Tuesday, July 3, 2007

'The Word of God' and an 'Invisible fairy'

Fleming Lee has written a brilliant post on 'Flights of Pegasus' dissecting the many defects in the Bible. I always have wondered why this 'Book', actually consisting of many different works created at different times for diverse reasons should be categorised as a single work purporting to be the 'Word of God'. Some of these 'books' deal exclusively with the genealogy of an obscure tribe and others deal with wars of conquest and genocide. There are chapters and chapters of ranting and raving spewed forth by priests and leaders against their own people, their enemies and even against God. These books may be of interest to scholars, historians and sociologists but have very little to do with spirituality. Religion should be a spiritual matter, divorced of politics and history. The 'Word of God' could not be reduced to human language in any case.

It does not follow, however, that human beings cannot hear the 'Word of God' but it is something that is carried on the winds, on the wings of music and poetry, refelcted by the light of the moon on the water or the sun's warmth as it awakens plants and other living creatures.

The 'Word of God' is included in that book known as the 'Bible' as much as it is included in the Vedic Hymns, the Popul Vuh, the Edda and the Books of the Dead.
Some of the Psalms do provide glimpses of the Divine and the Song of Solomon and Book of Ecclesiastes contain gems as well. The Creation myth as retold in the book of Genesis, if stripped of its judgmental content contains some elements that hint at the nature of the Divine.

It is a mistake to take any myth literally. Myths, like parables, contain lessons for humanity but never were intended to be literal accounts of events. History often is included in myths but ancient people were able to distinguish between poetry and fact. Why has modern religion been unable to do the same?

In the context of Fleming's legal case for impeachment of Jehovah, one individual responded that this was an argument in favour of atheism, declaring that: 'There's a part of me that would absolutely love it if an invisible fairy were my special friend. I got over that.'

When I read that statement, I was saddened. There is a strange element in 'modern' and 'contemporary' society that insists on separating 'reality' from 'magic' or 'the supernatural'. A child is allowed to believe in magic, but adults are expected to 'get over it'.

I disagree vehemently with that philosophy. In fact, I could cite many philosophers, religious or otherwise who have stated the importance of keeping the child alive in every adult's heart.

Saint-Beuve declared that: 'Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young.'

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: 'To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.'

It appears to me that children are closest to the Divine, before their egos begin to obscure their vision. As adults we have a need to control and define our universe. A young child simply accepts his/her limitations and embraces the unknown, knowing there is an infinite expanse beyond the reach of his/her control.

It is ironic that one of my favourite quotes from the 'Bible' is preceded by one that has caused a great amount of damage to our civilisation.

From Corinthians I: 'When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.'

That is St. Paul, of course, a man pursued by his own personal demons to the point that he barely was able to retain his own humanity. He hated women and he had very little compassion in his own life. At moments, he did have some idea of the Nature of the Divine, although for the most part he surrounded those philosophical gems with hosts of petty rules and regulations, prohibitions and warnings.

I would agree with the writer who declared that: 'The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius.'

Pablo Picasso believed that the state of being of childhood held the key to artistic greatness, stating: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.'

Many philosophers and artists believe in exploring 'other states of consciousness and being'. Aldous Huxley and Robert Graves, among others, were driven to explore the 'other realms'. Children naturally are able to enter and exit other realms effortlessly. The world of the imagination is so real to a child and the veil that separates this world from the other is easily penetrated. It is only when adults and society tell a child that events, individuals or objects aren't 'real' that the child begins to distinguish between one sort of reality and another. I don't think that is a positive step, frankly. It may be important to distinguish between different types of reality but there is no virtue in ridding our psyche of the potential to explore other realms or states of being.

There are people who have made 'invisible fairies' a part of their adult psyches and their lives are greatly enriched by that. Life is a lonely affair, even when we are surrounded by people. Furthermore, the 'invisible fairies' created by writers and artists are some of the most beloved characters in every civilisation.


Fleming said...

Beautifully expressed, and so very true. The importance of remaining a child can't be overstated. I wonder if that may be the message in, "You must be born again." That is, to be spiritually aware and sensitive, and to have the creative qualities of an artist, you must regain the fresh and unsullied perceptions of a little child.

Pardon the reference to myself, but I wrote: "Childhood ends when life as discovery ends and life as repetition begins." You may not agree with the way I said it, but I think it is close to the spirit of your post.

I'm going to steal (quote) one of your lines to go with my next banana blossom photograph!

TidalGrrrl said...

Freyashawk: When I said that I got over wanting an invisible fairy I didn't mean to imply that I thought it was a childish thing. The world is beautiful and amazing enough in itself without having to prostrate at the feet of a nonexistent deity. I just don't need it.

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
-Carl Sagan

Freyashawk said...

Dear Tidalgrrrl: To each his or her own. Far be it for me to try to tell some one else how to live his/her life. Oddly enough, many of my closest and dearest friends throughout my life have been atheists. Although I would not define the realm of the unknown and the unseen as 'delusion', I would not presume to tell you what to believe! Your comment simply inspired me to respond with my own passionate belief in creativity and infinite possibilities that we may not be able ever to comprehend fully in our limited human state of being.

Freyashawk said...

Dear Fleming: I do agree with your very clever bon mot and I believe entirely that the statement that 'You must be born again' refers to the rediscovery of childhood's innocence and that almost infinite potential of trust and faith. There is another quote attributed to Christ to the effect that only those who become 'as children' will be able to enter the 'kingdom of heaven.' As Christ appears to have been influenced greatly by Buddhism, I would not consider this to be a wholly Christian philosophy by any means.

The 'kingdom of heaven' may be an actual place but it may represent a state of consciousness or state of being... or something we never will comprehend until we experience it. I would like to think, however, that it is within our grasp to penetrate the veil of the unknown a little in this life and I daresay I stubbornly will continue my exploration of these mysteries until I 'quit this mortal coil'.

Fleming said...

Freyashawk and Tidalgrrrl, when you posted on my blog, I wanted to say, "Now play nice!" I like both of you, and I'm glad to see that you are discussing your differing views here as I would expect you to -- in a reasonable way. I'm afraid I sound like a judge or a parent, but I can't think of another way to say it!

Freyashaw, your praise of my "bon mot" is extravagant . . . and therefore all the more welcome! If luxuriating in flattery and admiration is a sign of a low position on the spiritual ladder, I obviously have a long way to go.

Freyashawk said...

None of my comments ever are personal attacks. It rather surprises me that any one ever would consider them to be anything of the sort. Internet communication, for a start, except between personal friends, cannot be 'personal' in any true sense as neither party has any real knowledge of the other's lifestyle or character.