Category Archives: Creation Myth

Faith and Truth, per Carl Sandburg

 

WHO AM I?
By: Carl Sandburg

MY head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of 
universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I
reach my hands and play with pebbles of 
destiny.
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty

And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs
reading “Keep Off.”
My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive 
in the universe.

All of us have a body of thought rattling around our skull which constitute “truth” and is taken for granted.  This is a necessary, though in a sense specious, certainty that allows us to function in our consensually-validated reality.  But within the noisy “rattling around” in our skull, there are certainties and premises that need to be examined occasionally and Sandburg was telling us this is especially so with those posted with the sign, “Keep Off.”  Sandburg did not mean there are no “Keep Off” dimensions to our heart and mind but that we need to pay attention to this signage and occasionally entertain the notion, “Well, maybe I should look at that idea a little further?”  This is related to my often-cited favorite bumper sticker, “Don’t believe everything you think.”  One simple little example from my youth in central Arkansas was the certainty that blacks were inferior to whites.  There was no need to question it for it was a definite, and, “The Bible said it.”

I have watched so many truths fall by the wayside in my life time and have long since given up any faint belief that I own the truth, that at best there is some primordial Truth that lies beyond the grasp of our finite mind and that yes, in a sense that “Truth” even has us!  And if I ever start trying to explain that to you, flash the sign of the cross in my face and run away quickly as this is a matter that eludes the grasp of human cognition.  This “Truth” involves faith, but not of the escapist faith that is so common, but faith that there is a, “Divinity that doeth shape our ends, rough hew them how we may,” as Shakespeare told us.  And I personally think that those who are the most obnoxious about objectively knowing about that end…and usually the end for others…are doing the roughest hewing!

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Embedded in our Own Thoughts, Part 2

Embedded thinking, part 2

We are naturally embedded in our own thinking because thinking…at least in the West…is inherently linear.  But it is possible for those steeped in this “linear-thinking” to find the courage to “step back” a bit from that comfortable cognitive grasp of his world and in so doing find that his world view is finite but nevertheless valid.  This “stepping back” is the exercise of a meta-cognitive muscle that we have the capacity for but is frightening to use for one who has made an inordinate emotional/spiritual investment in the world view that circumstances has given him.  This is precisely what Jesus had in mind when he chided those who have “Ears to hear but hear not, eyes to see but see not.”  Jesus recognized that being conscious, that is being spiritually alive, involves more than simple regurgitation of a mind-set and view of the world that one acquired by accident of birth.  And, if I might speak for Him now, he is telling people like me who were “Christianized” by accident of birth that mindless regurgitation of Christian dogma and teachings…and doing so with like-minded souls…can easily find us amusing ourselves in an echo chamber, which, borrowing a line from Goethe, is  “like kittens given their own tails to tease.”

Thinking is linear because of our “fall” into the time-space continuum, or that which is known as “reality.”  In fact, in the Genesis Creation story, eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is an illustration of falling into “thought” which always bifurcates our world even as it “bifurcates” our selves.   At that point we have been “categorized” and begin to exercise a “categorical imperative” to carve-up into dualities what had been a unified field, creating “good and evil,” male and female, right and wrong, and…yes…even Democrats and Republicans!  Linear thinking has created this world we live in and perpetuates it….and may it ever be!  For without linear thinking, our world would crash and burn immediately.  But when linear thinking runs amok without the God-given gift of “the pauser Reason” the world will still face calamity; for, any phenomena carried to an extreme becomes problematic and even dangerous.  Ideological extremism illustrates for us daily what can happen when someone or some groups gets too carried away with their “noble” and “enlightened” ideas.

Meditation has helped me immensely on this issue.  And though my “monkey mind,” incessantly running to and fro and chattering without cease, it has been given pause and this “pause” has been pregnant, allowing me to open my heart to hidden dimensions of life.  With even my lame success at meditation I have learned more intimately that “embeddedness” in my own thought has been a cognitive prison and this insight…cognitive and emotional…has been redemptive.  And that “redemption” has allowed me to experience being “out of control” which has come to me as simple anxiety.  Of course, this “simple” anxiety is not “simple” at all as it brings me face to face with my own human-ness which is always experienced as vulnerability; Norman Brown noted, “To be, is to be vulnerable.”  And it has been fear of this vulnerability that has kept me locked in this cerebral prison, the escape from which is still in progress and will be in process for the rest of my life until at last I cast off this “mortal coil” and return to my Source.

I’m planning on this “transition” not taking place for decades!  For, “fallen” though this world may be, it is a beautiful world and I am increasingly delighted with the simple but profound beauty which surrounds me every day.  The only issue is, and always has been, “Will I pay attention?”  And, paying attention is relative to the meditative lesson of looking beyond the end of my nose, peering outside of that “small bright circle of my consciousness beyond which lies the dark.”  It is in that “darkness” that I see glimmers of light and these “glimmers” are the best that we can hope for. For these “glimmers” are the brilliant flash of light that we are blessed with when we find the humility to simply “see through a glass darkly.”