Picture of cow-pat.
The cow-pat points to non-thingification – some non-God talk
‘God’ said Boehme, ‘is called the seeing and finding Nothing (RP No-thing ?)….because it is inconceivable and inexpressible….. Rilke simply reports on the poetic phenomenology of the innocent ‘outgazing’ proper to the child, against which the child is systematically educated. Culture teaches man to ‘be opposite’, to stand against objects, and to never be anything else but a subject confronting objects:
Always facing creation, we perceive there
only a mirroring of the free and open
dimmed by our breath.
The animal simply ‘gazes out’ without any consciousness of a centre which gazes.
…..its own being for it
is infinite, inapprehensible,
un-introspective, pure, like its outgazing.
Where we see future, it sees Everything
itself in Everything, forever healed.
We are the other hand have been ‘turned around’, and we are always aware of ourselves as spectators. This spectatorship is a wound in our nature, a kind of original sin (here Rilke is in the Christian tradition of the Church Fathers and the Mystics), for which ‘healing’ is urgently required. Yet we refuse healing because we insist on preserving our status as spectators. This is the only identity we understand. Once we cease to ‘stand against’ the world, we think we cease to exist. (RP this is the source of Fundamentalism – see last two chapters in Terry Eagleton’s After Theory). Furthermore we manipulate the world as we contemplate it, we arrange it to suit the whim and yearning of our vision. pp 78-79 Thomas Merton on Zen
The above is the sense in which it is true to say ‘I am God” about which Bede Griffiths is concerned where he says;
If I am using the ordinary language of rational thought then certainly I am not God, and to say that this world is God is as false as to say that it exists of itself. If I try to find the words to express that transcendent Reality, I have to use images and metaphors, which help to turn my mind toward the truth, and allow Truth itself to enlighten it.
From Return to the Center by Bede Griffiths in The Essential Mystics p 216 by Andrew Harvey
COMMENTARY – RP
Within my understanding I, and you, are nothing but God – PLUS the illusions and false identity I/we have created via, as Merton says, the culture that shaped us and such negatives as cowardice and insufficient tenacity etc.
All of God’s Creation is a manifestation or emanation of Him/It/Her – everything from the most sublime scripture to the oldest cow pat in a ten acre field! But only the true Messengers of God, manifest without the crippling imperfections that we accrue. Life is a challenge to let go those imperfections and let God shine through. Nothing needs to be added, nothing needs to be searched for or acquired. We are perfect, complete, radiant, we are God – insofar as we let go those imperfections.
Saints are those who can live in that less egoistic reality – at least 51% of the time.
Within a panENtheistic view God is both absolutely transcendent and utterly immanent. Coming to understand that every atom in Creation is a gateway to Him is a matter of raising consciousness, a letting go of egoistic self. All of the ‘ten thousand’ things, as the Buddhists call the diversity of the world, point to that Whole, a Whole that we cannot thing-ify, name, or conceive of. Religion is the codification of experiences in encountering the Mystery of the Whole. The universal mysticism is the beating heart of all living religions. Scripture and poetic commentary are the inevitably failed attempts at expressing the ineffable, sublime though they may be.
Insofar as we let go imperfections we become purer manifestations of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. For this we need to remember that sacrifice is ‘to make sacred’ – not self destruction. Our individuality, our true self, is the admixture of names and attributes of God that we uniquely manifest – like the light reflected on water. The particular admixture is eternal because the light is eternal.
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountains and me,
until only the mountains remain.
Li Po (701-762)