Last week we discussed spirit, purpose and meaning. It is transcendence that can lead to spirit, purpose and meaning. What is transcendence and how is it attained? I mentioned last week that there was no more transcendent life than that of Jesus. He is our best example because of his unique God conscientiousness, which was obtained by him staying connected to God the Father, and by that I mean connected to the earth and all of creation. His spirit and God’s Spirit were one.
The transcendent nature is evidenced by attaining the ability to love your enemies, being willing to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, being able to see with spiritual vision, understanding one’s unique calling and purpose in life and through that purpose creating meaning not just for one’s self, rather others as well.
The transcendent life follows a path that is very easy and at the same time extremely difficult for most of humanity. Not because the path is difficult in and of itself, rather it is made difficult because human beings are so easily distracted because of our innate curiosity and proclivity toward adventure and discovery. Nothing is wrong with these natural inclinations as long as one remains aware and objective. But there is the rub.
Remaining aware and objective means you must be ‘awake’ and you can only remain ‘awake’ if you are not lulled to sleep by a myriad of distractions. There are natural distractions in any environment, from the loud garbage truck early in the morning, to a baby crying on an airplane, to that beautiful sunset that caused you to take your eyes off the road for just a moment causing you to plow into the car ahead of you. Then there are the purposeful, largely artificial distractions created to exploit our natural tendency.
Music is the most obvious. As wonderful, beautiful, soothing as music can be, it is also the most powerful of all distractions. We can lose ourselves in the sounds and lyrics for a time and we are fooled into believing that for a time, all is well. We have all heard the adage, music can soothe the savage breast. However, it does not change the savage nature.
In today’s world distractions take on just about every form, from amusement parks, to movies, to romance and fantasy novels to gambling. All of these distractions place humanity in a state of hypnosis or sleep. They disconnect us from what is real and transcendent. It is the disconnection from what is real that causes so much of the suffering in life. Don’t think for a moment that this is leading to the conclusion that one should live a monastic life, free from physical distractions. Ultimately the greatest distraction is within your own mind. No, no monastic life proposal here. A monastic life can be just as distracting as living in the world. Instead you must awaken from your self imposed sleep and reach a state of awareness that leads to an objectivity, which allows one to respond to the world rather than react.
The most powerful moments of awareness in an individual’s life are moments of wonder, often manifested in questions like, why and how did I get here? Or when overcome with awe at the sight of the birth of a child. Sometimes it occurs in the middle of the night when you awake to a an overpowering silence, so quiet you can hear the universe breathing and you wonder, how can this all be? In these moments you are aware that you are living a miracle. You are truly connected to the infinite whole. Distractions are the opposite of this. In our built environment we have swopped comfort and convenience for our natural connection to the universe as a whole. We didn’t have to do that. They are not mutually exclusive. However, powerful things that can be used as distractions deceive us into believing that the counterfeit is real and the real counterfeit. Worse still, they lull us to sleep and we are no longer able to see the universe for what it really is. Whether it be music, a roller coaster, recreational drugs, or a video game, distractions rob us of a transcendent life.
Because the transcendent life is a centered life, free of distraction, but connected to the infinite whole, it is a life of peace, joy and contentment. But what is more, it is a life that is able to face the many challenges that life brings in a calm and dispassionate manner. It is a life that responds to reality, because it can see reality, rather than reacting as a blind man would in a cave surrounded by bats.
Even meditation, which is the key to attaining a state of awareness and calm objectivity has been corrupted and turned into a distraction. The chanting of a mantra to reach a state of mental bliss or a kind of high is no different than a recreational drug, or any other distractions that seeks to make things better by altering reality. Such things are designed to keep one asleep. True meditation leads you to God centeredness, connects you to the infinite whole, and what is more makes you self-aware so that whatever may ail you can be healed spiritually, especially if you are mentally tormented. Like anything else, it takes practice. Since I’ve already spent an entire post and essay on how to meditate, I will simply link this blog to the previous post, or post it separately.
Spirit, meaning and purpose are created by living a transcendent life. They are not things or objects that can be bought or sold in life’s marketplace. They are realized as you live a life connected to the infinite whole, to which we are all born. The poet, William Wordsworth, in Ode on Intimations of Immortality noted in the opening lines of the poem:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and freshness of a dream.
In the poem, Wordsworth went on the lament how as he grew things changed and the glory began to fade. He was describing what we all experience. We are born strongly connected tot he infinite whole, but as we grow distractions mount, we are tempted from our God centeredness and before we know it the glory and freshness has faded away. We fall asleep. Blind to the reality that surrounds us.
So I challenge all of us to awake so that we can all begin to see once again and proclaim:
The Glory of God Forever and ever,
Categories: God and the Universe