August 5, 2006
Today, Gagdad Bob talks about ‘knowing our place’ in our relationship with God. This sin’t as simple as it sounds. There are those who believe that we answer to God- and there are those that expect God to answer to us. Realtionships with God can be simple and pristine- or, they can be complex and convoluted. Gagdad has plenty to say on the subject- and in our collective (and brilliant) minds, today he is peak form.
His thougts, ‘God is a fisher of men, but first there must be a fissure in man where God can operate. Man is not a given fact, but a possibility, and the possibility of a divine-human partnership takes place in the transitional space between you and your highest aspiration–between you and your future self,’ are particularly thoughtful and reflective. A geologic fissure is more tenous than one might think- the forces that caused that fissure to open, can can cause it to close. The awareness of how and to where we focus those forces that reach deep within us, will determine the nature and scope of our relationship with God. Sometimes, to find oneself, one must overcome oneself.
Ah, here’s a good question from Sigmund, Carl and Alfred:
“You said, ‘the more human we become, the more divine, and the more divine, the more human–and humble.’ Are you saying that there is a kind of ‘yoke’ we must assume, to move ahead?”
Of course, I am not worthy of this question, for a good question is superior to any humble answer that can be given. Furthermore, the answer is the disease that kills curiosity, so bear that in mind. I never want to cure anyone’s curiosity, only aggravate it.
First of all, it is not so much the Great and Powerful B’ob who is suggesting that humility is a requisite of the spiritual path, as that nine out of ten saints, mystics, sages and assorted holy men agree that it is true. At least the ones in my revere view mirror. I believe that one can always tell a false teacher or cult leader by their hubris, grandiosity and narcissism. And their fee, for real truth is free, in that it will only cost you your worthless and blankrupt life.
As implied in your question, the equation works both ways. In order to know the divine, humility is a key that opens many mysteries. But as we begin to receive genuine gnosis (which simply means spiritual knowledge), we are humbled by it. At least in most cases. There are definitely situations in which an authentic spiritual gift is combined with unresolved narcissistic issues to produce a hugely (and dangerously) inflated ego. You saw this phenomenon a great deal in the 60’s and 70’s, in which Buddhist or Hindu gurus who had achieved genuine spiritual attainment in an isolated ashram setting were suddenly placed in a situation where attractive young devotees were throwing themselves at their feet. Oh, mama!
Maharishi, you broke the rules
You laid it down for all to see
Maharishi, oooh you broke the rules.
Maharishi, you’ll get yours yet
However big you think you are
Maharishi, oooh you’ll get yours yet.
We gave him everything we owned just to sit at his table
Just a smile would lighten everything
Maharishi, he’s the latest and the greatest of them all.
Of course, John Lennon later changed the lyric from “Maharishi” to “Sexy Sadie.” In Lennon’s case, he first projected his own unresolved messianic grandiosity into the Maharishi, and was inevitably devastated when he turned out to be all too human.
It is also important to point out that humility hardly equates with “low self esteem” or being a shrinking violet. To the contrary, low self esteem is just the other side of narcissism, and will likely produce the same results. Humility is really just accurate self assessment. It is seeing oneself as one is, not better or worse than one is.
There are spiritual types who mistakenly believe that by utterly abasing oneself or taking aseticism to absurd lengths, one can know God. Again, it is simply the reverse side of the same worthless coin: “Look at me–I’m so much worse than you, I must be the world’s greatest sinner ever!” (I think I’m starting to detect this dynamic in Mel Gibson–”I am God, I own Malibu” conjoined with “I am sick, the worst sinner ever, the man who pounded the first nail into Christ.”
This is also not to say that some humans aren’t better or higher than others. Again, very much to the contrary. The distance between a great saint and the average person might be as great as the distance between you and a dog. However, the distance between the saint and God is even greater–the saint knows this better than you do, hence, the humility.
Nevertheless, the great saint is also a warrior, a master of the art of spiritual warfare, of hand-to-hand combat without hands. I have no hesitation whatsoever in spontaneously bowing before these great souls, for they are earthly reflections of something much greater–like the night time moon that reflects the sun’s radiance. The real saint will not take advantage of your bowing before them–rather, they will bow even lower. In truth, every spiritual crown is a crown of thorns. Ouch!
God is a fisher of men, but first there must be a fissure in man where God can operate. Man is not a given fact, but a possibility, and the possibility of a divine-human partnership takes place in the transitional space between you and your highest aspiration–between you and your future self. This is a polarized space, and it is the polarization that creates the dynamic electricity. If you like, you can think of it as analogous to the sexual tension that fills the space between man and woman. There is a spontaneous, natural, innocent, and idealistic form of this energy, as well as many perverse and deviant versions.
In the past, I have written of religious perversions, of which Islamism is a particularly vivid example. However, political correctness, multiculturalism, victimology, and the counterfeit virtue of “tolerance” are similarly destructive spiritual perversions that cause just as much damage in the long run–perhaps even more, since the process is more subtle.
For example, the cognitively and spiritually bereft idea of multiculturalism causes Western intellectuals to honor totalitarians who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other barbarisms.
At risk of pointing out the obvious, is it not clear that tolerance is hardly “humility” or “accurate self assessment?” Rather, it is a wildly inaccurate assessment of the obvious superiority of Western civilization over Islam and other primitive and tribal cultures. Tolerance is indeed (to paraphrase someone) “the virtue of the man with no convictions.” It is not humility but moral cowardice, and as such, opens up a free space for infrahuman bullies to operate unhindered.
There is an increasingly overt unity between the postmodern left and the pre-modern Islamists, a tacit conspiracy between those who make a god of their religion and those who make a god of their irreligion, forcefully ill-luminating the emptiness at the rotten core of liberalism (yes, on the spiritual plane it is possible to be simultaneously empty and rotten, as the “new age” [or sew-age] movement proves).
Perhaps you have heard that the devil is not an atheist. Rather, he knows better than anyone that God exists. It’s just that he refuses to bow. In a similar way, the leftist reformer who wishes to save humanity easily succumbs to the temptation of exalting himself in godlike fashion above others. He always creates a tower, not a tree, and the tower enfolds while the tree of life radiates. There is no harvesting without cultivating the tree. Hey, I don’t make up the rules, I just follow them. God is a gardener, not a mason.
A properly functioning mirror is a humble object, for it reflects everything while “containing” nothing. But the mirror is also a marvelous thing, for without it, the reflected object seems to disappear. In some way, the object relies upon the clean mirror to reflect it and give it existence. Thus, the mirror is both exalted and humble. Likewise, the sun creates the visible light that we see, but is also the exalted source of those humble souls to whom the light is visible.
The purpose of true spirituality is to become deep. As a matter of fact, “depth” in any domain is a measure of soul and nothing else. To become deeply humble is simply to crucify what is base and unworthy in the personality and to create a space that will be filled “from above,” for while nature abhors a vacuum, God requires one. It is the crack in the cosmic egg that lets in the light. This is the real meaning of humility–of spiritual poverty. So if you want to believe in God, the yoke’s on you.