So High, So What?


“We all like to be high," says the meditation master, Gurumayi. "Everyone is high on something or other.”

 Yes, and I ask: 'So high, so what?!' What does it matter? Is your high worth anything?

 Gurumayi continues: “Some people are high on their pride, some on their arrogance, some upon their wealth, others on their power." 

 “Still others are high on their clothes, others on the splendor of their impressive homes." 

 "Some people are high on their boredom, on their depression, others on their happiness, and still others on their ignorance.”

 There are some, too, who are high on their ideas about God. For example, how God is supposed to be - how He’s supposed to work in the world. 

 I tend to cringe a little, and sometimes a lot, when I get the impression that somebody has got God, or should I say, his idea of God, all figured out. 

 He’s got God somehow all contained and managed.

 It seems to me that he’s got God in a box, all wrapped up, defined and explained. 

 And therefore, as it seems, there's little room left, if any, for the realms of mystery, wonder, and a certain blessed ability to be uncomprehending. 

 Your God is Too small, wrote J.B. Philips, about certain God-constricting theologies.

 Your God is Too small. That is, your ideas, beliefs or concepts aren’t big enough.

 But of course, sad to say, it’s the small god who is popular and pursued.

 The crowds tend to chase after the small god, full of superstitious zeal, like the crowds who pressed in on Jesus Christ.

 About which Jesus said: 'You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs - and for free.'

 His assessment was that the crowd was coming after Him for bread, that is, for thrills, wonders and miracles, and not for that truth which Christ called the Bread of life, which endures after all else has passed away.

 And consquently therefore, if you’ve got a god too small on your brain, it is inevitable that there will be a crisis, as your idea is put to the test.

 As for instance, in a situation Gurumayi describes where a man gave her a letter in which he cursed God because his wife was dying of cancer. (Kindle my Heart)

 He was angry that his God of mercy wasn’t intervening to save her. 

 He had clogged his brain up with ideas about what God was supposed to be and do, leaving no room for greater or other dimensions.  . 

 He told Gurumayi about how he’d come up with his idea about God: "A child,” he said, "wants to look up to someone and the child thinks his parents are perfect and makes them his deities. As he grows up, he is always searching for some hidden, higher power to replace them, until he says, “the unseen force is God."

 "Everyone wants something superior, so we create something unseen and unknown - the idea of God." 

 In this man’s estimate, religion is all make-believe. It’s an illusion. And has no future. And yet he felt let-down by the God he said he did not believe in

 Gurumayi’s response, wisely, was not to argue. 

 Instead she invited him to keep coming to the chanting and meditation sessions.

 "Why don’t you keep coming?” she said. 'Why don’t you taste and see for a while and see how it goes. Let’s see what transpires.'

  And she gave him a rose to take to his dying wife. 

 As the man then visited his wife, she began to notice that there was  something different about her husband. He was changing somehow. 

 He was not even aware of it, but she saw it. 

 And thus, as she was dying, she got happier and happier because of her changed husband, a husband who had begun to engage in spiritual practices.

 One day, the man reported back to Gurumayi: 'I don’t know what happened. I didn’t believe in God, but now I do.’ Go figure!

 Gurumayi explains that the man's experience had become "solid, absolutely concrete." He was experiencing a liberation. 

 How had this come about? "Through meditation,” she says, he had become "free from his fixed ideas.”

 She then explains: "It isn’t that God is an idea: “It is that you have the idea that God is an idea.” 

 And therefore, "when you liberate yourself from that idea, you experience peace." 

 "The man liberated himself from the idea that the God in whom he didn’t believe was taking his wife away from him.”

 In other words, “when he separated himself from this concept, he experienced peace."

 “Later," says Gurumayi, "he was able to give that peace and love to his children, and they were able to cope with their mother's death, with separation, because their father had experienced an internal separation from his own fixed ideas."

 "Because of this inner separation from his idea of God, he experienced union with God, union with Divinity." 

 Her conclusion: "We arrive at the experience of God as we free ourselves from our ideas, our concepts, our beliefs."

 "Then we recognize the God within ourselves and the God within others.”

 It’s a shift of awareness. A felt shift. A shift that involves the recognition that the Divine lives within you. 

Which has been emphasized in every religious tradition worth its salt: “God lies hidden in the hearts of all.” 

  “Do not search in distant skies for God. In man’s own heart is He found.” 

   “Why wilt thou go into the jungles? What do you hope to find there? Even as the scent dwells within the flower, so God within thine own heart ever abides. Seek Him with earnestness and find Him there.” 

     “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, ‘Lo, here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” 

       “What the undeveloped man seeks is outside; what the advanced man seeks is within himself.” 

 When this is understood, a true high is possible. A high which is a blessed state. A sanctified one. A resting in the Eternal.  

 Here’s a high that comes about through the experience of that stillness that occurs when the mind calms. 

 It’s that true high that occurs in the space between two breaths, or between two thoughts. Or even perhaps between two heartbeats. 

 This involves a recognition that I am more than a brain with its limiting ideas or concepts. As Alfred Tennyson wrote in his In Memoriam: “I trust I have not wasted breath; I think we are not wholly brain.”

 For Tennyson understood that there is a dimension beyond the brain, a dimension beyond the ideas, concepts and beliefs that the brain comes up with.

 Which was my experience the other evening when I heard in a dream the voice of one of my sons when he was maybe four or five years old.

 It was his little boy voice, a voice I have not heard for something like thirty years. It was unmistakably his voice and no other.

 I heard him clearly, full of life and animation. It was his distinctive way of speaking when he was feeling especially thrilled about something. So innocent and so full of wonder.

 It was as clear a sound as I have ever heard. 

 I woke up feeling utterly astonished. Completely awe-struck. 

 How can I get across how I felt to have entered a timeless zone, an eternal realm, another world? I was in a dimension beyond space and time. 

 I cannot explain this well enough. Words fail. 

 But I will try to tell you anyway that the dream had more punch to it - was more vivid, real and true than most anything that ever happens during daylight hours.

 Which is to affirm that the best things, the things that the mind can barely comprehend - if at all - are the stuff of life, and make life worth living.

 Wittgenstein, in his Philosophical Investigations, describes just how difficult it is to describe the aroma of coffee to anyone. “Why can’t it be done? Do we lack the words? Have you tried to describe the aroma of coffee and not succeeded?”

 We flounder and fail to describe the aroma of coffee, just as we stammer to describe a particular dream. Yet our experiences are real. It’s just that words are insufficient.

 The Philosophy Professor, Daniel N. Robinson, speaks for me when he says that there is "a dream world closer to reality than the mere and shifting items seen under the sobering light of day.” 

 Robinson is referring to another world beyond this one, a reality of wonder and mystery that sometimes opens up as we respond to great literature, music or art, or to spiritual practices, or to incredible dreams.

 There is a realm of mystery and wonder - the real thing - that goes way beyond what can ever be scientifically observed and recorded.

 We are actually inhabiting that deeper realm, but barely know it.

 When, if only for a moment, you were to find yourself in that world, my exclamation would be something like: 'So High, yes, yes, yes! Keep that fire burning!' and not, 'So high, So what?!'


Fincity, Kettel