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Imagine a world with no words

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I often wish that we humans had no words. No ability to speak, or write. For I often think that the world would be a better place, if not for the presence of words.

True enough, words can lift up, bless, and inspire. There is much good that can be said of words. But how often do words deceive. How often do they hurt. How often are they misheard, misperceived, and misunderstood. Does the good outweigh the bad? Or is the bad so repellent, that it might be better just to not have either? To forgo all the good, in order to be rid of all the bad too.

I often wish that we might communicate by telepathy. I wish that, not words, but understandings, could be transmitted — nay, implanted — directly into the mind of our fellow. Clear. Complete. Nothing added. Nothing withheld. Perfect understanding. Perfect knowing.

Some years ago, I worked in the city nearest my home. I became pleasantly accustomed to spending my lunch break sitting on a lonely, grassy hilltop, in a parkland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At times, serendipitously, others would come, and sit quietly nearby. Eating. Reading. Dozing in the sunshine. Playing with children, or a family pet. Rarely would any words pass between us. Only smiles. And nods of knowing.  

I was inspired by these experiences, and sought to establish a Meetup social group to encourage this. I called it “Alone Together”.

The idea was simply to set a regular time, and picturesque place, where attendees could come and sit, silently. Alone, and yet, Together. For as long, or as little, as each one wished. The only rule: no words. No communication, spoken, or written. Alas, I lost enthusiasm for this idea — perhaps, in hindsight, somewhat precipitately — when initial inquirers quickly proved to be motivated only by the most superficial — that is to say, physically romantic — of intentions.

A week or three ago, I met a lovely older lady at my present favourite lakeside haven of solitude and tranquillity. As I sat quietly on the grass watching the Whistling Kites nesting above, I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching over the field behind. Through the passenger side window, “Helen” began speaking with me about our feathered companions. Evidently she had observed that I was photographing them. Joy in this activity is a pleasure we share in common. I imagine this explains why a little old lady would approach a strange leathered man, in an isolated rural location, when his ape-hangered iron steed scowling darkly nearby might otherwise suggest a risk of his being a “bad ass biker”.

Although I did enjoy meeting and conversing with Helen, an observation has since occurred to me. The “conversing” part was entirely unnecessary. Superfluous. And in a sense, detrimental. Indeed, I can imagine an alternative first encounter — a Take 2 — that would seem to me to be far more pleasurable, and enriching.

In a world without words, our meeting might instead have resembled my Alone Together social vision. Helen might have driven up and, instead of speaking to me, simply done what she came to do. Watch the birds. Silently. Alone, as it were. Perhaps inevitably, our eyes would meet. Smiles would be exchanged. Understanding — knowing — would be shared. Just the essential. The apparent. That we both enjoy observing the birds.

And that would be enough. More than enough.

What is more, the not knowing any more than this, would make for an added pleasure. That of mystery. Of quiet anticipation. That some day, we two strangers might meet there again. And again share, silently, our mutual pleasure.

Sadly, I must confess that because many words passed between us, I have little wish to meet again. I now know too much. To join Helen’s formal birdwatching club — though I do appreciate the invitation — holds little attraction. To meet again in my — our — private place by the lakeside, will mean an intrusion. A slightly unwelcome, and certainly an unnecessary intrusion — the intrusion of words — on the very activity, the essential reason why I — we — travel to that beautiful place in the first place. 

I know this to be true. Because it has already happened.

I would much prefer that we could simply be alone … together … in a world with no words.

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The heart of Lucy

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Yesterday I went out for dinner and a movie, with an old friend who is lonely.

He is a father. And a divorcee. His own father passed recently.

The movie was called Lucy.

I found it thought provoking. And on further reflection, disturbing.

In a penultimate scene, Lucy has just disappeared, at the very instant of reaching “100%”, and, just as the bad guy protagonist empties a pistol into her head. A policeman asks, “Where is she?”

A text message immediately appears on his mobile phone.

“I AM EVERYWHERE”.

This movie presents a message.

An aspiration.

An ideal.

That if only we could access 20%, 30%, 40%, or 100% of the capacity of our brains, we could become as gods.

All knowledgeable.

All powerful.

Immortal.

But in becoming as gods*, we lose our humanity.

When I consider the violence, oppression, pain, suffering, destruction, torment, devastation, deceit, and mass murder we have wrought in the world over the past century — throughout our much-lauded, Panglossian age of scientific discovery, of technology, of Information, and of ever-growing Knowledge … but not, it seems, of Wisdom — I wonder.

Why do we not make movies that present a very different message.

Imagine a world where we all would access 100% of the capacity of our hearts.

 

* Johansson’s character becomes cold, violent, murderous, inconsiderate, demanding, manipulative, self-obsessed. Heartless. One wonders what kind of “god” it is the film writers are presenting as an aspirational ideal.

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When thou comest by thyself,
think not before what thou shalt do after,
but forsake as well good thoughts as evil thoughts,
and pray not with thy mouth
but list[en] thee right well.

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And then if thou aught shalt say,
look not how much nor how little that it be,
nor weigh not what it is nor what it bemeaneth …
and look that nothing live in thy working mind
but a naked intent stretching into God,
not clothed in any special thought of God in Himself … .

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This naked intent freely fastened and grounded in very belief
shall be nought else to thy thought and to thy feeling
but a naked thought and a blind feeling of thine own being:
as if thou saidest thus unto God, within in thy meaning,
“That what I am, Lord, I offer unto Thee,
without any looking to any quality of Thy Being,
but only that Thou art as Thou art, without any more.”

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That meek darkness be thy mirror, and thy whole remembrance.
Think no further of thyself than I bid thee do of thy God,
so that thou be one with Him in spirit,
as thus without departing and scattering,
for He is thy being, and in Him thou art that thou art;
not only by cause and by being, but also,
He is in thee both thy cause and thy being.

— Anonymous, Epistle of Privy Counsel.

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For silence is not God, nor speaking is not God;
fasting is not God, nor eating is not God;
loneliness is not God, nor company is not God;
nor yet any of all the other two such contraries.
He is hid between them, and may not be found
by any work of thy soul,
but all only by love of thine heart.

He may not be known by reason,
He may not be gotten by thought,
nor concluded by understanding;
but He may be loved and chosen
with the true lovely will of thine heart … .

— Anonymous, Epistle of Discretion.

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On the art of contemplative prayer; that is, of love meeting love.

Motorcycles, Mysticism

Naked stretching

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From where comes that light

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My soul weeps with longing,
For the eye of my soul it sees,
Flashes, fleeting moments,
Emanations of that which is Best,
Pure, Virtuous, and wholly Divine.

I see Goodness, Truth, Mercy, Justice,
Twinkling in imperfect man,
How little faith is needed,
The existence of the Perfect implied,
By that which is imperfect.

Oh how I love,
And long to be forever lost in,
What is on other side,
The darkness,
Pierced through with darts of Light.

But a kiss from the lips of God,
Once tasted,
My soul cannot be sated,
By this promise of His Essence,
For I long that all might share in Perfect Bliss.

Come, darkness, draw near, gather all about,
For so much the sooner your time will end,
I pray not that I should pass over into that Light,
But that the Light will move you on,
And dawn over us all.

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I give you

“She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or,
if this were not within her power, to give birth out of love for life to successors who would do it in her place.”

— Boris Pasternak, Dr Zhivago

 
Can you imagine how our world might change.

If we called each thing by its right name.

Imagine if we ceased to say,

“I love you”.

And called this thing by its right name.

Today.

Look your beloved in the eye.

Do not say,

“I love you”.

Say instead,

“I give you”.

“I yield you”.

Would those words be true for you?

When. What. Why.

Do you give?

Why. What. When.

Do you yield?

Would it be more honest of you to say,

“I take you”.

“I resist you”.

Be sure.

To call each thing by its right name.

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To be near, is enough

There was a time when I found comfort in keeping a hand written diary, a record of my solitary reflections. These diaries — 200 page A4 spiral bound notepads — had steadily mounted up into a not insignificant pile, until more recent times, when alas, this, among other good and useful habits, found occasion to go on the wane.

Today, having a view to reviving my past practice, I rescued the last of these diaries. Here following is the second-to-last entry:

I am at “my” spot, near [withheld for privacy] Lookout. On “my” rock.

I have been blessed in recent days, while reading St John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mount Carmel. It has helped me to “see” several things, that have hindered me in recent years.

The biggest insight, being that the sense of being “idle” that comes (often, to me) when committed to the doing nothing, the isolation, that I (and many/most mystics) have found necessary to living a life “right” with God, is not truth. It is temptation; a hindrance; a distraction. It is not true. Far from being “idle” or “lazy”, being in this state is simply ceasing from “my” works, and so allowing God full access to do His work (cf. pp 166-170).

Today, I’ve not yet begun to read more. But I am convicted of an idea, regarding love. For God, or indeed, for others.

Just as, when one loves a woman, one is content just to be NEAR her … indeed, that is what one desires, simply, above all … then in this same way, we can see that there is no need to “know” / understand God (an impossibility, in any event). There is no need to be able to describe the experience, to be able to define or label it. It is enough, just to be near Him.

I sense there is much more to be gained, in comparing (true) earthly love between M & F, and the correct way to understand … in greatest simplicity … the essence of “having a relationship” with God.

It is enough to sit silently with the One we love on earth. How much more The One in heaven.

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