Sunday, June 03, 2007

Staying Put

What if there is nothing to do in order to awake up to the Truth? What if prayer, meditation, chanting, contemplation, and reading sacred texts were all a distraction? What if the entire religious enterprise was busywork designed to keep you from realizing God here and now?

I suspect this is the case. I could argue my point from experience. I have tried almost every religious discipline, and I have yet to wake up. But that kind of argument is weak. I know too many people who have used these techniques successfully to argue against the tools. I simply have to admit to my own incompetence.

Yet despite my own lack of success I still feel that spiritual discipline is a kind of busywork. Is enlightenment getting something you don’t have, or is it discovering something you already have? If the former then you should expect to work hard to get it. If the latter, then working hard is a waste of time and energy.

I think that Truth is not something you learn but something you recall. It is like forgetting the name of a friend. The more you try to find the name in your memory bank the more it seems to hide. But when you give up and move on to something else, the name pops into your mind seemingly of its own accord. Did you find the name, or did the name find you?

It is the same with God. You don’t find God; God finds you. And God does so only when you stop looking. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book title God In Search of Man is exactly right: God is looking for you, but as long as you are running around looking for God you are never found. It is like a little child lost in a department store. As long as both parent and child are running around looking for one another neither will be found. But if the child is taught to stay put, eventually the parent will find her.

So perhaps the key to religion is learning to stay put. Stay put in your story. Stay put in your confusion. Stay put in your suffering. Stay put in your situation. Don’t try to change anything or be anyone other than you are right now. Just stay put. Of course you can’t make a discipline of staying put for that would be doing something other than staying put, so you have to drop the idea of doing and non–doing altogether, and then drop the idea of dropping the idea.

When you are simply OK or not OK with being OK or not OK with what is and what isn’t, then you are staying put, and then God can find you. And what happens when God finds you? It depends.

I was lost once in a store and when my mom found me she was so happy that she hugged and kissed me. Another time in another store she was so pissed I’d gone missing that she whacked my butt when she found me. So having God find you may or may not a good thing, and you will have to stay put with that as well.


Tom said...

It's the dogs fault! It's always the dogs fault!.. in exactly the meaning you gave to the dog. In the past we had a "god" of the rain, the sea, the sky, the mountain, the forrest ... well I could go on for what seems "forever". However the point is as we "killed" a "god" we became more "civilized". It is rumoured that Christ even said "split a log, turn over a rock and there I am" If he did say those words, IMHO they meant one does not need the pope or even jesus.
When I was a young person my sanctuary was the quiet of the woods near my home. We humans actually need a time of quiet, to be sane. Thus religion was created with one day off from work. A "well being break". Just try and work 24/7 and see what happens you your humanity, not just to others but to yourself.
A line from a play: "God created man in his own image(gods or mans??) and man, being the humorous animal, returned the compliment". Oh, one other thing you can try, if you feel brave and strong: Start a conversation about the concept of god and others who feel a little strong/brave will give their opions about their faith/religious beliefs. All will go well untill you say that there is no god. You will be nailed to the cross. It seems it is ok to believe that a rock is god but not ok to say god does not exist and that to belive in a god is pure poppycock.
thank you Rami for this forum. Now I know why Torah study is great fun.
PS: I, and others too, miss you here at Temple Beth Or.

Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of this quote: "We may think it's spiritual to yearn for divine connection. And yet, if the longing is to fill an emptiness inside, just how does this differ from the one who yearns for money or possessions to fill the inner void? Do we look to our spiritual practices as proof of our evolved consciousness or as protection against fears? Any time we use spiritual disciplines to maintain our identity and security, we are not yet on the path of genuine spiritual development." Author unknown

I do not know who wrote it or even if I would like the person that did or agree with the author's other beliefs. I only know there is a fundamental truth in the aforementioned quote and I take that wherever I can find it.

Tom, I love your comment and this quote "God created man in his own image(gods or mans??)and man, being the humorous animal, returned the compliment". Don't pick on the dog. :) Remember, Dog is God spelled backwards. Aha! An epiphany. (Not for me, I know my dog is Divine).