Living with the questions that really matter: part 3

This is the final reflection on the Jacob Needleman lecture that I listened to but I so like what he says including that we tend to live in such a small part of our psyche. He showed a sense of humour when commenting though that when delving into the depths we still need to keep conscious – the saying he used was a Sufi one: ‘trust in Allah but tie your camel first’. I think here he’s confirming the importance of the ego in keeping our feet on the ground.

The current reduction of everything to mindless processes…. and that includes the reduction of nature to the so-called facts of science denies that there is something greater. The something greater is nothing to do with religious dogma but it is the opening up the heart of the mind and our inner nature attracts the search for meaning in our lives though often we block it through superficial diversions.

He is interesting about the role of money in our lives and thought that money has to be taken seriously; there are two parts to thinking about money and the first is the material part which is how we live in the physical world and acknowledging how money is seen as so important in our current culture. The second is to search and reflect on the place of money in our lives and that is spiritual and part of the search for meaning. The trick is to live in the balance and the relationship between the two parts.

When he was asked what we could all do he replied by learning what it means to listen to another person. If we really listen and are present to the other person, or I also think any other creature or living thing then we are also feeding something in ourselves and it is the beginning of love. We are he says built to give and not to get and if we give then we are fully repaid by the universe – he speaks of unconditional giving. Giving is part of the meaning of life rather than having and holding on to what we have. He quotes the gospel here that we are given much to give much and so are serving something higher than ourselves whether it’s other creatures, the earth, and nature. He’s speaking I think of a generosity of spirit which is about an attitude of mind.

Meaning comes from experiencing whether this is sorrow or joy, love or hate, we’re born to experience and each experience offers us meaning and this is what we are born for – to experience something when you know what it is all about.

In another much shorter video he spoke again about how awakened human beings are needed in the world to act for God, and that people who manifest God are in themselves proof for the existence of God. And what is God… well it is the experience of something that is timeless and infinitely benevolent. He invites us to taste God and so taste this other level in our lives.

The whole
World is secretly on fire. The stones
Burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
Listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
When all their silence is on fire? 

From Thomas Merton’s poem In Silence