Friday, August 16, 2013

Of Pianos, Pot Roasts and Deep Freezes

We had a wonderful dinner at our home the other night with a couple of friends, Ben and Tina, and four of my children - Rachel, Nathan, Aaron and Levi. This was only the second time that Rachel has had dinner in our home, and the first time she has been here with Nathan. It was almost surreal to me to see and experience this; for it had been several years since I had experienced them together.

I wrote in my journal the next day how words failed as I contemplated how wonderful it was to see Rachel sitting at the keyboard in the living room, playing while Nathan knelt next to her, singing. I don't think I'd ever seen that before, even when they were younger. It meant so much to me to see them together and to see them in *our* living room, a part of my life, a part of our life.

Another first came a bit later when Rachel decided to make gravy to go with the pot roast Mark had prepared in the slow cooker and the mashed potatoes that Tina had brought. She had never been in our kitchen, and to see her there was ... so satisfying, so warming. 

Then to watch Tina and Rachel talk about the secrets of making good gravy. Such simple things, but heartwarming to a dad who has missed these kinds of interactions with his children for so long.


On an unrelated note, I have been reading, along with several other books, Wayne Dyer's book on the Way of the Tao. There was a time when this material was totally unapproachable by me. I started to read this book a year or so ago and just couldn't get into it. Now, however, it's different. And I see that as a good thing. It means I'm progressing along my spiritual path.

As I was reading about the Tao, a couple of thoughts floated into my head, or rather questions.

First, why do we insist on "anthropomorphizing" God? We simply cannot abide the notion that "God" may simply be a creative and energizing force, an essence. We insist that "he" be a "man" like us. After all, even most rank and file traditional Christians (as opposed to Mormonism which has taken the anthropomorphizing thing to a whole new level) view God as a kindly old man.

Second, why do we insist that we must be judged and found wanting and punished?

As I wrote these questions down in my journal, I thought back on the days of my youth, especially my freshman year at Illinois Wesleyan University, and on the intellectual curiosity I had and the feeding I felt. I explored questions such as the ones I've just described and many more besides. 

Then it occurred to me that I am exploring again all these concepts and ideas after all these years because it's as thought my mind - the intellectually curious part - has been in deep freeze for most of my adult life. For when I joined the Mormon Church, curiosity and openness was replaced with certainty and closed thinking - at least insofar as it related to spiritual matters and theology.

Now, it's like the ice has thawed and I am re-awakening. I am exploring thoughts and concepts now, in my 50's, that most people my age would have processed long ago. In one way, it's exhilarating and liberating. In another sense, it also feels a bit weird, like doing so is not "age appropriate." But I'm going to focus on exhilaration and liberation and pick up where I left off 30 years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Joseph,

    Again - fascinating discussion! I began a study (and then stopped because life got in the way) of Taoism (Daoism)some time ago. And while I know little so far, I came across some very enlightening principles taught by the masters Lao Tze and Chuang Tze: it was the former who said:

    “he who knows others is learned/intelligent; but he alone who knows himself is wise/enlightened”;

    and the latter who said:

    “a man who knows not himself, but regards only what others say, and takes possession not of himself but of others (ideas), does what pleases others instead of pleasing his own nature (true self); now one who pleases others instead of pleasing one’s own nature is just another gone astray.”

    It was the Taoist master Po who said

    “always be yourself, and never fear thus to be naked to the eyes of others.”

    And it was the real Jesus (not the one of the edited and censored “gospels”), as we know from the recently discovered earliest writings of the “sayings source” of the gospels of Thomas and Philip, who responded, when asked by the disciples to name the most important of all his principles:

    “don’t lie to yourself (about yourself), and don’t do what you hate.”

    To you and to me and to all pursuers of truth: don't do what you hate.

    I hope you enjoy your reading of Matthew Arnold. In his writings, it is the psychology of C. G. Jung – himself an overt Taoist- that is at work as well. The union or reconciliation of the outer ego with the inner true self is the aim and end of Jungian psychology, a process termed the mysterium coniunctionis.

    Best wishes and keep writing!