I ask my reader kind and considerate enough be to reading this: does this make any sense to you? Do you see any truth in it? Or am I speaking a lot of nonsense and tripe?
Having given you all this manure now is the time to turn it over and see if there is a horse under it all.
If there is nothing more but life, nothing before nothing after, then all of this has been an exercise in futility. It has been like flapping wings but never trying to fly.
My proposition in writing is this:
There is something more about this life than meets the eye. All we need is to look for it, using whatever data available, and see what we find.
In the metaphor used in the previous part I described Chrysalis as the process that can occur with us as we live in this life.
The means by which we can effectively enter into Chrysalis is looking beyond all that is material and see it the material directs us to anything that might be out there.
I talk of recognizing a two fold process we have available through which to do so. The first is the material. We can and need to be very involved with it to live from start to finish in life to allow for the opportunity to do something more with life. This is where we enmesh ourselves in this life about us and live it fully.
We have a second facility we can use. It requires the first facility just to keep us alive, more to keep us directed, mostly to keep us acquisitive to something more than we receive on the level or from the first facility viz, that material part.
We can’t go out and look for it. We need to be open to it and when it happens in front of us as it will from fleeting time to fleeting time, we must grasp it as fully as it will allow.
This is when something more can be evoked from what we encounter looking up and out and sensing that fleeting something.
We have had moments of this: Walking in the woods finding a sense of holy. Listening to a beautiful piece of music and becoming one with its grandeur. In prayer or meditation sensing something greater, more, warm, touching us. My personal experience of discovery in recovery from alcoholism is such a moment extended into time; viz. using the tool of “turning it over” and sensing an ultimate cleansing and total change.
These moments happen. They are there and then they are gone. The sense of them remains however, forever poignant in us.
What happens that fails for words to describe it? What occurs that so abruptly affects, the origin of which passes us by? Our only true knowledge of it is in the retrospect we have of it. We see it happen, we continue to live with what it added to us and we cherish it.
Martin Buber in his seminal book I and Thou describes this as the two level encounter we experience in living. The world of “It” which is the material place, the water in which we swim. The world of “Thou” to which we have access. The first level we need to live he says. The second is optional. We can encounter in it and evoke much from it in the very way I describe the fleeting encounter with it.
Buber concludes that it is in the world of “I and Thou” we are able to engage, encounter, evoke, and ascend to something more than what we were. It is in this he describes our ability to transcend our finite boundary invoked by the material of which we are part, and there ascend to a transcendence not of this finite world, ultimately which is God.
He states what the mystics do but opens our door to access it. He describes our limited capability to involve with it and become more by reason of doing it. This all done in our capacity of living in this unique dimension we know as life. It is not necessary to go through the esoteric exercises of reaching for the Seven Heavens.
I read and re-read I and Thou trying to get a handle on it and a grip around it. I am still reading it and trying.
I could go to the Mysticslook there and certainly find more.
As I studied and continue to study Judaism, the religious way I have chosen to follow, what I learned caused me to forego aspiring to an understanding of mysticism. My purpose in learning mysticism was to leave the boundaries of earth and enter the realms of the heavens.
In Judaism I learned a healthy respect of living this life in which we are involved to the fullest. It is there for us to use for our benefit. Looking elsewhere shortchanges our mission of looking here while we yet live. “Don’t worry about anything else” they said. “Stay in the Here and Now and exhaust all that has to offer!” “Pray, Do Good Works, for others, and study” “Within the context of living here and now the doing of these three will make you holy!”
That in a nut shell is the Credo I took as mine.
Prayer and Mitzvah (good works) and lots of Study are what it is all about for me. It was in the doing of this that I discovered this new and different mystical gift.
I experienced it first, concretely in AA: “Turn it over, Let go, Let God.” I learned it in the retrospective realization that it worked and it continued to work every time I put it to task on my behalf. This was real, I could feel it, touch it, know about it, and soar boundlessly with it.
I saw it work in countless ways in my life. The most recent manifestly concrete experience been in the coping with my diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This too became my gift to do with it for the good of others.
My study trying to answer “why” intensified. I found myself reading Karen Armstrong’s Biography of Buddha. This provoked the flash of another light bulb in my head. “Hey, what Buddha said, what the Buddhists do, puts Buber’s insight to work. It gives formula to finding and having the “I – Thou” experience and all of its gifts.
Earlier I had sensed in reading Buber that AA and recovery were “I and Thou” in action. Now I found formula for inducing that in the form and function of “Living the Way of Buddhism.”
If I had soared before; if I was in wonder before, or what another philosopher calls “Radical Amazement” I was there in what I read. I was more there in what I studied. I had a real sense of arrival and total congruity with the whole of me as I put it to practice.
I remain a Jew. A simple formula attracted me to embrace Judaism. I wanted to be holy in a way that I could really be holy and sense it to be so. Prayer, Mitzvah and Study became my road map. Using it, with life continuing to produce experience for me, I learned and ultimately found Buddhism. Now I have more peace and serenity than I ever thought possible.
Being a Jew, I follow the Way of Buddhism.
All of where I have been, all of what has happened to me now makes sense. More than that where I am going even makes more sense.
In my next part of this series I will step more deeply into Buddhism, into where that fits in so magnificently with what is.