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)

It is precisely the challenge involved

in using inadequate words

that drives the mind

beyond all words…

At the borders of speech

we open ourselves

to the positive value of silence….

Literary reading,

through its complexity, its music,

its suggestiveness, points to a fuller realm of being.

–Edward k Kaplan (citing Abraham Joshua Heschel)

God, the word evokes such a lot. In Buddhism however we find that God is as you say, transcendant, but if we dig deeper God is also immanent.

We see this clearly in:

1

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

…………………

This is the ineffible, unknowable reality above reality, beyond reality, something outside of words, outside of concepts…

This is the “God” of the Kabbalist, (Ain Sof: endless light)
This is the God of the mystic (christian and otherwise) such as Meister Eckhart

“To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God.”

The Kabbalist (Jewish Mystic, for sake of argument) states ideas such as:

The Nature of God

(from “God is a Verb” by David A. Cooper)

 

“What is God? In a way, there is no God. Our perception of God usually leads to a misunderstanding that seriously undermines our spiritual development.
God is not wht we think It is. God is not a thing, a being, a noun. It does not exist, as existence is defined, for It takes up0 no space and is not bound by time. Jewish mystics often refer to It as Ein Sof, which means Endlessness.

 

Ein Sof should never be conceptualized in any way. It should not be called Creator, Almighty, Father, Mother, Infinite, the One, Brahma, Buddhamind, Allah, Adonay, Elohim, El, or Shaddai, and It should never, never be called He. It is none of these names, and It has no gender.

 

When we call It God, what are we talking about? If we say that It is compassionate, full of lovingkindness, the source of love, we may be talking about our image of what we think the divine nature ought to be, but we are not talking about Ein Sof. In the same way, if we say that the God portrayed in the Bible is vindictive, jealous, angry, cruel, uncaring, or punitive, we cannot be referring to Ein Sof. Ein Sof includes every attribute but cannot be definite by any of them individually or all of them combined…..

 

The idea of Ein Sof was first described by the twelfth-century Kabbalist, Isaac the Blind. He taught that Ein Sof precedes thought (machshavah), and it even precedes the Nothingness (ayin) out of which thought is born. Nothingness is viewed as a level of awareness that is the result of the ‘annihilation of thought.’

 

The idea of the annihilation of thought, of course, is paradoxical. Can we imagine a void without beginning or end? Can we, limited by minds that are finite, imagine infinity? The answer is no, we cannot think of Nothing. Anything that we can imagine has some kind of boundary—Kabbalists call it garment or vessel—and boundaries are containers. All thoughts, including all imagination, are garments or vessels.

 

By definition, a boundary sets limits. We may be able to put a name to infinity, we can draw a symbol of a figure eight on its side and say that this represents infinity, but no matter how much we may believe that our imagination is limitless, we remain confined by the boundaries of our own reality. If it can be imagined, it is not infinite.

 

As infinity is beyond the imagination, what about that which transcends infinity—that which created it? Ein Sof is not ‘restricted’ by infinity. Indeed, we have suddenly run out of words because the idea of ‘trans-infinite’ is a logical absurdity. What can go beyond infinity? Moreover, what can go beyond the Nothingness that surrounds infinity? This is Ein Sof.

 

Although we are informed that Ein Sof is inaccessible through any intellectual endeavor, we may still ask if there is a ‘knowing’ that surpasses the intellect. Did Isaac the Blind have access to a level of awareness through which he could sense, somehow, the imperceivable?

 

The answer is yes. Jewish mysticism teaches that we can know Ein Sof in ways that transcend thought. This aspect of developing a relationship with Endlessness, the source of creation, is the key to all Kabbalah and the lifeblood of all Jewish practice. The secret teaching in developing this relationship with the Unknowable is hidden in the mystical foundation of the nature of relationship itself.

 

The word ‘God,’ and each of Its various names in Judaism, such as El, Elohim, Adonoy, Shaddai, and so forth, represent aspects of Ein Sof. The exploration of these aspects gives us insight into the nature of Ein Sof . Thus, whenever God is discussed…..we are not talking about a thing in itself, but a representation of a far deeper mystery…..

 

We can relate to God as an interactive verb. It is God-ing…..Many names of God are included in Ein Sof; God-ing is one name—a name that happens to be a verb rather than a noun…..What would we be without the awesomeness of the unknowable God?
There is no answer to this question; we cannot prove anything about Ein Sof. Rahter, it is a self-reflecting inquiry. Yet when viewed from the perspective of our dynamic relationship with the Divine, it is a self-fulfilling question, for paradoxically the source of the question is the answer it seeks. ‘What would I be without God?’
Consider this question from your inner awareness. Not you the noun, the person you may think you are, but you the verb, the process of being in full relationship, continuously, with its creator. When a question arises wthin you, who is asking the question, and to whom is the question addressed? Assume that there is no ‘me’ to ask the question, and there is no God out there to answer it. The question is part of the process of David-ing and God-ing in a mutual unfolding.

 

Try to do this in a way that melts all barriers or separation. No subject and no obuect. Simply an ever-opening process. No past, no future; only the Now. Each moment is a fresh opening. Each breath we draw, each move we make, is only Now. This is my dance with God-ing. It is an awesome experience…..

 

Perhaps you will take a few moments to close your eyes and allow yourself to sink into this idea. Meditate on this thought: The teaching of the mystery of Ein Sof is that the center of our being, out of which awe arises, is that about which we are awed. It is It! When we contemplate our continuous process of opening, right here, right now, we realize that God-ing is always with us…..

 

The Unknowable can be discerned. Beginning at an indefinable point as sharp as a needle. It radiates in various ways which can be perceived—only in the context of process and interaction. We are not an audience watching the God-ing process onstage. We are onstage, ourselves. We mysteriously begin to get a glimmer of God-ing when we succeed in merging with the continuous process of unfolding creation…..

 

The intrinsic definition of Limitlessness is that It lacks nothing and can receive nothing, for It is everything. As It is everything, theoretically It is the potential to be an infinite source of giving.

 

The question arises, however, that there is nothing for It to give to because It is everything. It would have to give to Itself. This has been a major conundrum in philosophy and theology for thousands of years.

 

Kabbalah suggests one way of dealing with this issue. It says that as long as the infinite source of giving has no ‘will’ to give, nothing happens. However, the instant It has the will to give, this will initiates a ‘thought.’ Kabbalah says, ‘Will, which is [primordial] thought, is the beginning of all things, and the expression [of this thought] is the completion.’

 

That is, the entire creation is nothing more than a thought in the ‘mind’ of Ein Sof, so to speak. Another way to express this idea is that the will to give instantly creates a will to receive…..”

ain

Here we can see that God is NOT God

If we return to Buddhism the Heart Sutra states:

Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.

The other four aspects of human existence —
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness —
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases. So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.

There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.

There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now. +

All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.
The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.

………..
Here we see the Heart Sutra telling us that God is transcendent and immanent, that God is not God

If we return to christianity again:

Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’

-John 6:12

“But if by “God“ we mean a reality far surpassing our own fullness of being we must envisage the divine as total realization, abundance of life and actuality, energy unfailing, of which our mode of being is a pale reflection, and at best a symbol. Yet people persist in asking whether or not God exists. As Dostoyevsky pointed out, their question never finds an answer, because it is wrongly put. Its proper context is the experience of active loving, but it is confined within the narrow limits of a notion of existence which is as irrelevant to life as it is unreal and reductionist. The concept of God as a remote entity which does nothing served as a postulate for some philosophers of the eighteenth century, but it is foreign to all the great religious traditions of humankind. For these the question-and it is a burning question-is not of God‘s existence but of his presence, and this implies his power or energy. Yet even today deism is not dead. The reductionist notion of God, which was formerly the preserve of academics, is uncritically accepted by ordinary people in our society, who on the whole do not reject belief that God exists but have little sense of the divine presence and of communion with him. This reductionist point of view is in direct opposition to the religious instinct and mystical impulse, which suffers widespread atrophy in our times.
In spite of all this, the human heart senses that “God” is not a mono­syllabic blob but the Ever-present One. How are we to understand, and live, this sense? Christianity is sometimes seen as nothing but a collec­tion of moral duties and soothing reassurances about salvation, rather than as a summons to the deification of the human person.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria, a pillar of orthodoxy during the fourth century, insisted upon the divine being’s exuberance. The divine being, ineffably more alive that we are, cannot be self-contained and barren but has to be Father, forever bringing forth his son from the womb of his own substance. This continual begetting is a movement of being which is essentially fruitful. Our human experience of parenting is only an analogy for the perfect generation in the divine being, where there is no before and after, no differentiation into male and female, and where the one brought forth is not inferior to the parent. This vision of God continually pouring forth his very being would inspire Meister Eckhart a millennium later to speak of God in terms of molten metal which is always boiling over. The son‘s coming forth from the Father is a non-stop act of both begetting and giving birth.
Thus for the Christian tradition the divine reality is essentially per­sonal. The three are not merely aspects of some impersonal substrate, nor are they separate individuals. The doctrine of the Trinity states that ultimate reality is a communion of persons, each dwelling in the others. Here relationship is of the essence. And this communion of persons is the truth and exemplar of all being. In particular it is the hope to which we human beings aspire. We come alive when our eyes meet those of the one who loves us, for we then find our center outside ourselves in the other, and in so doing we touch the mystery of transcendence.

By falling in love we leave behind our own isolation and break away from our old, limited way of life, which is now revealed as loneliness and incompletion. And, even more, in the unromantic daily struggle of active loving, in relationship, we find out who we really are. That is the context in which we can ask about God for it is then that we most resemble God. The Trinity goes beyond both solitude and the mutual opposition of Dual­ism, for God, as St. John says, is love.”

–father symeon burholt

….

And finally we get a clear idea if we turn to Gnosticism, and the Gospel of Philip (note that of course many Gnostics were highly influenced by Buddhism, in fact one branch even boasts that their leader was the reincarnation of Lao Tzu)

Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.

Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word “God” does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with “the Father” and “the Son” and “the Holy Spirit” and “life” and “light” and “resurrection” and “the Church (Ekklesia)” and all the rest – people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in the world […] deceive. If they were in the Aeon (eternal realm), they would at no time be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in the Aeon.

One single name is not uttered in the world, the name which the Father gave to the Son; it is the name above all things: the name of the Father. For the Son would not become Father unless he wore the name of the Father. Those who have this name know it, but they do not speak it. But those who do not have it do not know it.

We see things as we are
Not as they are

–Kahlil Gibran

There are no mundane things outside of Buddhism,
and there is no Buddhism outside of mundane things.

–Yuan-Wu

It is I who am you, and it is you who are me. And wherever you are, I am there.

And I am sown in all; and you collect me from wherever you wish.

And when you collect me, it is your own self that you collect.

–Attributed to Christ, found in the Gospel of Eve

Who is the giver?

What is given, and to whom?

and the receiver, who is that?

and what is gotten?

 

Who is the teacher?

What is taught, and to whom?

Who is the knower of That?

and what is known?

 

Upon knowing, upon realization

what will that one say?

or having said that –

of what value is it?

 

What can that one hope to gain –

What does that one have to give?

Is there any value in what such a one

would offer us?

 

What has been gained?

What great jewel has that one found?

Of what use is his tapasya?

Of what use his penance?

 

At the end, in the desire to give

in the hope that what will be given

be of value and worth, lies a quandry.

 

The evidence of the value of what would be given,

does not yet shine in the life of that one having arrived.

There is no evidence, “but the giving itself.”

 

After the giving, after the sowing

the crop bares fruit, not otherwise.

Yet the Sadhu would give only what has value.

But who is the knower of that value?

 

To the one desiring to give

arises the desire that what would be given,

be of value to the receiver.

That one desiring so, cannot see the worth

until after the fruit is eaten.

 

The taste of truth is not given by the giver

nor does it exist in the sweet words uttered;

“That” lies only in the arising of love

in the receiver.

 

Giving belongs to God, to the consciousness,

never to the Sadhu.

and it is also the consciousness

that is the receiver of the gifts.

 

Yet the Sadhu mutters, “I will not give

a thing which has no value”.

He does not realize that wealth

has no value unless used for the good of all!

 

Selfishness has no part in truth

nor any part in Love. Love that is selfish

is just that; “Selfish”

It is that which excludes and disqualifies

us from realization due to selfhood;

Due to I-Ness and Me-ness.

 

Due to ownership, an I exists!

Due to the mere desire to give

there is a giver, an “I”!

 

True Wisdom is not great knowledge

nor the ownership of understanding;

Wisdom is the realization of charity.

Thus what can be given with wisdom

can only be what is loving to all.

 

Which knowledge is that, and who is the knower of it?

Which knowledge is for the good of all

and who could be the giver of that?

The knowledge can only be knowledge of the One Self

And the giver of such as that,

can only be one who has realized that self.

 

Who is the receiver of great wisdom, of great love?

and who the giver? It is certainly not the one

crying from the mountain-top;

Nor is it the one who seeks value in giving;

 

It is not the one who seeks to be paid homage

neither is it the one seeking absolution.

The receiver and the giver are but one.

 

There can be thus no gain, nor any loss

for in the acceptance of the receiver –

the giver is also the receiver.

 

Wisdom is charity, nothing more.

While it is Love that is the hidden force

of consciousness and the knower of the known.

 

Having known everything, it is time to give.

At this time what can be received?

Nothing what-so-ever,

but the knowledge of “The Love of The One Self”

What can be given?

Nothing what-so-ever, but “The Love of The One Self”.

 

In this way, the one having arrived nowhere

comes home……….. Home to the heart!

Home to Love……. The light then shines.

“It was raining and there was wind. I went out to the wagon shed. You could still see the hills in the distance, not too much rain for
that–many black clouds, low and torn, like smoke from a disaster, flying angrily over the wide open ruin of the old horsebarn, where I
love to walk alone.”

Thomas Merton

THANKSGIVING HOMILY 2008

Introduction to the Readings

As we hear God’s Word for Thanksgiving 2008 let me suggest some questions for each of us: How can we give Thanks in a year not of abundance but of scarcity? With so many problems with our economy and in our world today, is it realistic to think that we can honestly say “Thanks Be To God” on this Thanksgiving Feast?

Can we actually identify with the words of Sirach: “Bless the God of all who has done wondrous things on earth?” Can we find truth in Paul’s assertion that we have been “enriched in every way?’ Can we, like the cleansed leper, return thanks because we realize what God has done for us? I believe we can – but not easily. Hear God’s Word and wonder.

Homily

Did you hear the story about the woman who looked out of her kitchen window on Monday morning to notice her neighbor hanging out her laundry to dry? She noticed that the whites looked gray and the coloreds looked dull. “Such a shame that woman doesn’t know how to wash her clothes clean,” she said to husband. The same thing happened the next Monday. But the third Monday – oh my, what a change! The whites sparkled in the sunlight and the colored clothes were radiant. Finally, the woman thought to herself, that neighbor lady has discovered how laundry should be done. When she told her husband how much better the neighbor’s laundry looked, he said, “Well, it should. Last Tuesday I washed your kitchen window.”

So often the way we see things is conditioned by our own “dirty windows.” What seems to be a problem “out there” is actually a problem “in here” – in us – in the way we perceive the situation.

On this Thanksgiving Day 2008 there appears to be so much “dirty laundry” out there in our economy — in our world. And many are and will be suffering from the filth of untruth which has undergirded our economic ways. Everyone is calling for “a fix.”

But what can effectively “fix” the flaws in our capitalistic economy? Are bailouts merely putting bandaids on a corpse? Is the answer really in a stimulus package to get you and me to spend more money? On what? For what? Is this really just a gargantuan task for the Treasury Secretary? Or does it call for a major economic conversion for each of us?

Perhaps what is really called for is a window washing of our own consciouness – a different way of seeing — clearing the clutter of our own over-stuffed lifestyles. Only if we take a good clean look at the ways in which we honestly and credibly make money, spend money, save money and share money can we truly Give Thanks in this difficult year of increasing scarcity. I believe that we CAN say “thanks alot” if we hear this financial crisis as a wake-up call from our God – challenging us to reimagine our economy according to God’s economic plan.

The huge economic bubble has burst upon us all across the globe. I suggest this is due to the fact that, with our craving for more and more “stuff” to own and manipulate, we have failed to hear and heed my Dad’s homegrown wisdom: “Don’t Get Too Big For Your Britches.” Greed – living on credit beyond our means as persons, corporations and nations – that is what has done us in. The chickens have come home to roost. Our laundry looks pretty sad! For God does not long tolerate lived lies. The truth will always win in the end.

The United States Bishops recently addressed a letter to the current administration in Washington D.C. describing our diseased economy:

“The scandalous search for excessive economic rewards even to the point of dangerous speculation that exacerbates the pain and losses of the more vulnerable are egregious examples of an economic ethic that places economic gain above all other values. Sadly, greed, speculation, exploitation of vulnerable people and dishonest practices helped to bring about this serious situation.” (September 26, 2008 Letter of Bishop William Murphy, chair of the USCCB committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development)

How can we on this Thanksgiving Day wash the filth from the windows our own economic perceptions? We MUST reevaluate our economic visions and practices from a spiritual perspective. We need to see our economy with the clear vision of God’s eyes. And that vision allows us to see and to say: what is best for me, for us, is what is best for all.

In our economic trauma these days we are in a situation resembling that of the ten lepers in today’s Gospel. How so, you say?

In Jesus time, lepers were not allowed to live a normal social life in the community. They were pushed outside the normal way of living in community because their disease was contagious. And so too is our own consumerism and materialism contagious. Shopping more in NOT the answer. We live in what some call an economic totalitarianism. Everything depends upon and is measured by money and things. We are afflicted with the sores of over-extended credit, gas-guzzling vehicles and too much “stuff” in our cupboards. More and more folks are slipping into a leprous situation – tossed out of their homes and losing the security of their savings.

Like the lepers who met Jesus and asked for mercy, we need to do the same in humility. Jesus simply told them to do what the law required for persons in that diseased condition: “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” That ritual washing was required and their cleansing had to be certified by the sacred authorities before they could return to normal living with the rest of the community.

While we may not need to “show ourselves to the priests” to fulfill a rule of ritual purity, we do need today to place our diseased economy under a spiritual x-ray – a penetrating light which can cleanse the filth of our own selfishness and greed. Our economic woes are not just structural. They are also deeply spiritual. Why? Because private gain has prevailed over the common good. We’ve lost sight of what the common good is. We are driven by a self-interest and unregulated greed – primarily looking out for good old Number One. Now there is nothing wrong with self-interest and success as long as one does this in the context of what is good for all. Healthy self-interest will always be in the context of Other-Interest.

The priorities in our economy need to be revised – or perhaps better said, reversed. Whereas our normal way of seeing the economy give first place to profit – no matter how it is gained. But, if we wash the windows of our soul, our priorities would read like this: People, Planet and then Profit. Profit gained at the expense of persons and of the global village in which we live must be seen as “dirty laundry” – indeed, as immoral because it is dehumanizing. Money must be at the service of people and the planet – not the other way around.

Back to the story of the ten lepers: Only one leper came back to thank Jesus for the healing. For him more than his body had been healed. He realized that his very way of seeing and being in the world had been transformed by God’s grace. The other nine healed lepers seem to have returned to business-as-usual. They didn’t realize what had really happened to them. Their vision had not been transformed. They could not acknowledge the One who had worked that wondrous deed. Only the one Giving Thanks had the windows of his vision purified to see the source of his New Life and The Path Ahead. It is Thanksgiving that makes all the difference.

Our global economy must grow again but in ways that serve three P’s: People, Planet and only then Profit. That will call for us to allow God to wash the windows of our perception. That can convert our old ways of selfishness and greed toward a vision of seeing all in the light of the common good. It will be a way of graciously respecting nature and supporting a sufficiency for all. That’s in strong contrast to the model of the traditional economic powers which translates to efficiency for the few and deficiency for everyone else.

Economic growth according to God’s pattern will call for a whole new way of relating to money. We must cure the leprous type of profit-first, profit-only economic growth that we have unleashed. And this new way of thinking, seeing and acting must come from the bottom up – from each one of us changing our visions, our values and our behaviors. We cannot spend our way out of this crisis. We must transform the ways in which money is made, saved, shared and spent. That’s God’s economic bailout!

If that can happen within our own consciousness and in our own consciences, then these unsettling times will have proved to have been not just scarcity but a Gift of God opening our eyes toward a more just and equitable abundance for all. Then, with Sirach on this 2008 Thanksgiving we can honestly say: “”Bless the God of all who has done wondrous things on earth Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb, and fashions them according to his will.” (Sirach 50)

Fr. Patrick W. Collins, Ph.D

Then a ploughman said, “Speak to us of Work.”

And he answered, saying:

You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.

For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.

Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.

But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,

And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,

And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.

You have been told also life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.

And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,

And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,

And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,

And all work is empty save when there is love;

And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,

And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “he who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is a nobler than he who ploughs the soil.

And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”

But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;

And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible.

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.

And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet)

“Ideas and words are not the food of the intelligence, but truth. And
not an abstract truth that feeds the mind alone. The Truth that a
spiritual man seeks is the whole Truth, reality, existence and essence
together, something that can be embraced and loved, something that can
sustain the homage and the service of our actions: more than a thing:
persons, or a Person. Him above all Whose essence is to exist. God.

Christ, the Incarnate Word, is the Book of Life in Whom we read God.”

–Thomas Merton

……………….

What is the purpose of Dogma?

I think of it like this:

I can eat soup with a fork, but it is easier to use a spoon.

Just as soup eating is easier with a spoon, if I am painting my home with a brush
and I have no more to paint, I should put down my paint brush until I need to repaint.
There is no need to stir my tea with a paint brush.

I also mean someone else’s dogma….not just a “personal dogma.”

Take the Christian dogma, this dogma will allow a person to eat their soup with a spoon. To change their “mindset.”


In order that they may be awakened toward Gnosis….

“We see things as we are, not as they are.” –Gibran

Thus there is nothing wrong with religion per se, as it allows or as the word actually means, to bind or bring together;
it allows us to be brought together… to be a sheep, yes… so that one can grow toward Gnosis.

If you want to dance, it is far easier to get classes, than it is to simply watch a Madonna video.

Thus, personally, I feel it is problematic to simply disregard religion, as many “seekers” do….
there is nothing wrong with religion, unless you refuse to grow.

–Benjamin

………………

The fourth letter of the divine name represents Shekhinah, divine presence as it dwells in matter, the sparks of holy light scattered throughout the world. This final letter of God’s name has been separated from the three that precede it, wandering through an eternity of exile, just as we have been wanderers in that great and painful chasm that lies between revelation and redemption, between our first glimmer of Y-H-W-H and our ability to transform the world in the light of that vision. Our return home is the return of Holy One and Shekhinah to one another, the reunion of cosmic male and female, cosmic parent and cosmic child. It is also the rejoining of Y-H-W-H within to Y-H-W-H beyond, the reunion of Being-in-all-its-forms with Eyn Sof, the changeless One. Here, we proclaim that ‘beyond’ and ‘within’ are one, that the great unity is one with all and with each of us wandering sparks.

Home is Y-H-W-H, the beginning and the end of our journey. The One who has sent us forth on our way and the One we discover at the end of all our wanderings are truly one and the same. Only as we come home do we understand that every step of the journey had its special place and meaning, that our particular face of the One had to be encountered in just this way and no other.

Home is earth, the mother we abandoned so very many centuries ago. Homecoming is our return to our source within this world, to the great womb out of whom we are ever being born, the one to whom we ever return. Homecoming is the rejoining of matter and spirit, an understanding that this most primal of all separations stands as the cause of our alienation from ourselves, from the deepest roots of our own tradition, and from the earth that nurtures us. Our return is the great act of healing, one directed toward all of these at once: we must heal ourselves, for we are fragmented, we must heal our tradition, for it has been distorted, leading us to less than a full embrace of the One, we must heal the earth, restoring to her that which generations have plundered while there is yet time. The hour is late. Our homecoming takes place not a minute too soon.”

Arthur Green (Seek My Face)

“True love leads a man to fulfillment, not by drawing thing to himselfbut by forcing him to transcend himself and to become something greaterthan himself. True spiritual love takes the isolated individuals,exacts from him labor, sacrifice, and the gift of himself. It demandsthat he ‘lose his life’ in order to find it again on a higher level –in Christ.”

–Thomas Merton

I am forever walking upon these shores,

Betwixt the sand and the foam,

The high tide will erase my foot-prints,

And the wind will blow away the foam.

But the sea and the shore will remain

Forever.

Once I filled my hand with mist.

Then I opened it and lo, the mist was a worm.

And I closed and opened my hand again, and behold there was a bird.

And again I closed and opened my hand, and in its hollow stood a man with a sad face, turned upward.

And again I closed my hand, and when I opened it there was naught but mist.

But I heard a song of exceeding sweetness.

It was but yesterday I thought myself a fragment quivering without rhythm in the sphere of life.

Now I know that I am the sphere, and all life in rhythmic fragments moves within me.

They say to me in their awakening, “You and the world you live in are but a grain of sand upon the infinite shore of an infinite sea.”

And in my dream I say to them, “I am the infinite sea, and all worlds are but grains of sand upon my shore.”

Only once have I been made mute. It was when a man asked me, “Who are you?”

–Kahlil Gibran

When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations –whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion.

–Barack Obama

“Like a servant lying prostrate before Thee, our eyes are lifted to Thee, our lips give Thee praise and blessing seven hours of the day and the three watches of the night.”

–Qulasta (Ancient Aramaic Prayer Book)

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