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On Being Spiritually Poor

God, whose love and joy are present everywhere,
can't come to visit me unless i am not there,
           -- Angelus Silesius.

I reread the   poem by the Sufi, Mansur al-Hallaj with the horrifying first line:"Kill me. my faithful friends." The explanation of this is in the final couplet:

"Between me and You, there is only me.
Take away the me, and there is only You.

The "You" is Allah and the "me" is........, well, maybe my ego, my "small self."

This morning in an Al Anon meeting, a woman said: "wherever i go, there i am."
And i thought: yeah, and i have to stop going to those places.

Al-Hallaj felt he might have to give up his life in order to experience Allah.  The fictional Job had to lose everything except his life to appreciate his absolute dependence on that Mystery that many people refer to as God.  So what do i need to lose or give up?

Like Silesius'  and al-Hillaj's "me," the only thing standing between me and my "Original Nature" is my ego.  I am standing in my  own light, which blinds me.  I am my  own worst enemy which destroys any chance of victory.  No wonder Silesius and al-Hallaj use such strong language.  No worder the author of "Job" gave him such terrible burdens to bear.  Suffering is no fun at all, and my attitude is the root cause of my suffering.*

In my personal prejuiced opinion; Jesus' first beatitude was "Fortunate are the poor, for their's is God's kingdom."  The words "in spirit" were added by the Church, perhaps to de-politicize the saying.  Mostly,  in  my personal opinion, people who have tried to add to Jesus' message have distorted and cheapened it.  In this case the change was felicitous.  Poverty of spirit does bring us nearer to the Mystery, perhaps moreso than material poverty alone.

*Buddhists hold that pain and misfortune are not the same thing as suffering.  Pain and misfortune are inevitable; suffering is caused by "desire," by paying too much attention to what we like or dislike.


Aug. 21st, 2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your response! And I'm so glad that your answer is what it is. :)

My question came in from a bit of a tangent, which is why it didn't seem connected. The thing in your posting that got me tangenting is how it comes out of your long-running desire to be rid of yourself, or get your identity out of the way, or be empty. Another chunk comes from reflection on identity, particularly self-conscious identity.
Aug. 21st, 2016 10:30 pm (UTC)
I have been reminded by by you and others that poets use metaphor and even hyperbole to express the inexpressible. Believe me, i have no wish for physical death any time in the foreseeable future.

I also am perfectly happy with who i am. But who am i, really?

Am i a middle class, white, Western male? Yes, in this illusory dualistic world i am. But this is part of my "second nature" (as Vico would have called it). Buddhists say that that is not who i really am, its not my Buddha nature which i can recover by following the 8-fold. Other religions have their own version of that, but for some reason the Taoist and Buddhist versions speak more clearly to me.



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