10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
To organize is to destroy. ~Lao Tan, quoted by Thomas Merton in The Way of Chuang Tzu
“Neti, neti” is a Sanskrit expression from ancient Hindu texts. It can be translated as “Not this, not this.” The words are meant to express the inexpressible, what the Tao Te Ching calls the name that cannot be named, or the way that cannot be told.
We humans are dependent on language to think and to communicate, at least most of us are. The idea of something that is beyond linguistic representation can be unnerving. We like things labeled and properly categorized, from science to Tupperware containers in our freezers.
Nowhere is this more evident than in matters of faith. We choose one belief and reject another. We seek those who share the beliefs that we have chosen, and we form groups around these beliefs, excluding those who don’t share them. And then we argue, and even fight, to prove by might that we are right. Chogyam Trungpa called it spiritual materialism.
It’s so important to us to believe that we have chosen the right belief that we close our minds, and even our hearts, to thoughts and people who might threaten our inner security. We organize our faith until it’s safe and tidy. Until that which cannot be named or told is lost.
I just finished a book by three women – a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian. (A Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian walked into a bar.... No, that’s a different story.) These three women, who all lived in New York, were moved by the tragedy of 9/11 to begin a dialogue, a dialogue that was not safe or tidy. It entered the dark shadows of stereotypes and cliches, the Holocaust and the West Bank, the cross and jihad.
They called their group Faith Club, which is also the title of their book. And unlike Fight Club, the first rule of which is not to talk about Fight Club, they talked not only to each other but to their friends, families, and faith communities about Faith Club.
And what they found was their deep and true faith, not in a set of beliefs, but in the openness of their hearts and the willingness of their spirits, in the humility of not having all the answers, and in the grace of knowing that the answers weren’t so important after all.
If you can understand it, it’s not God. ~St. Augustine
related posts: Tapping of the Heart; The Way of No Way
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
St. Augustine's quote really makes me think. This book sounds quite interesting. Thank you for sharing it.ReplyDelete
Karen, It makes me think, too. It's one of my favorite quotes now. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I was brought up by Christian parents and grandparents and became a Christian as a little girl. I was brought up with a focus on Gods love rather than focus on rules and regulations neatly organized. Don't misunderstand, rules l have to live by, but they come as a result of living in His love. The main focus all my life has been that Gods love, Christs love is for all people, not only churchgoers or Christians. He loves us all. I have had friends of many faiths over the years. Pam xxReplyDelete
Pam, What a great distinction you make between God's universal love and the rules and regulations we often get sidetracked by. Thanks for your comment.Delete
The love of people and humanity is far more important than the answers - isn't it???!ReplyDelete
Spiritual materialism destroys: The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas asserts,
“If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you.”
Nancy, That is a sobering and inspiring quote. Thank you so much for sharing it.Delete
I really enjoyed reading this post. It was insightful and interesting. I think it is so important to b opened to what other faiths or non faiths believe. I think we can all come together as true brother and sisters and seek for the good that surrounds ours. I have always had great respect for the beliefs of others. We can all learn so much from each other. Indeed, we don't have all the answers.ReplyDelete
Thanks and blessings for this one.
LeAnn, Thank you for your lovely addition to the discussion. I know from your blog that you are a person of deep faith, so I especially loved learning more about your perspective. Thanks for commenting.Delete
This comment is from Jessica Mokrzycki, who is having some computer issues and asked me to post this for her:ReplyDelete
Wow, that sounds like an amazing book. And an important one! I think it's beneficial for everyone to look at the similarities that we all share, not just the differences. It helps us remember that we all have the basic needs-namely love.
Jessica, I think the authors would agree that love is the common key. In fact, they became very bonded with each other at a deep level. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Sounds like a book that I would like. Sometimes I get frustrated because I can't put my beliefs in to a neat package that fits into a particular church or religion. I love the quote by St. Augustine--very comforting to one who feels such a need to KNOW! I am trying to let go of that need.ReplyDelete
Tina, Wanting to know seems to be a human trait. I read that we are more fearful of uncertainty than we are of physical pain. Now that's something to think about! You might like Pema Chodron's book, Comfortable with Uncertainty--one of my favorites. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Beautifully written in the spirit of Unity! We just can't grasp with our human minds the "Mother of the 10,000 things.ReplyDelete
Thank you. I like the line from the Tao Te Ching that says: "The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of 10,000 things." Thanks for commenting.Delete
Interesting because I thought this post was going to be about neti pots. :) Spiritual difference have really been on my mind, Galen. So this post is so synchronous for me! I do have a certain set of beliefs and they don't tidily fit with new age trends or the law of attraction. I'm trying to find peace with this and will reflect more on your conclusion!ReplyDelete
Sandra, I thought about that, too--the neti pots! I would love to hear more about your beliefs. I find that I don't fit very well with some of the law of attraction teaching either. Hope we can keep talking about this! Thanks for commenting.Delete
When we put God in a box, we are not limiting Him, we are limiting ourselves. Love, as trite as this can sound, is the answer. When we choose, consciously, to love God and our neighbor, there can no longer be any barriers. I believe, with all my heart, that that is exactly what Jesus intended.ReplyDelete
Marvelous and inspiring post, Galen. Thanks for making my day!
Martha, You captured what I was trying to say much more clearly and succinctly! Thank you!Delete
Sounds like a book that I would love. Thanks for the recommendation!
Betsy, A friend suggested the book to me, and I'm glad she did. She is going to organize some discussion with some other folks who have read it and I'm looking forward to thinking about this some more. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Galen - this is an excellent post! Yes, Martha captured it:) but each part of your post resonates! Like Sandra, I too have been having some struggles with figuring out my faith and trying to determine how to treat my faith in relation to other faiths and beliefs. You reminded me to forget the spiritual materialism and keep an open heart and free spirit. Instead of judging and figuring out how to divide and stand apart, this book (and your post) reminds me to find common ground.ReplyDelete
I love the last paragraph which holds so much truth and wisdom.
Vishnu, Thank you for sharing your own struggle, which is common to so many of us. One of the things I appreciated about these women was their willingness to be so open with each other. They risked a lot to be vulnerable, to expose their shadow thoughts and fears to the light. That in itself is something we can all learn from. Thanks so much for commenting.Delete
There is something so transforming about open hearts! <3ReplyDelete
Indeed! Thanks for commenting, Jodi.Delete
I love the idea of the Faith Club. I read something recently about how we are moving toward more interfaith religious practices and away from the separation of formalized religions. I think this would have a very positive impact upon the world. We need to come together as one and realize how much alike we are rather than focusing on our differences.
Angela, That is an interesting trend. I think it would be revealing to take all the names off places of worship, and just see what happens when people show up to share worship together without labels. Thanks for your comment.Delete
It sure sounds like an interesting book to read. Recently, I learned that the sense of wanting to belong to a religious community is related to the "tribal" root chakra; while having a spiritual union with the divine - outside of doctrines and beliefs - is related to the crown chakra.ReplyDelete
Evelyn, How interesting! It makes sense when you think about it. Thanks so much for sharing that information. And for commenting.Delete
Galen: I love your spirit. You always accept, and never disparage. I can readily accept that doctrine, no matter what we choose to call it.ReplyDelete
JJ, It doesn't really matter what you call it, does it? Thanks for your kind words.Delete