The phrase “Fear the Lord” has a bit of a negative ring to it.
Fear the Lord.
The atheist hears the ring of it and laughs. The agnostic hears it too, then rolls his eyes and sidles closer to the atheist.
Fear the Lord.
The pragmatist hears it and has heard enough, having no more time for ringing or any other “unusual” sounds. The modern christian fundamentalist, completely inured in rationalism, hears the negative tune and heartily sings along since the phrase happens to be written down in several books of the Bible, wishing he didn’t feel sour in the stomach every time the Lord seems about to take off his belt and whip somebody.
But all are wrong. All are half-brained…the left half. All are weak. All have forgotten how to listen. All are deaf, having ripped off one ear and stuffed the other with themselves. All have muted “Fear the Lord,” which tolls from the land of dreams, the place where everything begins and everything ends, under layers of insulation.
Two bells are ringing, one much larger—much more ancient—than the other. One booms from the depths of existence. One drones eternally with the sound of all sounds. The cracked bell out of which all sounds emerge. “Fear the Lord” rings on.
Fear the lord.
It is to turn away from fearing fear itself. To hear fear itself for the first time. It is to stand at the turning point of your life and look back at all that has come before and all that will come after—in a real sense, see the wholeness of existence— and to only fear ever being the eternal bearer of an improper attitude towards Being again. It is to sit as Job, alone, looking down at the dust. It is to sit as Jonah, alone, listening for the first time. It is to face; to see; to finally turn towards life and realize that you were living IN fear, the same as you were living in air—not seeing the invisible atmosphere you breathed day by day; believing--breathing— not that you were chosen to blaze with light, but that you were chased by blackness; every breath a death rattle—a faint yet distinct wheeze to the world that the pitch or slant of your life would be forever downward, negatively sloped, and rearward facing; unwilling to turn and look into the void because of its blackness; knowing it would win—and then, to hear a ringing in the distance! Then, to rise out of the ashes and reject that life—turn from a life of fear towards the only thing left to face; turn towards the only fear that matters; turn and face the redeemer; then turn again on the axel of the world, dust off your clothes and proclaim to the old, familiar outlines in chalk behind, “I will never be him again! I will never be dead like that again!”
When there is only this to fear, all else vanishes.
Sometimes I feel the cold grip of that old life on my throat, and the terror that that was me, that that was who I was, is real. The only thing I fear is that I would ever forget for whom the bell tolls, and go back to the murder scene and lie down.
Is your life half gone?
“When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.”
That is the fate of the man who gained riches by unjust means.
It is speaking of false character and false spiritual wealth—NOT material wealth. That is exactly Jeremiah’s point. We think we understand the difference between material and spiritual worth. But we fail to understand that ANY worth we give to our “material world” (in essence, “what ‘matters’ to me”) comes from somewhere. We fail to understand that we siphon DIRECTLY from what really matters. We are stealing treasure from somewhere we can’t even see. And then, when we finally look back—because we sense the hollowness underneath—we see that our true treasure chest has been emptied out. We are like the baron stealing oil from underneath the preacher’s neighboring land in “There Will be Blood.” We are actually both those characters. The false preacher winds up empty; equally as impoverished as the oil baron.
Jeremiah is saying that when you polish your character (or soul) as a thing outside of you, and believe it can be improved and maintained by a false morality—you are LYING to yourself; stealing from yourself. The worth you stored up within material wealth built up over half a lifetime turns out sadly to be your worth—even worse, it turns out to be you! And when you reach out, it sublimates away because there was nothing there. You had foolishly poured your worth into thin air.
Do not miss the transition points:
"This is what the Lord said to me:
Go and stand at the all the gates of Jerusalem.
Say to the people, 'Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath Day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath. Keep it holy..."
This is a continuation of a previous thought regarding Christ--he whose life is indescribably described where two lines cross— as the invisible fulcrum on which all things pivot. He IS the Sabbath. He IS the doorway.
Jeremiah is making the connection that the Sabbath is an invisible door.
The Lord warns in Jeremiah: Do not miss the invisible transition points--these Sabbath Doorways. See them. Separate them clearly and with devotion: keep them holy.
This inability to maintain an attentive eye towards the relationship between things—to keep it holy—is a constant mistake committed by those who struggle with God. The unseen relationship between two worlds IS ALSO the doorway between two worlds, two realities, two stages of thought, two paradigms, two levels of consciousness, two lives. These transition points are thresholds. They are not simply a tether between one work week and the next or between outside the city and inside the city; they are an invisible door--a quantum wormhole hidden behind the wardrobe. A rift transporting between what is above and what is below, between heart and mind, intellect and faith, faith and works, emotions and reason, material and spiritual, a part and its whole, and a whole and its parts, and so on… They are a doorway to new and more accurate visions of the many worlds you inhabit. In them and through them you discover which world is greater and which is lesser, which world is outside and which is inside, and which world sits within which. And so God does not take lightly the mistake of ignoring the background in lieu of the foreground, or vice versa, ignoring the foreground for the background. You need to see both. Regularly, rhythmically, cyclically—at the frequency of life, you need to see both. But if you never find the doorway between two worlds, then you are forever trapped in one. So what now? How can you find a door you can’t see? For it is only by seeing the doorway as separate from your current reality—by keeping it holy— that you may truly walk through it.
Jeremiah hints the answer to seeing invisible doors is related to not carrying a load--unburdening, letting go-- as you pass through. You can't bring anything with you. He describes these holy transition points as the Sabbath and the city gates, and commands the people not carry a load on or through them respectively.
He warns! He raises his voice and his fists at the city gates! He warns that your constant resistance—your consistent pushing or pulling in one world—allows these vital thresholds to other worlds to slip past unnoticed. If you push-on through, then you miss the keyhole. If, for example, you never put down your load to crossover from the outer world to the inner, then you will miss the threshold; never even realizing your sandaled foot passed for the briefest of moments through something called an inner world at all. In your constant striding from peak to peak, stepping right over the valleys, you will notice neither the heights at which you walk nor the depths beneath your feet. If everything’s resistance against a load, then the Sabbaths fade away and everyday is Monday. And, then, there really is no change. Jeremiah warns: when you carry a load from outside the city to inside, then no matter which gate you cross, you never really enter it. It is only in unburdening the weight of…of whatever, of “being you,” that you may see between, see how things relate, that you may see clearly the invisible door and walk into the city of God.
The answer to why we ask, “how are you?” is not surprisingly found in the reply: "good;" or "not good." How you are is a question of form; attitudinal position in the universe; the constellated shape of our lives. And, somehow, the shape you are in is fundamentally related to value. Maybe the better way to say it is that form IS value. "How" is asking your relative position on the value scale; which is nothing more than asking where you are currently “hanging on the cursed tree.” That being the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: the TOTKOGAE. “How” is the world that is not you—which is both external AND internal. And your relationship to this cosmos—the “shape” of your cosmos—determines value; which is like weight or anything that can be set on a value-scale.
“Why are you,” on the other hand, is a question of purpose; of meaning. And the reply at the most honest level is often, “I don’t know.”
It is “off the scale.” Outside of the TOTKOGAE.
So, in purpose: unknown.
In form: known; good, or bad.
In value: snap replies, knee-jerk judgements. quick answers.
In meaning: slow, difficult, opacified.
“Why” is somehow in the present; at the burning line facing forward into the unknown.
“How” is instantly hung up on the past; turned back like a pillar of salt (in fear) from the unknown.
“How” seems like it matters, but it doesn’t. “Why” seems like it doesn’t matter; but it does. “Mine is not to reason why...” IS actually the “great WHY” : stop reasoning. Stop having reasons. “Why” is action. “Why” is doing. “If you do well, will you not be accepted?”
“How” is reasoned, but usually naive. “How” is definite. Finite.
“Why” is irrational. Indefinite. Unlimited in strength and power. “How” caps off at “Great!” at the top and “Awful!” at the bottom.
“Why” never truly changes.
“How” never truly stays the same.
“How” clangs like a lie.
“Why” rings with truth.
"How are you" is parts.
"Why are you" is whole.
"How are you" is in relation to the image of man.
"Why are you" is in relation to the image of God.
"How are you" is disunity. Us and Them.
"Why are you" is unity. Me, us, and God.
"How" is comparison, judgement
"Why" is acceptance, salvation.
"He who has a 'why,' can bear almost any 'how.'"
“How are you?” All I know is...I can see.
“Why are you?” I don’t know. I am to help the blind. I am to give all I have. I am to love without a reason.
The man who gets rid of an evil spirit by cleaning his house and putting it in order...
When the pharisees say, “Give us a sign,” it is actually an attempt to get God to explain himself; which is equivalent to getting the unknown to explain itself. If the God of the unknown has to be inexplicable, he should at least be rational about it. Because what the pharisees (and us) secretly want is a God who fits nicely into a corner of what we already know.
We demand the unknowable God step into our preexisting paradigm (which is nothing more than the known; “a man’s house;” our conscious ego structure) and explain himself—in an amazing way—sure!—but certainly only on my terms. This type of conscious attitude toward what we don’t know has the ironically unconscious result of soothing our ego and explaining away any uncomfortable paradoxes erupting from the mouth of this sudden sojourner between our conscious and unconscious lives. We ask for some explaining; but really we just want to explain (him) away.
That way we don’t really have to deal with him.
It is just the same way with the darker side of the unknown. We want to sweep the “evil spirits” we refuse to see about ourselves—but can vaguely sense—far way; back into the unknown desert of our unconscious and pretend they no longer exist. Oh, but they exist. They are alive and thriving.
This is the problem of the brood of vipers—those who are “worse off than before.”
It is a description of how we unfortunately deal with unconscious elements in our lives by rationality—by rationalizing. We think we can rid our conscious lives of the dark spirit we cannot see, but vaguely sense, by ordering, explaining, and structuring the little we can see: our knowledge, our ideological house. We get rid of all unknowns—all grime and paradox. We think ourselves, not only into a corner, but into a sterile and empty corner. We let our rules, reasons, and worldview do the work of shielding us from the truth. “I’m good,” we say naively as the darkness beneath us grows. The man’s “broom” that sweeps the house clean in Jesus’ warning is similar to King Saul’s armor: a false knowledge giving false security. A false morality to set aside, untouched, while the taunting giant is steadfastly ignored.
Evil loves this.
The evil spirit multiplies in the arid soil of our blindness and false morality.
But it can not stand water. It can not stand the water of life that penetrates deep into the earth revealing the truth about ourselves with ruthless tenacity. The evil spirit does not like the vivid green of abundant life. By honestly seeing and confronting the evil spirit within us, we somehow invite living water--spontaneous life--along with all its paradoxes and fecundity, into our conscious existence. It is to open our house to a redemptive relationship with all we can sense, but cannot see. It is in really having life within that explains life without—not polishing our knowledge and putting it in order. One way explains everything, the other explains it away.
“And he was worse off than before.”
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.
Apocatastasis: starting over; restoration of an initial state.
Jesus is the alpha and the omega--the omega and the alpha.
The Redeemer bends the straight line of time and experienced reality into a circle or a horseshoe. In this reality, the end and the beginning actually look at each other. They are the closest to each other. And it is the figure of Christ which crosses that divide. It is the rebirth. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “I know how to get where you want to go, but you can’t start from here. Anywhere you are on this circle is further from the place I am, and the place you should be. The closest place to the end is the beginning.”
Except ye become as little children.
Jesus connects things:
Like Sunday connects Saturday to Monday.
Like the rest connects two notes.
But not only does He connect things, he is also in the things he connects. He is in all, and yet he remains hidden to us.
It might be that our ability to see Jesus holding the world together at all, is precisely through His invisibleness at the fulcrum of things; at the hinge of events; at the transition points; at the center of the cross. Those places where life pivots are supposed to be pivotal, but they are often places we don’t notice (and ignore at our peril) because they sit in between one thing and the next. They are the valley between two peaks and the peak between two valleys—or as the Lord himself laments: “at every high place and under every spreading tree.” They are at the crossing of two events—two lines of thought. At the axis on which our world turns, although not visible or audible, He is nonetheless always there. Even in his body on the cross I can see his hands, east to west. I can see his crown of thorns and his feet—north to south. But at the intersection, it is his unseen heart that is truly on display .
When we disconnect—when we disconnect one event from another, one life from another, inside from outside, intellect from faith, church from state, emotions from reason, spirit from law, breath from prayer, news from good news, alpha from omega, first from last and last from first—we are leaving relics of idol worship at all those critical junctures, casting lots for Jesus’ clothes, trying to separate a seamless robe, desecrating the cross.
Strangely, Jesus is also the great separator: “brother from sister, mother from child”
In His moment of visibility to the soul; He cuts. He is both cut in two, and cuts in two. He is separated and separates. And in that separating, He joins anew what was previously un-joined. He connects again what had been disconnected.
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 afterdeath, which is today, than afterlife, which is tomorrow.
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.
The profound questions to answer are not “what is the problem?” And “who am I?”
Rather they are “who is the problem?” And “what am I?”