Thursday, January 27, 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy

Song of the Angels by W. Adolphe
Once I read somewhere (I forget the reference) that many meetings are like a visit to the toilet. It involves much sitting, noise and eventually the outcome is flushed down the toilet. As Raymond pointed out as a comment to a post in this blog, as regards spiritual matters, much time is wasted in worthless spiritual discussions and arguments. Nothing could be truer. Spirituality involves many things that are felt rather than seen. It also includes abstract concepts and therefore a meaningless argument becomes all the more likely. As a simple example consider how meaningless is the argument between two men about whether a particular actress is sexy or not. What is sexy to one may be repulsive to another, since in such matters much personal experience and taste is involved. Just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, spiritual understanding is in the heart of the beholder.

Consider the frequent argument between, theists and atheists whether God exists or does not. Often the argument takes place without bothering to clarify what a person means by God. God is not seen and therefore different persons develop different concepts about God. To one man God, the Almighty, is someone who sits on a crystal throne in a crystal mountain surrounded with shining white robed angels that keep singing – holy, holy, holy. To another person God is merely the entire universe, both the seen and unseen aspects of it. If two such persons began an argument about whether God exists or not it is quite meaningless. If both believed in the latter argument that God is the entire universe then too the argument is meaningless. There is nothing to argue about in the latter case.

The two that regard God as the entire Universe may however argue about the fact that the Universe or Almighty God has an intelligence that can interact at a personal level or not. It might be just dead matter. However this argument too would be futile incase God was such that it left alone those who do not grant it a consciousness and intelligence, and only interacted personally with those who did. If this were the case both persons would be right.

Coming down to more specific arguments two persons believing in God and engaged In a spiritual discussions may begin arguing if God is inside us or we are inside God or if God sits separately on His crystal throne to the melodious chants of holy, holy, holy. On the other hand to a person who believes that God is the universe then all of these positions could be true simultaneously. A mighty king sitting on a throne is also a part of the universe; we too are inside the universe, while some of the universe is within us. We might even regard the Universe as our eternal father since we are made up of elements from it and say that I am inside my Father and my Father is in me, or we might say my father and me are one since the universe is one single entity.

Regarding the Universe as a Father of all of us we could argue endlessly about the fact that a particular saint was the Son of God or not and go to war over it. Or, we might just silently say that he has to be a son of God just as we all are.

We could go on to argue that a mother is a Virgin or not, or that a virgin birth is impossible while a doctor may come along and say that he does that all the time through sperm injections. We might then argue that a virgin birth is with a spirit or matter without defining what a spirit is.

We can then change the topic to whether the soul exists or not and badger a person to death who holds that a soul exists, when all that the poor fellow may have implied with the soul was that part of the self that feels pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, a part that all life presumably has.

We could make our arguments more intelligent by beginning with definitions but define with the help of words that are not defined, so that in the end the discussion may be like the outcome of the meeting described at the beginning of this post – shit to be precise, if one may use unpardonable language.

As they say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but the judges of a beauty contest have an understanding enlightened enough to distinguish between a buffalo and a cow, yet spiritual understanding is in the heart of the enlightened and therefore not as easily judged by words chosen to express them, yet when one approaches the Universe with utmost humility in one's smallness not greatness, the Universe may grant that understanding in the heart directly out of  love or grace, so that we may not fret in desperation and fear, just as an infant does when it can not see its mother around, but instead be just as secure, delighted and fearless as an infant is in a mother's bosom. We are already and always in the bosom of Infinity but often too distracted to realize that.

18 comments:

John Myste said...

You recommended this post to Vincent, and as one who could have been named Vincent, I naturally assumed you may have meant me. You did not, after all, clarify who Vincent is.

This is very profound and very true. We debate our view of the label before we define the label and everyone sees his own vision. I argue about if the thing exist and you counter. One of is discussing one thing, and the other another.

Very well done, sir.

Vincent said...

I won’t argue with anything you have written, Ashok. By attacking things you have said in the past, you have gradually got me to say that attacking only leads to defending and counter-attacking, something I should have learned 60 years ago in the playground.

But still, we like to discuss and share. Long may it continue. And as so often before, you have inspired me to a new post, hopefully one different, and even contrary to all previous ones.

Vincent said...

Thing is, when it comes to God, I never ask what someone means by it. A person’s private conception is something I will not question. And the public conception is too vast for me, just one of billions, to question.

I haven’t come across two men arguing as to whether an actress is sexy or not. I don’t mix in those circles. But it’s endlessly fascinating to compare notes on these matters. My favourite actress, by the way, is Helena Bonham Carter. She plays the Duchess of York, later Queen, in The King’s Speech. Sexy? I don’t think that way any more, usually. To me, it is only black women who are truly sexy. But then, I am married to one. This has coloured my perceptions, as you might say.

ashok said...

Welcome John it is a pleasure to have you paticipate. Thanks for your views. Hope you add to it.

ashok said...

Inspite of what the post says about discussion Vincent, that can be very enlightening too, especially if one tries to understand the view of the other with an open mind and heart. i hope we have many more such.

I too do not mix in the circles that discuss the sexiness of women any more Vincent, but in college and soon after we did.

It is interesting that you find black women sexy. Over here in India most prefer fair women. With me it has been more to do with features and mannerisms, the smile, the way of talking, laughing, walking etc.

Now though My mind is mostly off that sort of pursuits, but on some occassions it returns to it. I hope to stay off from that direction now since there is so much else in the universe to enjoy. My current passion is nature - mountains, rivers, lakes, forest and the moors.

John Myste said...

Vincent,

You are too unwilling to challenge in my opinion. If you do not question what someone means, and you don't really know, then the discussion becomes a mystery. A point does not rest on its own merit, but becomes a puzzle. A statement about thing X is not so meaningful, unless I know what X is.

I thought the circles where "sexy" was discussed were mostly universal. I find all colors thus far encountered to be sexy, assuming the comment is allowed in this small circle. My wife, like yours, is black. She is the first black woman I ever dated, and I hope the last. Were she the color of a chameleon, I would not complain, and though it is not my first choice, I would even tolerate orange.

Ashok,

Thank you, sir.

ashok said...

Well looks like both of you, John and Vincent have an essential part of life in common.

I find all colors sexy too as long as they were restricted to some other things. In humans I am certain to be turned off by green, but any of the flesh tones from black to white are fine with me.

cheers

Vincent said...

Well, Ashok, it is not literally a question of colour!

And John, of course I have my private judgements, but I don’t think there is occasion for me to question someone’s relation to God.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, how to write a sequel to my last post which would lead a reader directly towards what I want to say, without the distraction of controversy, and I can’t see a way. I’m not alone in this, of course. There are so many people who have abandoned the word God, because the very word has become a battlefield. So they will use circumlocutions, like the All, the All-there-is, the Life-Force, Nature, and so on. Perhaps the Presence.

Then it seems to me that mere belief engenders the clanging of empty vessels, whilst knowing can be propagated only in silence.

ashok said...

Good to see you returning to the topic of the post Vincent.

the website noetic science uses the word 'universal consciousness'

I used to say 'Nature' at one time to avoid similar confusion.

your statement "whilst knowing can be propagated only in silence."

perhaps implies "whilst knowing can be acquired only in silence"

Vincent said...

I’m not sure how you get that implication, Ashok. But I ought to clarify what I meant.

As I understand it, acquiring the knowing doesn’t take place in any given space of time. One goes about one’s business, in silence or otherwise. One would naturally suppose that the most effective way of propagating knowing (of God) would be through language. But it is clearly fraught with distraction and confusion.

Vincent said...

So what is the topic of the post that I was returning to, Ashok?

John Myste said...

I thought the topic was either "Holy, holy, holy," or "Does it make sense to have a conversation about God if neither of us realizes that you are discussing one entity / force and I another?"

The second topic is exceedingly interesting and thought-provoking. The first one is funny, though.

Vincent said...

Well, I see God as something entirely subjective.

John Myste said...

As there is no discernable object, I have no choice but to agree with you, Vincent.

ashok said...

John impressed by the condition of the homeless in your blog post I was inspired to post a new one about the economy and the homeless.

ashok said...

As regards God and Vincent's view of Him, as a result of our discussion it seems to me that Vincents view of God is a very Buddhist one.

ashok said...

The View of the Buddha as far as I could make out was that

" God may or may not exist dont bother about that, but Universal Bliss exists, go for it.

Knowledge about it can be acquired only through personal experience. Do not believe anything about it that others say including me. "

However he did talk about it so that must have helped too.

ashok said...

Today when I revisited this post, there was some slight editing done in the last paragraph too.