Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Memorable Fancy

From The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake writes, "The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked them how they dared so roundly to assert that God spoke to them;... Isaiah answer'd, 'I saw no God nor heard any, in a finite organical perception;...'"

Prophetic hearing is very difficult, and requires much effort and struggle. It is the ability to distinguish the Divine melodiousness in the cacophony of Mind. Mind overflows with multiple streams of thought, sensations in all their internal and external downpourings, the non-sensual communications and interactions between people, and how much more? Merged into all of this is what I call the Divine melodiousness. But do not imagine this is a separate thing, and that all that is required to hear it is to tune out all the rest. This is a common error, called "false prophecy" in the Bible. Isaiah did not hear God's voice. Isaiah, discerning melodiousness in the cacophony, extracted, superposed, wrestled with, and haltingly translated a human message out of the totality of his experience. He did not tune out and close off. Just the opposite. He opened the floodgates as wide as he dared, often at the edge of drowning.

If you think you can "hear" God's voice, you are already lost and deluded! The god that talks in a human voice, who tells people to "declare to the world my word," is more accurately known as "ego," and usually an arrogant ego claiming an authority it doesn't have.

Let us be more careful, and not let our imagination run away with us. Listen closely. To experience, in its most basic form, the Divine melodiousness is not so hard. It is what we know as the "spiritual experience." There are so many faces to this experience: peace, wholeness, bliss, eternity, infinity, healing, atonement, grace, thanksgiving. The more difficult work begins when we want to understand and transmit this experience. Over the millenia, it has been translated into many different languages and many different/similar religions, but often with a sense of literalness that can make this literature misleading. Let us translate with care, with whatever accuracy we can muster, and with at least a little humbleness. We live in a world that is only approximately true, and we can only approximately discern Divine intention. So let us try to translate, knowing that our words, too, are only an approximation.

7 comments:

Troy Camplin said...

What do we make, then of the "voice" -- which has only spoken clearly once, to tell me "Isn't it time you joined the Catholic church?" -- that has "spoken" to me over the years? It's a voice or, more acrruately, a strong sense which, when I listen to it, things turn out well, but when I do not listen to it, my life becomes a storm until I give in and do as I'm told. Isn't that the lesson of Jonah and the great fish?

Stephen Berer said...

Hey Troy! Thanks for your comment.
I'm not sure we see things too differently. You're not talking about a voice but a "sense" as you put it. That's more or less what I'm talking about. And more importantly, you're not claiming you are conveying God's word. You are seeking a good path for yourself. In the wholeness of your being you sense you are being guided. I feel that too. When you resist that guidedness your trail becomes more difficult. And experiencing these difficulties, you, naturally, think there is a better way. "Better" in this sense means "less difficult," "less troubled," but not necessarily a more valid or "truer" path for you. How can we know if another path might be "truer"? So you listen to those inner urgings that seem to be guiding you, or re-guiding you. If life becomes better, you think, "oh, I'm back on track." If life does not become better, what then? Have your inner urgings been wrong? Have you "heard" wrong? Or is your path meant to be, at least for a time, troubled?
We live with approximate knowing, including whether our current state of well-being or trouble (etc) is what we are "supposed" to be experiencing.
So, listen on!! And may your guide lead you down paths of peace!

Troy Camplin said...

Certainly there have been times when I know my path was to be troubled. But the inner urgings have always tried to get me to do what I was supposed to do. So long as I ignored or resisted the urging, life was terrible -- but when I listened, things became much easier. Specifically, I knew the precise thing I should be doing. I knew it with certainty, but rebelled against it. After a while I learned to stop resisting and to do as I was told. Life has been a lot easier since. She I saw my wife for the first time, I had absolute certainty that she was who I was going to (and supposed to) marry. I have heard a precise, clear voice with specific instructions only twice. One told me to join the Catholic church. The other told me I was having a boy and I was to name him Daniel. Turns out the second one was incorrect, as I had a daughter (and named her Melina). I wonder if the second time I was not told what I was told precisely to keep my ego in check. Or perhaps it was ego talking. Not sure what to make of the clear voice telling me to join the Catholic church, though, in light of the accuracy of the second one -- though I do typically go every Sunday anyway.

Stephen Berer said...

Dear Troy,
I think your experiences speak directly to my ideas and concerns. The inner voices we hear, or attempt to discern, are complex, multi-variate, embedded in the totality of our being. They are not cut and dried. They are not external or distinct, or somehow separate from us. We cannot hear them by turning "ourselves" off. Rather, we must carefully extract the information from the multiple threads of our consciousness. The Divine is not separate from us, but is the essence of us in all our complexity. If we are to hear better, we must open ourselves to that complexity, remembering that our abilities are still extremely primitive. And I think we are well advised to be skeptical, since our "hearing" is, at best, approximate.

My little article was an attempt to further our understanding of the phenomenology of spiritual hearing. Rather than simply passively and randomly experiencing these "voices," we need to explore how to refine and amplify our abilities, to sharpen our mental senses, to improve our discernment. So I urge you to continue to listen, test, critique, and re-frame.

Troy Camplin said...

My thoughts on the divine are similar to yours, I think. Take a look at my comments on informational ontology. also believe that as the universe becomes more complex we are either evolving toward the divine or toward divine consciousness (the two may not be separable in an informational ontology, though). I also believe that some people have emerged into a new mental complexity that is of a level of complexity in relation to the human mind as the human mind is to an intelligent mammal's mind -- which is to say, exponentially more complex.

Stephen Berer said...

Troy, you say, "some people have emerged into a new mental complexity..."
Interesting. This then would account for Jesus or Gautama, I suppose. Right?

Troy Camplin said...

I posed a response, but it's not here. Fortunately, I did also post the response on my blog, so feel free to come by there and leave a comment. Sorry about that.