A First Sketch of Some Questions I Need to Work With - Philip McShane - 3 Oct 01

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Some beginnings and musings (not really questions, just ruminating with a keyboard...)

Finding the fundamental place of dwelling and of truth: a question about paths. It seems fairly clear to me that the question that concerns me is not answered from the intellect. I expect something to show itself or to become clear in ongoing life.

So what is the place of a theology here?

Well, there is the problem of the different voices raised in answer to the fundamental questions about human being: there are philosophical voices (the ancient Greeks... Then in recent philosophy I think of the rather difficult case of Heidegger, who before his dubious and never talked about involvement with the Nazis, looked like a great figure announcing something about human being.... Then I think about the response by Levinas...); there are then the voices from the East (just sit) and the prophetic voices from Israel and the voice of Christ: the voice of God in Revelation.

If, as I think, there is no settling of this kind of matter in purely intellectual terms--there is no argument that will constrain--then is there a practice that will lead further? Is there a way, is there a path? And here the East seems to say there is (just sit) and Christianity seems to say there isn't: it is pure gift: even the beginning of faith is pure gift (see the debates about Pelagianism)--so no path, but a call, and a following in discipleship.

Is there, then, just a living out of the fundamental place... in the forms that we find most convincing, that are themselves the presence of that in which we are embedded ("in whom we live and move and have our being" as the sixth preface for Sundays has it): the Mass, love one another, mercy, faithfulness, forgiveness, praise and blessing? And what is to be expressed: words of love and comfort, that are the fundamental place becoming present to one another...

to be continued...

-- Anonymous, October 03, 2001


Response to A First Sketch of Some Questions I Need to Work With

And maybe there is a kind of attentive listening which is also part of the expression out of that fundamental place. I think as we try to match up our words to our experience we will begin to find that words like "love" and "mercy" and "praise" will be like sand for the nomads - needing to be more fully described, more finely cut, to grasp what our experience already holds.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

Response to A First Sketch of Some Questions I Need to Work With

Philip, I think if there isn't a path, there is a tunnel burrowing underneath all the intellectual stuff. At the end of this tunnel is the 'Light'. Our job is to negotiate the tunnel together, constantly moving towards the 'Light', using, for the benefit of the journey, whatever intellectual matter seeps through to us. Both the living (the being in the present moment) and the intellectual (study, reasoning, knowledge, memory) are important. Each is impoverished without the other. When you say "Is there, then, just a living out of the fundamental place...." the 'just' seems to devalue that life, lived out of the fundamental place. Maybe our inderstanding of -fundamental place- is different. Mine is life as it is now, in the present moment, lived to the full. For vast numbers of human beings who have walked this earth since the beginning of time, and who are on earth today, all they had and have now is the opportunity, the gift, to worship their god, love one another, be mercyful, faithful, forgive, praise and bless. It seems to me, most people are negotiating the darkness of the tunnel without the benefit of much knowledge. Maybe, in the tunnel, is the place to be! Maybe it's just where I am. AM

-- Anonymous, October 13, 2001

Response to A First Sketch of Some Questions I Need to Work With

The image of the tunnel is one which Colum McCann has used almost mystically in his novel "This Side of Brightness". At the beginning he describes the immigrant workers in New York who go underground to dig the tunnels for the new underground system in the still developing New York City. The scene is way underneath the Hudson River. At the head of the tunnel, locked into a pressurized section, are an Irishman, an Afro-American, a South American and an Italian. An air bubble begins to rise through the clay overhead. As the Afro- American tries to stop any more clay from giving way he begins to be sucked up with the air bubble into the earth overhead. His mates hold onto him and they too get sucked up with him. Meanwhile, crossing the Hudson River is a ferry full of people who see all sorts of wood and broken things suddenly bounce up out of the water. Then come the men, thrown up out of the earth, like some form of new Creation, and them all cut and bruised and gasping for air. The image is a magnificent depiction of what can be achieved out of depth, and even by accident. The power of (my words) God to raise us all up out through the elements, not without incumbent suffering, from the tunnels that we spend much of our lives hacking away at.

-- Anonymous, October 17, 2001

Philip your piece on Prayer and Meditation (on paper 31/02/010) prompts this You also say on 03/10/01that “the question that concerns me is not answered from the intellect”. I agree with this. I believe that the rational mind has been allowed too much influence on Western consciousness. The rational mind is a servant not the master. It diverts attention into useless detail and creates opportunity for intellectual Ego competition. The Truth is the casualty. The Truth is simple and is available to the ordinary person. It comes to us naturally and intuitively. We need to negotiate a more useful role for the rational mind. A role that it will be more comfortable and effective with. That role is to deduce the practical implications for me of living by the Simple Truth. The rational mind need not concern itself with pioneering the actual search for Truth because in this endeavour it is not playing to its natural strengths.

Please look at the Three Dimensions Of Human Experience Graphic that I presented on 2nd November. The Truth is to be discovered by going to The Place Within. This is the Place where Spirit, Mind and Body are in harmony and access to peace, wisdom and power is gained. It is here that I realise Who I really Am - the true purpose of meditation.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

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