just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Finding the Divine Beyond Words

Published on 15/06/12
by randy

Language is a system of arbitrary symbols used for the purpose of trying to communicate with one another.  The problem with arbitrary symbols is just that…they are arbitrary.  Yet, for centuries we try to push the notion that meaning is in the word.  In fact, meaning is in the person.  An entire field of linguistic study, General Semantics, is founded upon this.  When I speak of my experience of the Divine, I’ve left that experience.  Language removes me from the experience of the ultimate as I enter my thought patterns.  The felt sense of God is somehow lessoned as I move from the heart to the intellect, trying to capture that experience with words.  Further, I can never repeat that experience and you can never have my experience, as hard as we may try.  I have my experience.  You have yours.  You have your experience of my experience and I have my experience of your experience, and on and on it goes.  With billions of sensation and perceptual events available, there’s simply no way we’d ever come to the exact same experience, no matter what.  Yet, our heart knows something the intellect and language can never come to.  It knows the experience of One, of the felt sense of being held within the non-separable God.

“Their heart may be said to be the interpreter of God’s word.  Listen to the heart, it interprets his will in everything that happens.  For divine action secretly informs the heart of its purpose through the instincts rather than through the mind, indicating them either by chance happenings making the heart respond at random, or through necessity in which case there is no choice, or through impulses to which there is an instinctive response.”

“It is like a musician who combines long practice with the perfect understanding of music, who is so immersed in his art that everything he undertakes connected with it will have a touch of this perfection.  If his composition were to be examined, it would turn out that they conformed perfectly to the conventions and that he was most successful when working unhampered  by them—so much so, that connoisseurs would hail his impromptus as masterpieces.  For convention, if followed too closely, restricts talent.”

  1. 38, the sacrament of the present moment

Brother David Steindl Rast says that when dealing in paradox, we’re likely dealing with the divine.  de Caussade writes:

“Without rules, nothing more orderly; without preparation, nothing more profound; without skill, nothing more accomplished; without effort, nothing more effective; and without precaution, nothing better to adjust to whatever may happen.”  p. 39

This is a depth of living that gives us courage “to be”.  It provides the nourishment to face uncertainty, to enter ‘I don’t know land’ with humble confidence.  The willing hearts come under the influence of divine action, “whose power over them depends on the extent to which they have surrendered themselves.”  p. 32

Katagiri Roshi calls this “whole hearted” action.  While our intellects crave understanding through words, there is no perfect understanding.  There is just an accepting of “profound awareness of something that is greater than the intellectual world.”  He writes:

“To digest means to take care of your everyday life by totally accepting that there is something greater than the intellectual world.  How do you do this?  Through everyday life that is impermanent, you have to actually touch something deep that is eternal.  By making your body and mind calm, you can go deeply into the human world and touch your life profoundly.  Then you can feel what is eternal, not in an intellectual or philosophical way, but in a practical and realistic way.”   p. 218  Time is the Universe

He further speaks to the beauty of quality living from the whole heart when writing:

“We don’t believe that our life is walking on the bottom of the ocean because we are always living on the surface, hanging on to the past, present and future.  We think the bottom of the ocean is something other than daily life.  But we cannot ignore the fact that our life in the stream of time is constantly changing.  It is constantly changing because it is manifested from moment to moment at the pivot of nothingness.  So if you want to live your life to really work, then whatever you do—dance, art, painting, photography, or sitting zazen–your life must be swimming on the surface, and simultaneously it must be rooted, walking on the bottom of the ocean.  That is living wholeheartedly.”  p. 81 Time is the Universe

He speaks of an emptiness where we let go of fixed ideas ‘in order to go beyond them’.
Real living, when being/doing merge, is when ‘you become one with your activity, whatever it is, and do your best.’  Katagiri says, ‘When you see yourself, your activity, and your body and mind in the realm of emptiness, occupying the whole universe, there is oneness.’ p. 53  This experience is found in the heart, beyond words and the intellect.  Some call this the food of faith.  Katagiri calls it Big Hope, that which is beyond the arbitrary symbols of language.  My heart resonates with the linguistic symbols of God and Jesus.  This meaning is in me.  We all respond differently to these words, given our necessary different life experiences.  While we support one another by trying to communicate the spiritual experience as best we can, ultimately, it seems the best we can do is sit in silence, breathing the same air, in gratitude for this gift of being, this opportunity to share life with one another, outside our intellectual notions of time and space.  This is peace.  This is hitting the mark of kindness.  I truly believe this is the will of God…of divine Providence.

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