Thursday, September 25, 2008
Less is More
One of the most profound truths in modern science is that the fundamental reality of the universe is nothingness. There's the nothingness of space, the nothingness between the atoms in a molecule, the nothingness at the subatomic level. There is some stuff, of course, but not much.
A profound spiritual truth in many traditions is the belief that divine reality, a.k.a. God, is completely without form, cannot be seen or known or even described. What we Jews like to think is that any attempt to describe God can only tell us what He isn't. He is everything and nothing (which might account for why God is depicted in the Bible as such a psychopath, one second loving and generous, the next minute raging and smiting. Current translations of the Bible leave much to be desired, if you ask me.)
I've been thinking about how prayer works here in our reality where everything is shaped, where our bodies, homes, cities and landscapes all seem solid as rocks. Our ideas, too, find congealed forms within the "solid" domes of our craniums. Oh, we humans are such great sculptors on so many levels.
What do people pray for? We ask for help, for guidance. We pray that people who are sick will recover, for the safety and happiness of the people we love. What I'm wondering is, are we asking God to undo the illness, to remove our loved ones from dangerous situations, to open the hearts of our near and dear ones so that unhappiness can melt and evaporate? I'm thinking when we pray we are usually asking for the miracle of undoing.
Of course sometimes we pray for a new bicycle or a puppy (though mostly not after the age of eight) and I'm not saying those prayers don't work. It seems to me, though, that we're overcapable of bringing more stuff into our lives. We're great at shaping the world and our minds, too great if you ask me. We don't really need divine help with any of that.
It's the undoing that's so hard for us. Isn't that why so many spiritual paths include meditation as part of their practices? It gives us a chance to experiment with having an unformed mind. Even a glimpse of quiet mind/quiet heart is miraculous - that's why so many of us sit down to meditate every day. It brings us closer to the unformed reality of the divine, gives us a glimpse of true liberation.
I don't know what's going on in the U.S. at the moment. Our stuttering monkey of a lame duck president threatened us with a great depression by next Monday if we're unwilling to pay off the bankers who are responsible for the financial mess we're now facing. Shame on him! Comparing what's going on to 9/11? What a bully ... oh, and no offense to monkeys intended.
While I was meditating this morning it came to me that this crisis, though chaotic and horrible for those of us who don't have money or means to do anything about it, is in its own way a divine blessing of undoing. Empires rise and empires fall. They always have. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
May the people with funky mortgages find the resources and guidance and strength they need to get through this next period of time. May we see through the tactics of fear, may we remain calm, may our minds stay open to all possibilities. We can make this mess worse - we're good at that. God? Will you help us let go? Please? Thanks for listening! Amen.
The Financial Crisis for Dummies. If you have 40 minutes, give a listen. Incredibly clear and understandable. And very sad.