I love metaphors. And I hate metaphors.
Yes, a rose is a ruby reflection of ever-blossoming reality. And truer still, rose is a rose is a rose.
When it comes to religion, just about all we're offered is metaphors. God is like… Fill in the dots. Our father, our mother, our lover.
Heaven is like… Disneyland without the long lines. Everything good without the bad.
More and more I want the real deal without the metaphorical wrappings. Either say it like it is, plain and simple, or admit that you're just a metaphor-monger.
I still read a lot of philosophical, spiritual, and mystical books. But sometimes they make me want to throw up.
I start to gag on allegories and roundabout ways of saying nothing. Most disturbing are my own past attempts to describe what I don't know in words that only point to themselves.
Speaking of words, Rumi and I used to be best friends. In my own mind, at least. For more than a year about all I read was Rumi, Rumi, Rumi.
Somewhere I seem to recall a tale of him being asked, "Speak to us without metaphors." He said, "You're a metaphor of yourself. What else can I do?"
I thumb through my Rumi books now and wonder what I liked so much in them. But that bit about metaphors still speaks to me.
Heck, I may have made up the Q and A above myself. So maybe me is speaking to me.
One of the most oft-heard platitudes in the spiritual circles where I used to travel is "Self-realization before God-realization."
Sounds good. Start close to home. Nothing is nearer to me than my self, so far as I know (or don't know). So why is this self-realization business so darn difficult to transact?
Why can't I simply be who or what I am, minus all the metaphors of myself?
Some days I feel like… Fill in the dots. A physical being having a spiritual experience. A spiritual being having a human experience. A clueless being having a "what the #%$&@!" experience.
Here's another after-the-dots answer: None of the above, and who gives a shit anyway? There's a jillion ways to say "X is like…". None is true.
"It is what it is" supposedly was the #1 cliché of 2004. Whenever I hear those words I think, "That says nothing." And, "so true."
In his book The God We Never Knew, Marcus Borg quotes himself, saying this is a line made by a character in a novel he imagines writing.
Tell me your image of God, and I will tell you your theology.
Bork argues for a "spirit model" of God, rather than the "monarchial model" of modern day Christianity (and many other faiths).
But a model is still a metaphor of reality. Not the thing itself. If you want to go beyond theologies, images have to be discarded.
Right now some Sudanese Muslims want a British teacher executed because her class named a teddy bear "Muhammed."
Guys, a teddy bear is a lot more real than Allah or Muhammed. You should be hugging one rather than your religious fantasies.
If we're going to get excited about a heresy, here's a suggestion:
Death to metaphors! Stone those thoughts!
No more I'm like… , God's like… , Spirit's like… , Soul's like… , Heaven's like… .
A teddy bear is a teddy bear is a teddy bear. What is, is.
Remember, everybody must get stoned. Metaphors too.