I’m still on Jeremiah, nearing the end. I had this thought today (and is quite clear, to me at least, when reading him now): All throughout, Jeremiah is speaking about psychology and spirituality. He uses the outside world and circumstances of nations to directly point out the individual’s inner spiritual exile. He is exactly saying that your circumstances, all of them, as far into the wide world as you can imagine, are not telling you something about the state the world is in...they are telling you something about the state YOU are in, as deeply IN as you can imagine. These are the same thing! Jeremiah sees no difference between the two.
Left and Right—the whole crowd is at fault.
(Parallelism to St. Paul in the Castle barracks in Jerusalem in Acts 22)
Even when the left has you by the scruff of your neck and the right has the gun at your temple, there is no more joyous place to be than directly in the center of God’s will.
It is a story about you.
It begins with a boy who lost his shadow.
This is a parallelism to Christ’s warning about one evil spirit and the clean house.
The most unruly ruler believes rules get rid of unruliness. But getting rid of unruliness is impossible because ruliness and unruliness are like states of matter. They just are.
Unruliness is dependent on ruliness, just as ruliness can not exist without unruliness.
In the same way, it is wrong to say cleaning gets rid of dirt. Of course it doesn’t. In fact, it is just as easy to say cleaning makes more room for dirt.
Cleanliness does not get rid of dirtiness.
A set of external rules for right behavior does not get rid of wrong behavior. It does not do anything because it is just a concept. And a concept cannot do anything about something as real as evil. Or said another way, morality that has a motive to accomplish something, accomplishes nothing. It can neither create good nor destroy evil—if anything, it does the opposite. Rather, good and evil simply exist, in the same way high and low do—one only exists in relation to the other. The rules the ego learns to follow are not primary education. They are an epiphenomenon of existence. It is why it was essential that the Ten Commandments were inscribed by the hand of God Himself—not man. Just as it was essential that Jesus walk into the wilderness and stand in front of the mirror to face his brother—his dark self—Satan—not because he was told to do it, but because it was foretold by existence itself. At the very beginning, the moment man awoke to self-consciousness in the garden, exactly then, he beheld a core of poisonous fruit in his palm. From the tree that should not have been touched because it made the knowledge of God become the knowledge of man. The moment man ingested desire--wanting--value—he blinded himself to the only cure: to un-desire, un-knowing, un-holding.
The villain never really dies. He always comes back. By not speaking his name Voldemort only comes back with more horcruxes. So something else must be done with evil besides pretending its not there or it multiplies seven-fold. Somehow simply knowing of its close quarters in our heart, saps evil its power.
It is learning to live with dirt—incorporate it—accept it—in your life that makes a home livable.
An Evil spirit does not exist without the good. And good can not be understood without evil. It is in seeing this and incorporating this, that halts the multiplication of evil within.
Jeremiah 29:8 ff
“Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.
They are prophesying lies to you in my name.”
We who are in exile, hear what we want to hear...and then call that a message sent from God. But it’s not God’s message, it’s ours. The case is exactly this:
We mail a letter addressed to ourselves, then open it and are so amazed it says exactly what we were thinking that we say it must be from God.
But this is a lie.
God says, “I didn’t send that letter. You did."
Here is my message:
“Learn to live where you are now, in your exile, not the promised land where you think you should be. It is by always looking towards what you want instead of what is at your feet that you lost the promised land in the first place. When you shift what you should have into what you already have, you discover that any plans for the future do not do much for the man with no capacity for enjoying life right now, because when his tree finally bears fruit, he is unable to see it, eat it, or taste it. He can't even enjoy the fruit of his own labor. Because although he is there, he is no￼ longer there. He is already worrying about what to eat as his fruit rots on the ground around his feet.
If you really want to find me, I will be found.
The only way to find your way home is by accepting that you’ve lost it, because otherwise you won’t listen. It is the first step in discovering that the home of your imagination—the home your ego experiences (yes, even that actual address on the mailbox) is just a concept and not really home at all. It can be a hell-hole, a heaven, a haven, just one more frustration to bear, a way-station, a limbo, a hidey-hole...anything. If you can accept you have somehow lost your way home as you stand at your own mailbox, you begin to see finding your way back home is the point—that seeking your destination IS your destiny. In the same way, you can find me only when you accept you’ve lost me. Because then there is no more wasted energy on what you think is going on and what should be done about it. You will seek me with all your heart; in every nook and cranny; under every bush and behind every blade of grass; in every corner of the house; in every human face. And maybe you will discover along the way where it is you actually lost me.
Live first, plan second. Choose life—not your plan for life. You are not the plan maker. I am. I am the only one who understands how plans work and I know the plans I have for you.”
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.
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.
And everybody looks at each other to see themselves, to figure out who they are—what they must look like—on the inside. But they don't realize it; even as they unconsciously glance at their own reflections throughout the day. Everybody wants to see and be seen; to know and be known. Which means everybody is at once both blind AND invisible; both unknowing and unknown. Deep down everybody just wants to be here. Be alive.
But nobody sees these mirrors. Only vague shapes covered with cloth. With two tiny slits cut in the cloth for eyeholes. Everybody hides beneath their cloth; peeking out. Hide and seek. Can you find me? Oh, no! Don’t find me! I can’t find myself! Who are you? Who am I?
Cloth and two slits. And what’s important is to never let anyone discover who’s really looking out.
A couple of weeks ago I walked into the lounge where I work to get breakfast and I realized this about people and mirrors. There were two people on the other side of the breakfast table. They were studying. I had met them a couple of times already. Briefly. They were medical students. They were both girls. They were quiet, but tense in a “Boy, I just want to make it through another day,” kind of way. They looked at me. And I at them. Their eyes, peeking out of those slits in the cloth.
I see you. Who are you? Who am I?
I looked at them out of my own slits, sat down to start eating, and started talking about nothing really. One of the girls was Vietnamese. I told her I knew ten words in Vietnamese that were not curse words. “I know how to count one through ten.” I stumbled through them like a bad circus act. She said how her language barrier sometimes made it hard to translate the most complicated words, so she had to learn how to communicate difficult things using simpler words and come at the subject from different directions. And I was like, “I love that! That’s perfect!” We talked about how people really like to understand what you’re saying, and you can tell because their anxiety vanishes in the wind, and a smile pops out.
Our talking continued. I didn’t want anything. I just wanted to talk. We talked about life and what I learned about patients and people and myself. And how, not very long ago, I didn’t really like people, and I had gotten myself into a real hard place in life. And I was miserable. And I began to discover some things.
One of things was: I wasn’t very good at telling the truth.
The slits on my cloth ripped open a little wider. Letting in more light. Letting out more light. They’re looking at me now, you see. Staring. No one is moving. I talked about what not being truthful meant in my life and how it came to be that I began to see how destructive it was to my soul and to the the people I cared about. I talked about how you can have all these wants, and desires and goals and then wake up one day and somehow you’ve turned out to be a bad husband. A bad father. A bad human. A kind of “un-human.”
The opening in the cloth is gaping. I am emotional. They are emotional. One of the girls keeps dabbing at her eyes.
There you are. What do you see? Who are you? Who am I?
Pretty soon, the mirrors are uncovered. And now there are three mirrors all facing each other across a breakfast table—a holy space— reflecting endless patterns back and forth. Me you. You me. Light shining. Mind-boggling.
We talk about many things. I tell about how one of the things I think Jesus really offers is how to be a real human being. How to wake up and live. Right now. How to change from a wooden boy in to a real boy.
One of the girls says in a kind of awe, “What is going on here?”
And the other girl, the Vietnamese girl, says quietly as she keeps dabbing at the place her slits used to be, “I know, this is so…healing.”
What troubles you now…you who have gone up on the roofs and survey the chaos?
The water stored in the lower pool was the misguided hope for salvation in the southern Kingdom—the reservoir, the ‘Old Pool,’ between the walls. The sin (v14) that would never be atoned for “till your dying day,” was not looking to the One who made the pool—the One who planned it long ago. Do not seek salvation in that which was created, but in the Creator—not in material, but immaterial. Not in what was, but in what eternally is. The divided kingdom is NOT North and South—NOT science A and science B—that is wrong. The real divided kingdom is: Reason and revelation. The rational and the irrational. Physical and metaphysical. Science and Miracle. What is seen and what is unseen. Known and Unknown. To look for answers—to seek salvation— in reason, rationality, physics, science, seen, and known; is to borrow from Science A to patch up Science B. It is to “count buildings in Jerusalem, then destroy the houses to patch up the city walls;”(v10) and “when the defenses are stripped away from Judah,” it is to “look to the weapons of the Palace of the Forest.”(v8)
“Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for, “ says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”