“So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you or your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.”
This is what happens to the Israelites when they “forsook the Lord.”
To be cast into the unknown as a terrible place both of “I don’t know where I am” and “nobody else has ever been where I am” is the lonely fate of every man when he loses and forgets the proper relationship between himself and God—or rather, the proper relationship between his own knowledge and the knowledge of God. Just as himself and God are not the same thing; so is man’s own knowledge and the knowledge of God. He turns toward his own knowing, which is a “holding on” and a dead thing, rather than a knowing of God: which is the acceptance and favor of Abel—a letting go of what one knows, which enables the ability to turn and embrace, in a kind of love, what one can’t possibly know. (“You believe in God, believe also in me.”)
And because the man who has forgotten the Lord has the improper attitude toward knowing, he is unprepared for the constant and gradual overtaking of the complexity of life and the negative aspect the unknown brings with it; which is simply common to all man as it is the nature of reality.
And instead of learning to love the unknown, he learns to hate it. He learns to hate its complexity. He tries to avoid its punishments, but he can’t. He is a slave to it. He is thrown fully into the unknown’s inevitable clutches. If he could only turn and see. If he could only lift his eyes to the hills, he would see where his help comes from. And it also lies in the unknown.
Is anyone born as a slave?
Or, as Jeremiah puts it: “Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth?”
I mean spiritually, psychologically, individually. No. We are free. Born as free as a bird in the sky. Free of the burden of the ego. Free of enculturation. So, the answer is no, we are born free.
So who puts us into bondage?
Jeremiah answers: “Have you not brought this on yourselves?” v17
Which is similar to the profound idea:
What goes out of you comes back to you as what’s happening to you.
Psychologically, we flat out reject our responsibility in the negative aspect of that statement, but on its positive aspects we quickly seize all credit and inflate ourselves with air. Our psyche is wrong on both counts. We are double-blind: blind, both to the evil within us and to the goodness without us. Like Samson; blind in two worlds. The world above and the world below. Frankenstein’s monster is created this way.
In all our running around and moralizing, “I am not defiled. I am not defiled. I serve no Baals!” (v23ff). We loudly announce the approach our self-righteous morality to our own wicked spirits within us, so that they never have to fear being caught. These bandits can happily sit in our blindspot waiting for our inner moral police, our endlessly arguing attorneys, and our hypocritical judges (our entire mock self-judicial system) to leave so they can do whatever they want with our lives, our desires, our actions, and our thoughts. Just look around you, moron. Look at the inner and outer Gotham of your lives.
We have an invisible mole sitting right within our inner police force—spying out our morality. That is a HUGE problem to get around. (Impossible?) If my own moral bloviating to myself IS the thing giving Evil the upper hand in my life, what can I do? How can I hide from myself? How can I keep my exhausting thoughts on the rules of good and bad behavior secret from my evil self?
I must turn against my own moral system which I have corrupted—turn against the lawless laws of the pharisees; reject the unshielding armor of King Saul—and trust the hero. I must, deep within the walls, in the silence of night, give the justice of my broken city over to someone else. Someone that comes mysteriously both from outside and inside. I must trust in that which is both deeper and higher than I—that which completely transcends me. I must become less. I must remove myself and give up control as ruler of the city. I must trust in the one who knows what to do.
The solution to any problem is not to get rid of the problem.
Then the problem really never goes away.
The solution to a problem involves water. It is a “solution.” It is a solute dissolved by water into a mixture. Solid becomes liquid. One state of matter into another.
It is solvent. Liquid. It is mixture. It is admixture. It is integration of the problem INTO yourself. It is ingestion. To change. To change. To change. To grow. Which is life. Not sterility. Not shooing. Not eschewing. Change (real knowing, real growth, becoming new) cannot occur without acceptance of the problem. An answer given —as opposed to found or realized--is not a solution: it is a cheat. It simply sweeps the actual problem aside, stunting growth and multiplying the problem in the future. The answer to any problem is not the same as the solution to that problem. An answer is only a thought, an idea or a concept that sits all alone on the other side of an equation to null it out. The solution to the problem is the miraculous combination of the problem with the answer. This admixture must include two other elements: you and that which transcends you (that which without which there is no which). The solution includes the learning that came with it. It is the understanding that you must drink the poisoned cup you do not want as the antedate for the eating the poisoned apple you did want. It is now part of the body.
Here lies more firmament: The problems and these elements were always there, it is just that you did not know it. They can neither be created nor destroyed. It is what is called the problem of problems, and it always lurks inside your conscious awareness floating at the edge of your vision near the realm of the unconscious, waiting to become fully realized. The Answer exists completely in the realm outside of your vision…waiting to be let in…waiting to be part of the solution.
The profound questions to answer are not “what is the problem?” And “who am I?”
Rather, it is the reverse:
“Who is the problem?” And “what am I?”
Water--the living water--dissolves things. It tells you things you did not know about yourself. The woman at the well came into direct contact with a deeper well and drew forth the kind of water containing the unconscious elements of not so much “who she was,” but more fundamentally “what she was” and “whose she was.” Bringing what was once swimming in the darkness below, up to her conscious world.
This is the effect of living water.
It opens your eyes. It descales the build up of chalky deposits blinding the vision of eyes exposed to shallow well-water. Blindness is the result of eating the apple of “I can choose what I want for better or worse!” A power which opens the eye to one's conscious self, but shuts it to everything else. Only by drinking the cup filled with aqua vitae can the sleeping eye awaken.
Living water is a thermal barrier within the cold depths of the sea; the barrier between the death of beasts and life of fishes. It is a barrier that must be passed through to arrive where you always were.
Living water stops thirst. It quenches the fire of egoic desire. “I I I!” and “want want want!” finally become, “I’m not thirsty anymore. Do you still thirst?”
Living water is much more related to the afterdeath than the afterlife.
Living water turns the end into the beginning--and the beginning into the end. "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." It reverses conscious awareness’ tendency to separate these "two points" as far as possible on a line from one another; and then celebrate this long-distance marriage as a hard, crusty thing called an event. It turns the alpha and the omega of the Wedding at Cana into the circle it always was.
…to understand the Old Testament idea of the Judaic God and sacrifice as different from all others. Sacrifice crosses all cultures, barriers and continents. The idea is so fundamental to man that it simply pops into existence in the earliest chapters of Genesis without preamble or explanation. It is treated as an a priori concept. Somehow humanity—mankind—human consciousness—Adam’s spawn—had awakened worldwide to the idea that sacrificial behavior (“give up something now for something better later”) is linked to survival. But to whom, to what, how, and why? Out of all gods to whom sacrifice is made, the Hebrews miraculously discovered only one way works for life and eternity: God is invisible. He MUST be. Otherwise He is simply an image made by man, even if the image is in his head. Man shouldn’t even name God, which is to say, even concepts, thoughts and ideas of God are already wrong. He is the God that we CAN’T see. When the Lord says “They ascend for acceptance in Mine alter” (Isaiah 60:7), He speaks of the only alter in the world with NOTHING where an image should sit to watch—an empty seat—a holy place for one only with the truest heart to fill with the Glory of the Living God.
There is Living God and living man. A relationship marvelously and purposefully beautified in the enfleshed Jesus at the culmination of redemption. God and man. No image in between the Cherubim. A mirror for each other. The most perfect reflection of God requires wiping our conscious mind as cleanly as possible. To see. To see what can’t be seen.
The woman at the well:
“Come meet the man who didn’t tell me who he was—he told me who I was.”
“When I asked him directions on how to get there, he said, ‘Oh, yes, I know where it is…but I wouldn’t start from here.’”
When Jesus shows up and tumps all your stuff over...you have a choice to make.
I thought I might just say a couple of things that have helped me—in reading; in thinking; in life:
I don’t know anything.
And the place of “I don’t know anything,” is the place where all things are new. Because if I know it, then it’s not new any more—not “news” anymore. Jesus stands at the doorway between what you know and what you don’t know, ushering you into a new world— a new creation. This eternal newness becomes increasingly clear when reading John's gospel, because Jesus never answers anyone’s question directly. He can not abide assumptions, presumptions, and “what you think you know.”
The other thing is:
Everything is WAY MORE connected. Less separate. Way deeper. Infinitely deep. Which is another way of saying: resist the urge to disconnect. To cut and isolate. To flatten things to one dimension—one perspective. (Take it from a cyclops like myself—you turn into a monster when you see the world from one perspective). It’s why there are four gospels, after all. To see from different points of view. For example, Mark’s gospel is short, lean, and fast. It’s almost as if you can hear the Romans banging down his door as he scribbles down the story of Jesus. Whereas John’s gospel is like reading Steinbeck or Dostoevsky. It’s insanely, miraculously, creative and beautiful and personal.
Try to understand that each word connects—just like your life—to its neighbors, which are in context to other sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, and eventually the whole overarching story. Each part is just as important to the whole as the whole is to each part.
So, the word.
It is not like the written word. Like grammar. The greek word is Logos—which I say in my heart all the time now. It is something like “truthful speech. “ But more than that. It’s like a Way of Being. A way of being in the world. A way of being human—a real human. John seems to be saying that Jesus—the logos—was what God spoke into the void. To create everything. It’s like the origin of consciousness—the light of all man. It has some connection to consciousness itself—behavior itself—“how to act in the world.” We all stand at the cusp of the unknown at every moment. Potential lies before us—the void. And depending on how we act; as we hover before it; we can create heaven or hell, light or dark, blessings or curses. It’s like, you can either live—exist—act—speak—BE—in this singular, truthful, giving, loving, bright, spontaneous, courageous, vital way…or…not. And John is saying that God—who we are the image of—spoke the Logos into everything. But it is hidden—shrouded from us. The light of all man. But man can not see it. And John is not saying it in a finger-wagging kind of way, like, “You should choose the light.” He is saying that’s just how it is. And that’s just what man does.
1 Corinthians 14:20
When it comes to evil, be an infant. Paul echoes the second half of Job’s pivotal, two-part, life-changing verse on how to begin standing up under the weight of life: shun evil. Evil is base. Basic. Evil concepts, attitudes, and behaviors are the most readily detectable and therefore avoidable spirits of one’s soul. Like the ground is more familiar than the stars; such is man's lowness more familiar than his heights. And for the man reborn; the Job who lifts his eyes from the ashes into new life; who innocently crawls towards his bipedal humanity: though he may not yet understand all that is good…all that is truth…at least he understands (without being told and from the beginning) what is lie; what is evil.
But beyond evil, when it comes to thinking, be an adult. Paul encourages that when one comes across a challenging and paradoxical concept in one’s life--in one’s theology, in one’s psychology, in one’s religion, in one’s spirit-- and thinks, Man, I don’t like to think about that! I don’t want to go there! : don’t shun it. That is exactly where one must go. Otherwise at the crossroads of indecision, the moment one selects the path he prefers, he rejects all others. And Paul, the once great and mighty hand of judgement for well-worn pavement, reminds us that walking along unwanted paths and in fields that are “not mine” is the one who stumbles upon buried treasure. Again and again, within deeply mined quarries scarred with years of excavation, it is among the rejected where the cornerstone is found. Go there to build temples.
“Help me to understand.”
There is nothing else. The path of the ego is the path to the lowest place. Ends there. But it is also where humility Begins—must begin. Humility, if it is ever to be found, is found in the abyss—where profound things always are. And then, down there in the dirt, an amazing thing happens: the eyes begin to lift. The journey starts to climb upward. It is the place of “levavi oculos.” It is elevation. It is the place of revealed truth, rather than argued truth.
What more do I need?
Jesus—the mode of being that redeems—is all the sign I need. All the miracle I need. Am I not amazed at this life? Do I see only my tiny years, or do I see the eternal moment of right now? Do I simultaneously look one way and say, “My time on this earth is too short!” and look another and say, “I have plenty of time;” never able to live right now—the ONE AND ONLY place where life actually happens; refusing, rejecting, ignorant—waiting for some other time, some other life?
Jesus says,”Do you want me to exceed your expectations? What do you expect?”
Faith happens in the absence—on the other side; in the letting go—of my wants. My wants are marred by smallness; tarnished by fear; pushed and pulled by the external. In their absence, ONLY by their removal, can I finally see the one who says, “Ask me anything? And as long as you do it my name—the name of redemption—in the name of that which exists outside of what you know—it is done.”
It’s like, “The unknown can either be trusted or feared. I am asking you to trust.”