Grasping A Lightbeam With Your Fist

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  In the book of Proverbs the question is asked: "Have any mastered heavenly knowledge? Have any, that is, 'put it all together' in an airtight and waterproof package? Be wary, the writer is warning, of any who make such claims.  

 The writer asks a series of rhetorical questions to make his point: "Have any caught the wind in their fists or gathered and wrapped up water in a piece of cloth?" Are there any, he is asking, who foolishingly think in this way? (Pr 30:4) What do you think?      

 Where, the writer is asking, are there people who claim they've 'caught the wind in their fists' or who have attained the remarkable ability to 'wrap water up in a piece of cloth?'        

 It is plain that the writer regards this kind of foolish surety as indictative of a lack of humility before Reality. These are folk who, as a contemporary philosopher has warned, 'believe their beliefs,' that is, who imagine that they have wholly mastered wisdom and theology, or who have, in the same manner, mastered an ideology of some kind. 

 What's missing in any of these cases is a reverential silence before That Ultimate Mystery before which the only appropriate response is to stutter and  stammer, if one can speak it all.     

 Perhaps you've met with the kind of foolishness the writer of the Proverbs is tackling.  I always try to give such beings a wide berth, for you get the uneasy feeling when they appear that an argument is coming or that you're about to experience a sales job.  

 In every age these folk are 'on the loose,' creating movements and coming up with sensational strategies to try to change everything by the always ill-fated notion that they can know something with only one part of their being, that is, with their heads only, while ignoring other dimensions of their beings. 

 As Jonathan Shimkin cautions: "We may be in possession, "of a most refined intellectual understanding and yet fail to touch or alter in the slightest our moral and affective life." (Jonathan Shimkin Leaving the House of Doubt, Darshan magazine, Knowledge is True Nourishment, Part One, #112, 1996

 The attempt is so often made to become the possessor of some external form of knowledge that grants to the bearer some kind of 'impenetrable armature.' The delusion is something like 'I've got it now' - 'the one true something or other,' which may be a theology, or an ideology, that has left one walled up in a fortress, without doubts or questions.  

 In this regard, unless it's your wish to be an ideologue or a fundamentalist of some kind, then "you must be able to continue to say," along with philosopher, Daniel N. Robinson, "that no matter how much this means to me, no matter how centered my being is on this pattern of beliefs, no matter how close I am personally and emotionally, and even romantically, to those who hold such convictions, I must reserve the right to question and to doubt.”  

 "I will retain", Professor Robinson continues, "this skeptical bias as an obligation owed to my own rationality, my own integrity.  I am prepared to follow the golden cord leading me out of the labyrinth, no matter how many twists and turns there are, because once I let go of that, my intellectual life is not my own.  Lose that reason, suspend that criticality, become gullible, accept anything that custom serves up, and you enter the life of a puppet on a string, the life of a slave." (Daniel. N. Robinson, Philosophy - Did the Greeks Invent It? - The Great Ideas of Philosophy p. 33)

 The writer of the Proverbs is saying that it's a problem - that something is askew - when you think you know what the limited mind cannot know.  He's taking on a certain arrogance or lack of humility. He's opposing that kind of false certitude by stating it is a vain attempt to grasp a beam of light with your fists!  

 For Divine knowledge is rather more like a beam of Light that flows through the human being because of an unobstructed, open and searching heart.  You cannot hold this kind of knowledge or contain it, just as you cannot hold a moonbeam in your hands!  

 There is a great insight from the ancient Upanishads that speak of 'Brahma,' which is a form of knowledge. Brahma is 'breath' or 'thought.' Brahma is 'power' or 'force.' Brahma is a kind of 'introspective activity, a 'communion' with the cosmic mind.' Brahma, "by its presence gives reality to things and gives reality to us, too."  (Daniel. N. Robinson p. 13) 

 The Upanishads say: "He who knows Brahma as the real, as knowledge, he obtains all his desires." (Daniel N. Robinson From the Upanishads to Homer, The Great Ideas of Philosophy p. 24) 

 That is, when the human being centers his life, or relaxes it into this 'force' or 'power,' (brahma) he will not be left wanting anything more.  

 As in Leesa Stanion's story of a particularly intriguing plant!

 Leesa one day noticed while waiting for an appointment in a busy, windowless office that "there was a lone, thriving plant that had directed itself gracefully up a wall and around a corner to reach for the sunrays streaming through a distant window down the hall." 

 Leesa describes it thus: It was "neither tall nor straight, but there was tremendous beauty in its bending and striving, in its dedication to itself and to the light.”  

 "This simple plant had met its maker, and I was struck silent by the radiant success it now enjoyed."

 For Leesa, it was a "symbolic expression of longing - that yearning for completion, union, Truth - and my heart cried out in recognition of how all life longs to live in the light." (Leesa Stanion, Pure Yearning, Darshan magazine, Striving For The Highest, #64, 1992)

 She continues: "As I was leaving that office a few hours later, I stopped abruptly in the doorway - the way you stop when you are on the verge of remembering something - and turned back to look again at the plant."  

 "For a few seconds I just stood still, puzzled, then I noticed that this was the kind of plant to not live long without light - surely it must have taken weeks for the plant to journey such a great distance to the light."

 "In that moment, with people brushing past me in the doorway, I began to consider the plant's long journey - knowing with a rather startling certainty that it was the act of reaching that I found so compelling."  

 As she contemplated the plant's efforts to be nourished by the light, she was led to the realization that the reaching of the plant towards the light was her deepest yearning as well.

 She recalled that enormously difficult period in her life when she had literally lived in the dark.  She had been recuperating from surgery on her spinal chord.

 Where she was, no sunlight reached the room. "I spent a lot of time motionless, in unrelenting pain, waiting impatiently for my spine's damaged nerve roots to heal, and watching the shadows dance and jaunt and leap about beneath the leaves and branches of several enormous trees."

"I ached to stand out there with the trees, and I longed to see the sun." 

 As the story goes, everything changed when a friend visited and brought her a picture of an enlightened being. The picture was placed in front of her window so that every time she looked out she would first see the picture of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. "Once," she says, "I was just lying there smiling, gazing into her eyes, and I realized that I felt happy and totally content."    

 Leesa calls the quest of the plant for the sun its pure yearning and realized that the deepest thing about her, too, was her own pure yearning.

 It was been said that when you are searching for God that the depth of your yearning is everything. I am reminded of the Psalmist who, in like manner, was in a state of pure yearning. The Psalmist prayed: "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after Him, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple."  

 Here is a way of knowing, that has everything to do with deep yearning and a search for the Divine. The Psalmist writes of 'seeking,' 'dwelling,' 'gazing' and 'inquiring.' His whole being is involved in the quest!  

 This yearning itself is a level of knowing. It is on an entirely different level than the kind of external knowing that the writer of Proverbs confronts. It is a level of knowing characterized by a vital inner search for the Light. 

What is being written about here is a level of knowing that has to do with being pierced and penetrated by the Light of God.  It involves the felt sense that the power and force of God is moving through us, enabling us to breathe, to think, to live, to be…  'In Him I live, move and have my being.'  That's all - a very good place to be.