May 3rd, 2011

Angels and Dragons

I will admit that i put off reading the Chuang Tsu for two years because i couldn't get past the first page.  (A giant fish morphs into a giant bird which performs marvelous and terrifying feats.)  After all, i was seeking spiritual guidance, not fairy tales.  By the time i came to the first mention of dragons i was fully immunized to any influence they might have had on my credulity .  I can savor the mythological and cultural flavorings, spit out the metaphysical gristle, and chew happily on the spiritual meat.  Chinese dragons don't scare me or thrill me.

I'm reading Meister Eckhart's sermons a chronologically as possible to see if i can trace his growth as a homilist.  (Though his early sermons are said to possess such a high level of maturity and spirituality that there seems to be no room for growth).  In German sermon 2 (Davies 1994) he launches into a discussion of angels, how their number is infinite, how each is a separate species, how a proper knowledge of angels is requisite to having the kingdom of God, etc. etc  Suddenly i find that i am unable to penetrate this outpouring of angelology to get to the spiritual core of Eckhart's sermon.

When i look at primitive and eastern religions, i am able to enjoy the mythology as mythology and separate it from the universal spiritual truths which the mythology is supposed to point toward.  The myths of the Abrahamic religions get in my way.  Here is the difference.

I don't believe in dragons, i believe i'm not expected to believe in dragons, i believe that most other people i encounter do not expect me to believe in dragons., Whether i believe in dragons or not is a personal issues.  If i believed in dragons i would probably keep it to myself and expect anyone else who believes to keep it to themselves.  If they told me they believed in dragons it would only reflect poorly on their general credibility.  I expect books on dragons to be classified under fiction or mythology.  If someone came up with proof of the existence of dragons i would feel neither pain nor joy.  In other words, i am not attached to the idea of dragons; i am not ego involved with dragons.  This is why i was able to put stuff about dragons aside and enjoy the truth of Taoist literature, including what is said about dragons..

I don't believe in angels; but there are certain circles in which i would be expected to believe in angels.  I don't know whether most people i encounter believe in angels, but i suspect they do.  I suspect that many of them would expect me to believe in angels and it would reflect as poorly on my credibility to discount them as it would reflect poorly on their credibility to believe in them.  I expect books on angels to be classified under religion and spirituality.  Proof of the existence of angels might cause joy or grief, depending on the mood i was in that day.
I am attached to my disbelief in angels.  I am a person who does not believe in angels.  I am ego involved.  But i have to acknowledge that if i had lived in a place and time where dragons were part of the symbolic reality, i would have been ego involved with dragons.

I pray that i will find release from the superficialities of cultures and beliefs and objects and other so called realities of the so called world, and that i will be able to savor the flavor and be nourished by the spiritual substance of Eckhart's essays and sermons.