Wellsprings of Insight

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    Contributor – Meditations
    Martin LeFerve

    After a couple of beers at the local brewery, my atheist friend made the oft-heard claim that Jesus never existed. When I retorted with the cliché that he was throwing the baby out with the bathwater, he became somewhat irate, and called me a “Jesus freak.”

    Fortunately, we’re still friends. I can’t say with 100% certainty that Jesus lived and taught, and was crucified like thousands of others on a Roman cross.

    But it’s a heck of a lot more likely that his disciples, and especially the Johnny-come-lately architect of Christianity, Paul, got things wrong, than it is that Jesus never existed at all.

    My own view is that Jesus was blindsided by darkness in Jerusalem, and that he accepted his death once he saw that his mission had failed. Even so, as interesting as the question of where Christianity went wrong is, there are much more relevant questions.

    There are two kinds of atheists with which I’m acquainted. There are thinking people who reject organized religion and a belief in a ‘Sky God.’ And there are those who hold the belief that there is no intelligence beyond the mind of man.

    The gulf is almost as wide between these two kinds of atheists as it is between believers and non-believers. The belief in a separate ‘Creator God’ is a completely distinct issue from the question of whether there is an immanent intelligence in the universe.

    Of course, any attempt to explain or define such an ineffable essence as ‘God’ is self-defeating, because logically one could only perceive it when the movement of all words, ideas, and memories completely ceases.

    That said, we are creatures of language, but don’t have to be prisoners of it. Language need not delimit; words can point toward something, rather than pigeonhole.

    As I see it, there are mysteries that can be solved, and there are mysteries into which the self can only be dissolved. The former is the purview of science, while the latter is the potentiality of the mind/brain.

    Unfortunately, the philosophy of mind that presently prevails is not helpful with regard to so-called mystical experiencing. Even the term has a derisive connotation, and not without reason, given the history of religious mumbo jumbo.

    But can we demystify ‘mystical experience,’ and allow the human brain to come into contact with an infinite intelligence that permeates and transcends the material universe? Doing so, we will have a better foundation for spiritual development, and a better language with which to talk about it.

    The difficulty is that knowledge is a positive movement, whereas mystical experiencing is a negative movement. That is, science and technology are a matter of learning, whereas awareness of the numinous is a matter of unlearning.

    How does one initiate such a movement of negation? There is no method, since methods are fabrications of thought, with its motivations and goals. But there is an approach to observation that does not interfere or exclude, generating a quality of mind that simply observes, and in the act of passive observation, gathers attention.

    After all, deleting psychological memories, not storing them up, determines the healthiness, vibrancy, and capacity of our minds and brains. That’s a matter of allowing space to open in the mind, and the energy of attention to gather in the brain.

    I generally use the word ‘mind’ to refer to the faculty of thought in all its forms, which usually dominates the brain. But there is a quality of mind in which thought is quiet, essentially still, and such attention opens up untapped areas of the brain.

    Walking in the canyon just beyond town, the grass is lush and intensely green after all the rain in recent weeks. To my surprise, some of the slopes are carpeted with orange poppies in full bloom.

    A florescent red-throated hummingbird darts in close, takes a nip at a flower, hovers directly in front of me, and then buzzes past one’s head.

    A great volume of water surges over and around the volcanic rocks about a hundred meters below, and a whitewater section of the creek washes up to one’s ears.

    A few people walk by on the path behind me during my hour there–a friendly young man and woman, and an old man with a young boy. The latter stop and look down at the gorge, and the boy gently holds onto his grandfather’s shirt.

    A basic shift in consciousness occurs. One feels bathed in silence, and beauty beyond description.

    *The views and opinions expressed in the above article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of

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