Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The Way of Insight


Mystery opens to Mystery - The Way of Insight

Feb 12, 2020

How Intimate Can We Be?

*Brian Wilcox. "How Intimate Can We Be?

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Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your wisdom from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled it out clearly for little babes."

*Gospel of Matthew 11.25

These are the hidden (or, secret) sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymous Judas Thomas wrote down.

*Gospel of Thomas, prologue

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One fluttering leaf
awakened me to the Wind
One tick of a clock:
Suddenly! Eternity...
A drop of a tear on the cheek
immersed I was in the Sea...
Don't ask me how this happens
There are no words to speak of
such Mystery
What is the Way?
Only let it happen-"Recieve!"

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The Truth is hidden, or secret, in not being attained by mere, linear intelligence. One cannot get-smart his or her way to sacred Wisdom. No accumulation of knowledge equates to knowing, while one can have little knowledge and know.

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A common reference among Christians, proudly spoken, is that a Christian is a believer. Yet, one can believe all he or she wants and not be Christian, be Buddhist, be wise, be anything but a believer-all a matter of the head. Heart assent is vital, head assent does nothing to make one, not a believer, a knower. This is a reason I have said that an agnostic or atheist may know God, while not being a believer. Even the word "God" can be an intellectualized label, easily spoken by the mouth, while the heart knows not such a Lover.

So, how can Truth, or direct knowing be hidden, or secret? I note the following two meanings of secret, or hidden, as given in Joanne P. Miller, Zen and the Gospel of Thomas.

First, a close-fisted secrecy. Here, one consciously keeps one from knowing, by not revealing something. I agree with Miller in that this cannot be regarding sacred Wisdom. Life does not say, "I don't want you to know, I will hide Truth from you. I will hide Myself from you."

Second, secrecy can apply in "a nonconceptual, meditative style and method of encouraging insight of direct experience." Here, an example is the use of enigmatic sayings or stories called koans in Zen Buddhism. There are many koan-like sayings in the Christian New Testament and, also, in the Gospel of Thomas. A teacher, for example, may use paradoxical sayings, seeking to assist the aspirant to drop trying to intellectualize his or her way to insight, opening to knowing directly the Truth as a lived knowing within. The teacher wants the seeker to be a knower, not a believer. Here is "intuitive realization."

So, insight into the absolute Truth cannot be known in the relative, while the relative can prepare one to receive insight, or "in-seeing"-which is all but belief.

Hence, sacred Wisdom is "hidden" or "secret" in the sense of being only able to be received through, paradoxically, un-knowing. What I think I know, a product of thought, of inheritance from others, keeps the Truth hidden from me. Un-knowing does not mean that all I have been told about the Sacred is wrong, it simply cannot give me knowing of the Sacred. This even as words cannot hold the meaning connoted by the words; so, Arther Waley, a late scholar of the Tao Te Ching, is referred to by John Minford, in Tao Te Ching, as speaking of the Tao (or, Way) as "wordless doctrine." We could equally say, sacred Truth is the doctrine of the heart.

One could say to me, "You need to know what a rose is." I could read about roses, view pictures of roses, go to workshops about roses, get a rose guru, go to a rose church, wear a rose pendant around my neck, chant rose chants, ... Would I know what a rose is? No. I could, however, see a rose, hold it, smell its scent, and, thereby, say rightly, "Now, I know what a rose is." See, a little child, even an infant, can know what a rose is.

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Truth is not complicated, we have complicated our minds with all sorts of thought, thought that darkens the understanding. Truth is not complicated, we are complicated, and through simplifying life and mind, we welcome divine Wisdom.

A famous Zen tale highlights this simplifying for the veil around Truth to part, so we receive, thereby we can see, we can know. Here is one version.

A university professor visited a Zen master, wishing to learn about Zen. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and, then, kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup, until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's full! No more will go in!" he blurted out. The master said, "This is you. How can you been shown Zen, unless you first empty your cup."

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Zen teacher Suzuki Rosi coined the terminology "beginner's mind," or in Japanese shoshin. Here, one is, like one unlearned on any matter, open, receptive to learn, accepting humbly he or she does not know. So, the way to know is to admit not-knowing. Hence, Jesus could speak of persons imaged as babes, or little children, receiving the Truth. And, likewise, then, what is hidden is seen to be hidden; in this humble acknowledgment and posture of mind, what is hidden becomes known, for shown.

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The Truth is hidden in plain sight. Yet, it is seen by those who see that they do not see. As long as I know, I shall not know. Still, the Truth remains accessible, for as close to me as I am to myself. One moment of humble ignorance opens one to be graced with the direct knowing of the Ineffable and whatever the Ineffable reveals of Itself.

Does this process end? In a sense, no. For one cannot plumb the final depths of Life. We come to knowing, to return to unknowing. This as with human relationships, for the more we know someone, we welcome more unknowing of that someone. Mystery opens to mystery.

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By not-knowing, we know the Sacred, the world, and others in a more intimate way. Knowing about is knowing-at-a-distance, knowing is very close, is intimate. Then, Life and how it manifests becomes amazing, as Mrs. Turton introduced a seventh-grader, Suzy Swanson, to, in the children's reader The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin...

And I was pretty sure I liked Mrs. Turton, the seventh-grade science teacher. When we walked in the door on the first day, she wore an Albert Einstein wig and tried to explain that time moves at different speeds depending on how fast you’re traveling. I liked the way she made it seem like the world around us, even the normal everyday stuff, was actually kind of amazing.

Music video can be accessed on original site via below upper left artist-title...

(C) Brian Wilcox, 2020


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The Way of Insight

©Brian Wilcox 2021