"Does not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice (Proverbs 8:1)?"
[00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of Wisdom's Cry. My name is Charlie. You might know me as scifi/fantasy writer C. E. Dorsett. I'm also the head of the Seraphic Church, a member of the Creation Spirituality Communities. And today we're gathered together to go into a very dark place.
[00:01:00] Today, we're continuing our series on what is creation spirituality. On Monday's episode, we talked about that very question, what is creation spiritualtiy and we differentiated it from the fall redemption tradition. Yesterday we spent some time talking about the first of the four paths of creation spirituality, the path of bliss, the path of awe, the Via Positiva.
[00:01:23] Today we will be discussing the negative way, the Via Negativa, the way of silence.
[00:01:31] Now if you missed any of these episodes you can of course subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast service or you can go to WisdomsCry.com, where every episode in this series on creation spirituality will be gathered together into a collection there for your easy listening. OK. So let's get started.
[00:01:53] The Via Negativa, the negative way. This one is a hard thing to talk about because it's literally talking about absence. So this is the path of not this, not that. This is the path where, when we talk about God, when we talk about our own experiences, we are very clear and concise to differentiate between what we are talking about and what we are not talking about. So for example when I talk about God I am talking about the Spirit that made the universe, that created the universe, that binds the whole universe together. That is our very ground of being. I am not talking about a spirit. I am not talking about a thing. I'm not talking about anything that our human minds can comprehend. And it's important to keep those two things together in your mind. I know that may sound hard, that may sound difficult because, okay so, we're talking about the thing that is and we're talking about it as not being that. But the reason that's important is it keeps us from idolatry.
[00:03:07] Idolatry is when you believe that that thing whatever it is, is exactly what you think it is. So any time you think you know God, you have gotten into a place of idolatry, because God is always more than you or I can comprehend. So this is one of the main things that we learn here in the Via Negativa. We learn to like go. We learn to let be. And that is a really hard, hard, hard, hard- difficult thing to do.
[00:03:51] It is a very hard thing to do. So as always we're going to start with two quotes by Matthew Fox. We're going to start with a quote by Matthew Fox:
[00:04:00] "In the Via Negativa. In darkness and nothingness, in the silence and emptying, in the letting go and letting be, and in the pain and suffering that constitute an equally real part of our spiritual journey. This is Path Two (Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality, 18).” This is where we find God and what's important here is this is the path of letting go. Letting go of those images that we think we have. Letting go of our Self-righteousness. Letting go of that feeling, I know who I am. I know what I am. I know that I don't deserve this.
[00:04:52] Well maybe it's true that no one deserves anything that's brought upon them. But it's more important to just let go and what do I mean by this.
[00:05:05] There is a traditional meditation in Buddhism that goes something like this. "I behold and know my body. I am not my body. I behold and know my sensations. I am not my sensations. I behold know my perceptions. I am not my perceptions. I behold know compulsion. I am not my compulsions. I beholden know my consciousness. I am not my consciousness. I am the knower. I am the witness. There is no knower. There is no witness."
[00:05:41] And what you are seeing in this meditation is this dance back and forth between the Via Positiva and the Via Negativa and I think it helps. In this phrase: I am the knower. That is the Via Positiva. That is how you can see yourself. I am the one who knows. I am the witness. I am the one who is seeing these things. I am not these things. I am the one who sees them, but at the same time we have this Via Negativa. This way of silence. There is no knower. So, yes, in some ways it's helpful for me to see myself as the witness, but I am not.
[00:06:21] This is the place of seclusion and self isolation that Jewish meditation, hitbodedut, is designed to get us to. Avodah be-Bittul, the path of isolation, the path of just letting go, letting go, letting go until there is nothing left but you and God. And the final leave taking, Meister Eckhar tells us, is the leaving of our self and the leaving of God for God. This is The heart of Christianity and most Christians fixate on this and for good reason they should. St. Paul said in Galatians 2:20 and 21: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
[00:07:34] Now that's important. This is the heart of Christianity is the Via Negativa. We let go of ourself. We let go of what Paul called the old Adam, and we embrace the new Adam. That's not an easy thing to do.
[00:07:51] Maybe an easier way of understanding this is in the Book of Proverbs. Chapter 1 verses 2-7 Solomon tells us that there are four pillars to wisdom. The Via Negativa is the pillar of equity, of Meyshar. Now, Meyshar means, "evenness, uprightness, straightness, equity, evenness, levelness, smoothness," and that's the point that we're getting to here. Equity is fairness or justice in the way people are treated. Everyone is the same because there is nothing there. You have to let go. Your name is nothing. Your title is nothing. In the grand scheme of things, your achievements are nothing. Now that is not a demotivator. That should not be a demotivator, because your achievements are something greater than you. Dr. King had his achievements, but others built on them and others continue to build on them.
[00:09:01] Every thing we do is part of a process. Everything is the cause of an effect or the effect of a cause and everything is in this chain. This causal chain of cause and effect, cause and effect, cause and effect. And to say that any particular thing is a thing in and of itself robs it of its power. Because it is simply what it is. It is the cause of an effect and the effect of a cause. It is part of a long chain. More things will come from it in the future. Mmore things went into causing it to happen than our minds can even fathom. And so by letting ourselves rip it out of time and place and put it in the little book and press it like a flower and say, look this is a flower. No it isn't. It's a pressed flower that you took away from nature and you killed. You ripped it away from the life that it once had. See even a flower isn't a flower because of all the things that went into making that flower: from the rainfall to the other things that decayed in that soil to give the flower nutrients, to the light of the sun, to the weather, the clouds, the wind, the rain, the plant itself growing in the right direction without trees to shade it so that it couldn't flower, the bees coming to pollinated at just the right time, And that flower given a chance will go to seed, and that seed will spread, and that seed will grow, and that seed will grow into another plant with another blossom. God willing.
[00:10:40] So what is the flower? Is the flower just the pretty little thing that you're looking at? Is it the sum of all of that biological process that brought it into being? Is the flower the seat of the seed that will make further flowers in the future? What does the flower? It's all these things and none of these things and by allowing ourselves to have that moment where we both say what it is. It is a flower and we negate it is not a flower. It is part of this continuing process. We see the beauty of the flower. You see, we don't take away from the beauty of the flower. We make the flower more beautiful in seeing it for what it is. All of the beauty and power of nature had to conspire to make a rose a rose. But that rose will make other roses. Roses usually grow from clippings, so maybe that wasn't the best argument to make her, but you get what I'm saying. Take a daisy in a field, right. Same thing.
[00:11:54] And that's what we miss when we allow ourselves to make things solid to make things firm and to say this is what this is. And that's the power of the Via Negativa.
[00:12:04] It keeps us from getting stuck in things. When we have pain and I have really bad knee and back pain. I don't have back pain. That's part of a process that goes back to various accidents I've had throughout my life in various ways that I've taken care of myself to the weather patterns around me to whether or not I overexerted myself the day before. It's a part of a process. And by accepting that is part of a process I see the process for what it is. I accept it for what it is and then I look at the process that I can take to alleviate that pain or just cope with it. Whichever is the option that I have presented to me.
[00:12:48] It is treating everything the same. It is allowing yourself to empty a thing of all that it is so that you can see the fullness of what it is. I know that sounds crazy, that sounds hard, but it isn't. It takes a little bit of time to start doing this but once you start doing this the world opens up to you and such an amazing and magical way.
[00:13:12] I really recommend that you try doing this on a regular basis. I think you'll find some amazing, amazing results.
[00:13:22] So like with the Via Positiva, within the Via Negativa, in the negative way, we have themes: various things that we learn in the Via Negativa in and of itself.
[00:13:39] So within the Via Negativa, in the way of silence, we discuss the Ayin or the emptiness of God. If you remember yesterday, our talk about the way of bliss, I talked about the Yesh of God, the being of God, that God is in everything and I even talked about the Ayin a little bit there. God is in all things. God is present in all things. That is Yesh. God is absent from all things. That is Ayin and being able to hold those two things in your mind simultaneously is one of the great tricks of nature and the reason you have to say it that way.
[00:14:18] The reason it's important to look at the emptiness of God is that every wordm, like when I say the Yesh of God, even when I say the Ayin of God, those words are empty. I'm only pointing to the experience of the truth as it has been passed down to me, as I've experienced it, and as I have learned it. Those words have no meaning or power in and of themselves. They're empty. That doesn't mean they're not important. And that's what we start learning when we look at the Ayin of God.
[00:14:54] We talk about the Yetzer ha–Tov. Yesterday, we talked about the Yetzer ha–Ra, the inclination towards evil. This inclination towards separation that we have within ourselves. We also have a Yetzer ha–Tov, an inclination for unity or literally an inclination to good. It is as dangerous as our inclination towards evil or inclination towards separateness. Either one of these let get out of balance causes problems because in our inclination towards unity we start thinking crazy things like, "Everyone has to believe the same thing. Everyone has to say the same thing. Everyone has to act like I act. Everyone has to look like I look. Everyone has to love the opposite gender." We are saying crazy things because unity is different from uniformity, but people who become obsessed with unity know that the easiest way to find unity is in uniformity. Unity in Diversity is a very hard thing but it is the spice of life. It is the thing that makes life worth living. And you have to be careful. You have to watch those desires for uniformity, for control. Yet at the same time, it has to moderate your inclination toward separateness. We'll be talking about that a lot. I know that's going to keep coming up.
[00:16:31] Peace. Shalom. This is one of those things that is at the heart of the way of silence. This idea that the Word of God remember we talked yesterday about the Word of God, Dabhar, the living spoken power of God in action. In the Via Negativa, we experience this Word of God as peace. So whereas in the Via Positiva, in the way of bliss, we spoke the Word of God, in the Via Negativa, we rest in it and in so doing we find peace and that peace as Jesus said as a peace that passes all understanding.
[00:17:21] In the Via Negativa, we learn to empty, to let go of all of our images, and let silence be silence. We just let go. The wonderful song from Frozen that I'm pretty sure if you've been alive for the last couple of years you've heard. If not just go to youtube and type the word frozen in. About 5000 videos, if not more, probably in the millions ny now will show up of various people singing this song. Let it go. I'm not going to go. Don't ask me. Doing good. But this is what we have to do. This is the great thing that we have to learn in life. You have to learn to let go. Sorrow is but for a season. Joy is but for season. Happiness but for a season. Triumph, loss, all of these are but for a season and if we don't learn to let go of them what do we have? We have pain because we want to hold on. We want to hold on and that holding on causes our pain. That attachment causes our pain.
[00:18:30] In the way of silence we learn to be emptied, letting pain be pain. This is a process known as kenosis of letting go, of emptying ourselves out. Now that sounds scary doesn't it. God has called you to empty yourself. It sounds scary but it's not it's like what we were talking about before. Everything is the result of a process and the start of a process. Everything is the cause and effect and effect of the cause and learning to empty that out, empty that out until you just are the process. You learn to live God in such a powerful way when you do that. We learn to sink into nothingness and just let nothingness be nothingness. That's hard.
[00:19:24] Realize that sometimes we won't have the answer. Sometimes silence is the answer. Sometimes just letting go is the answer. Sometimes just letting be is the answer. And that can be really tricky. I'm not saying that it's not. These are the arts that we are going to be talking about in this podcast.
[00:19:46] We also learned to lose the taste of death. Death is always with us. In fact if we're to believe what we know from modern science, your death has already happened. Space and Time can be seen from a certain perspective as a constant. All of the choices that you have made have already been made. You're merely a four dimensional path. You're just experiencing the flow along that curve. You were born to die. We all were and that's a painful thing to think about. Some of us think about it too much especially when we're sick when we're in pain we think about our death, and we shouldn't. Honestly, we shouldn't but we do. And so we're going to be talking about that how to learn to lose the taste of death.
[00:20:49] Our faith is so much stronger when we just learn to let go. And that's one of the things that I'm hoping that you'll come with me on this journey to learn as we continue on this path about learning creation spirituality together.
[00:21:14] So continuing now, tomorrow, we will be talking about the Via Creativa, the creative way and I can't wait to talk to you then. As always if you have any comments or if you want to listen to this again or share it with others you can find out more at WisdomsCry.com. You can find me @WisdomCriesOut on Twitter.com.
[00:21:35] Thank you so much for listening. If this podcast has been helpful to you please rate it in your favorite podcast engine and share it with a friend. Help us grow. Thank you. And we'll see you tomorrow. God bless you. Goodbye.