Monday, February 15, 2010

An Assemblage of Separate Things: Part 3- Final Thoughts

"We then behold the Self wherever we look, and its image is the universe in its light and in its darkness, in its bodies and in its spaces. This is the new image of man, but it is an image. For there remains --- to use dualistic words --- "behind," "under," "encompassing," and "central" to it all the unthinkable IT, polarizing itself in the visible contrasts of waves and troughs, solids and spaces. But the odd thing is that this IT, however inconceivable , is no vapid abstraction: it is very simply and truly yourself."

The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts (pg. 155)

My first thought after finishing The Book was "I need to read that again". I can't pinpoint exactly what resonated with me, but I feel that something did. Resonating is different from believing, especially because the concepts brought up in this book goes beyond belief into the realm of understanding. Simply believing that we are IT does nothing for us since IT must be experienced firsthand. Once experienced , once you Know, as Ram Dass describes it in his book, Remember, Be Here Now, "to him who has had the experience no explanation is necessary, to him who has not, none is possible."

So where does that leave the reachers, seekers, explorers, thinkers, and everyone else drawn to the Unnameable? If God/Jesus/Allah/Brahman/Deus/Elohim/the Universe can be experienced why do we stop at simply having a relationship with the Divine? Would not a deep close relationship be one where we begin to lose track of our separateness like Adam and Eve described as "one flesh" in Genesis 2:24? Christians speak about having a relationship with Jesus Christ and even describe the closeness of that relationship with the Christ and the Church as one body, made up of many individuals (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Yet when we think of our own body we can't pinpoint directly where the "I" resides (watch the cute animation from part 2), so what about the church? Where is the central "I" of the church? Most Christians would say it is Jesus, but that would be like my hand saying that my head is in control, the head being more important bearing the full identity of the body. I'm aware that Paul was probably writing about communal cohesion and interdependence but my point is if we, as Christians, were to have a connection so intimate with the Divine we had difficulty describing where the Divine ends and the mortal begins imagine the transformation within us! We would not feed, clothe, comfort others because "it is the Christian thing to do" but because they are a part of us, realizing the deep connection we share with all creation. It would be like my feet, hands, and mouth refusing to work because they think the stomach is lazy. Eventually we'll feel the pain of our unloving actions.

Do I believe this taboo of taboos, that I am God (i.e. The Universe)? No, and even if I did I would have completely misunderstood the concept. It's not that I'm opposed to it or I can't grasp the concept, it just seems that this taboo must be experienced. To paraphrase Watts, those that say they Know don't truly Know. It isn't ABOUT belief! It's about connection, experience, and that is the big hurdle which must be taken daily. I want to move beyond belief and faith to embrace the interdependence we share with all.

An edited and extended version of this post is up on my class blog, American Spirituality, where my classmates and I will be posting our thoughts on our class readings.

1 comment:

Don said...

I think, whether we admit it or not, seek the experience you speak of here. I will admit that I have not as of yet had that experience. That, however, does not deter me in the least from my journey to seek it. I, as Watt says, don't think there will be any question in my mind that I have experienced IT. Continuing my journey with great anticipation, I AM.

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