This morning I kept hearing echoes of what I wrote in yesterday’s posting, “One thing the world desperately needs now is less religion and more spirituality.” I’m part of the world, so I’m talking about me. Before my habitual morning meditation-time I walked to a bookcase, searching for some spiritual inspiration.
My eyes scanned the shelves holding the many books I’ve accumulated over the past thirty-five years or so: I’ve got several feet of Zen Buddhism, about the same of Rumi/Sufism, a yard of Sant Mat teachings in various guises, lesser but still substantial shelf space for mystical Christianity, Judaism, and Taoism, gobs of hard-to-classify New Agey titles, some belonging to me, others brought into our household by Laurel.
After thumbing through a few well-thumbed books, a small still inward voice spoke: “You won’t find what you’re looking for here.” Yes. I already knew that. I just had to hear myself say it. I went back into my meditation chamber, an unused tiled shower that I’ve modified for consciousness cleansing, and picked up Brian Greene’s “The Fabric of the Cosmos.” (see "Books I Like" to the left) I wanted facts, not supposition; singular scientific truth, not multiple metaphysical theories.
Religions are to God as physics departments are to the laws of nature. Anyone who believes that the means of knowing is equivalent to the knowledge being sought is mistaking the road for the destination. Just as it is said that all roads used to lead to Rome, maybe all religions lead to God—if you travel far enough on them. But Rome isn’t the road, and God isn’t any particular religion. I’ll bet my soul on that.
We live in a fourteen billion year-old universe. Every religion, every spiritual path, every philosophy, is just a few thousand years old, at most. What was the word of God before there was human language? What was the experience of God before there was human experience? Physics knows that the laws of nature preceded, and are independent of, what this peculiar species Homo sapiens understands of those laws. Similarly, whatever religions can tell us about God is far removed from the creative power that led to the evolution of religiosity.
The Hubble space telescope is able to look far back into time, ever closer to the moment of the big bang (at least it will for a few more years, since the idiotic Bush administration has cut funding for the greatest scientific instrument ever made). No earth can be found there. No people. No human cognition. No concepts. Just reality, pure and simple.
Many mystics much wiser than myself say that our consciousness is capable of doing much the same thing: look back, or within, and have a vision of what lies far beyond the time and space with which we are familiar now. That’s what I try to do in my meditation every day, with decidedly mixed-success. However, the attempts are always interesting, the most fascinating part of my day. Maybe I will never reach the land of Ultimate Reality. But the lure of what lies beyond the horizon of my everyday awareness is so strong, I don’t see myself ever giving up on the search for that inner Shangri-la.