a mediatation on significance
I understand one of the strongest motivations for religious living
because I have always lived with it – a desire to serve something
If you feel this — which in my writing I have almost always described
in religious language — for instance “we who have glimpsed Jerusalem”
— then in the back of your mind you are always looking. If you feel
it sincerely then you are subject to a lot of disappointments.
For instance — there is the friend who you serve out of recognition
of the value of friendship — who then interprets you as submissive
and attempts to dominate you.
There is the whim that you indulge in service to yourself (thinking
you are recognizing the value of yourself) that turns into an
obsession or addiction.
There is the lover who you serve in service to love who sees in you
something to feed their vanity, or mistakes your service as weakness
and scorns you.
There is the cause that you serve only to be exploited by the short
sighted aims of the organizations which surround that cause — such as
the Democratic or Republican party.
There are all the well meaning people who try to foist off their own
objectives onto you because they sense that you are looking for
something. There are the lonely and bored people who feed on you
because they are still larval and can do nothing for a while yet but
It is a barrage of humiliation and loneliness. It is the ultimate gauntlet.
But make no mistake — the feeling of transparency one has, standing
alone at 40 having survived that gauntlet is sheer radiance, is space
suffuse with light. The feeling of being available to open oneself
into the spring bloom of a field, or a thundershower, or a river. As
the barrier to artificial things has grown higher, the barrier to
reality has dropped almost completely away. Looking at things that do
not lie, increasingly I find myself not lying to myself about them.
I have never succumbed to a church, because I can see so clearly the
difference between an ideal and the people who set themselves up in
front of the ideal and claim to serve it. I see the corrupt politics
of the present day churches – and it is no great intellectual exercise
to project that backwards in time and into the guts and foundations of
all the major world religions. Why don’t more people see that?
Probably just the romance of origin. You know that public figures
today are corrupt and tend to project their own needs into their work,
even when the work is good. Why would not St. Paul be subject to the
same weaknesses? Or the people who made the original compilations of
his writings? Things weren’t different back then, at least not in that
I have succumbed to the romance of others, and to the romance of self
— but I’ve let go of both of these often enough — I get distracted
by them still, but not derailed — not today anyway. Other people are
just other people, I am just me, and the beginning was just the
beginning. There is no answer in any of these things.
And now coming through all of this, looming in the second half of my
life I can start to see the outlines of the influence of the romance
of result. The sin of the lust of result — the idea that there is
some completion or accomplishment that is available.
I have read that there is not, but now to actually start to see that
there is not — and that this is fine. To recognize the
pretentiousness of the desire to be significant — to be significant
is to refer beyond yourself — and you do not. To want to refer beyond
yourself is to want to take credit for what you are not, which can
only come from not knowing what you are, from knowing that what you
are is enough.
There is nothing beyond freedom itself that is served by keeping
oneself free. That it is a method and goal simultaneously, and neither
a method nor a goal, because there is nothing to do and nowhere to go.
Only without even a hint of despair.
Why would one go on a path who’s destination is the overcoming of
paths and destinations? (How is it possible, Parvati asks Shiva, that
I am one with you, and yet able to celebrate my oneness with you?)
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