Bird Droppings November 25, 2011
Spirituality an uncertain certainty?
“When you examine the lives of the most influential people who have ever walked among us, you discover one thread that winds through them all. They have been aligned first with their spiritual nature and only then with their physical selves.” Albert Einstein
What has always intrigued me is Einstein is so often reputed to be an atheist. Yet within his writings the aspects of a spiritual nature are intertwined. Perhaps it is his Judaism and heritage that allowed some to criticize and chastise. Perhaps he would never clarify his stance other than his own heritage yet intermingled with his scientific ideas is a under lying awareness of a spiritual aspect to humanity.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein
“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)
It has been a few days since I have thought about another author I enjoy William Edelen. It has been some time since I first read, Toward the Mystery. It was in around about way I found this book. The book was named as the book of the year for the United Methodist women groups and distributed at their national conference. Back in the day roughly mid 1990’s or so it was a very controversial book. Edelen refers to his own search and path to spirituality as a search for the mystery. The book is a series of essays by Edelen looking at religion and the founding fathers their aspects of faith and spiritual views. He emphasizes in his look at eastern thought and Native American thinking where his own direction has gone. In Indian thought is where Edelen borrowed the idea of “the mystery”. Often in Native American ideology the mystery is all that is and where we fit.
“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” Black Elk Oglala Sioux Holy Man, 1863-1950
In 1931 Black Elk revealed his vision from his childhood to author John G. Neihardt who recorded the words in the book, Black Elk Speaks. In Native American thought the circle was considered sacred and throughout literature and philosophy the circle continues.
For example you can see in curios and in eastern thought the black and white fish swimming in a bowl symbol of yin and yang, which make a circle. Many tribes considered their spiritual direction to be, Wakan-Tanka, or the Great Mystery. In movies and books Wakan-Tanka is used in reference to God when referring to Native Americans, yet the word is not even defined it is a mystery. In ancient Hebrew philosophy you could not say the name of God and even in biblical writing, “I am that I am” is God defining God to Moses. Perhaps it is in our own insecurities we need definitions and clearly defined parameters for spiritual matters.
We build monuments and write affirmations and liturgies to glorify and personify. Edelen uses the term anthropomorphize we want everything to be clear and to be like us. “Toward the mystery” “The great mystery” Daily I work with students who have are literally vacuums in terms of faith in anything which also translates to not trusting anything or anyone. Over the years I have found that faith and trust are synonymous and without one you do not have the other. While many will say they believe this or that and or deny just as easily it is the lacking the hole that offers the issue. For if you cannot trust dealing with each other let alone spiritual issues is difficult. Earlier as I went outside for my morning meditation the trees were blowing rustling is a better word slightly that thankfully subsided a few minutes while I sat out or I would have frozen in the thirty five degree chill. The quiet of the heavy air subduing humanities encroachment I was looking deeper today perhaps than normal searching myself for the mystery. So often I wonder why it is so many simply except and stagnant not allowing daily interactions to come onto play not allowing the pathway to fork off or change. But then again sometimes I ponder to much today let us all please keep all in harm’s way on our minds and in our hearts and always give thanks.