Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 21: The Suchness of Is

Last night I re-read a journal published by a new-agey philosopher whose work I'd wrestled with back in the days when I approached spirituality like a smorgasbord. I'd been surprised to see his name pop up in the footnotes of the books of a couple of Jesus-ey authors, so I wanted to see if maybe there was something there I'd missed. I found myself back in the haze of frustration and confusion I remembered from reading this guy's stuff before, the struggle to make sense of it. Then I reached a sentence where he talked--at great length and in tremendous detail--about "The Suchness of all that Is." I burst out laughing, and felt set free from my struggle.

Here's what I realized: I'd spent years trying to understand this guy and others like him, feeling like an un-evolved idiot because the harder I tried, the less I understood. There was such a sense of failure: I was an (over) educated woman with more than a decade of dogged spiritual pursuit under my belt--how could this stuff remain so impenetrable? Millions of spiritual seekers lapped up his books like they were sacred texts (I'll admit a certain pride having his name visible on my bookshelf back then, even if the pages felt like so many word jumbles)...and yet I could not for the life of me tell you what his central premise was, what he might be saying about life or how to live it, or why/how people sat for hours in his living room debating alleged dichotomies and fallacies with the passion of lovers.

Last night, it became hilariously clear: I couldn't make sense of it because it doesn't make any sense. The Suchness of all that Is? With random capitalization? It's the ultimate case of the Emperor parading naked through the streets: the people so want him to be properly dressed that they overlook his embarrassing nakedness.

Here's the thing: in the unlikely chance that any of you know who I'm talking about, I don't bring this up to discredit this particular author (I should probably Google "The Suchness of all that Is" and see if his name comes up...) He's made an interesting career for himself over the years, worked really hard and written thousands and thousands of pages (as a writer, I'm in awe of his work ethic) and contributed something to the larger conversation, even if I'm not sure what it is. I'm a HUGE fan of people who take the time and effort to contribute something tangible (rather than random thoughts) to the larger conversation...I've often lamented missing out on the Salons of 17 & 18th century Europe, for exactly this reason. So no slam intended for the author.

But I bring this up because I see "The Suchness of Is" all around us: We're surrounded by expert ideas that don't make sense. They're everywhere, filling the pages of books and magazines, suggesting ridiculous, dangerous, or non-existent paths from where we are to where we want to be. We can't conquer food addiction by focusing obsessively on our food. We don't get over a guy by forcing ourselves to be his best friend and cheer him on as he loves someone else. We don't solve our money issues by speaking incantations over our bills and expecting them to magically multiply. My "a-ha" moment came when I realized: it's not just that this stuff doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for anybody.

All that said, let me bring this around to a happier place: Part of the reason I still read the Bible--even when I'm tired, or a passage is boring, or I don't get it--is because it doesn't leave me in this place. Every single time I've wrestled with the Bible, God has been there with me in some way, helping me understand. Sometimes things click into place (like when a grown up comes along and helps a kid solve a jigsaw puzzle). Other times I get an impression, God saying something to me about how this passage applies to my life right now. And there have been times when I'll wrestle with something, then flip to an entirely different part of the book in frustration, only to find a sentence there that speaks to me about the one before. It's kind of wild. And while I'll admit that I don't always love what God reveals to me, it's always "good" in that larger-than-this-world-I-probably-should-have-capitalized-it sort of way.

(And yes, I tried the page flip with the philosophy journal last night. Went from "The Suchness of Is" to something about the "Eternal Nest of cosmic being in non-dual reality." I checked in with God to see if he had a next step in mind, and sensed him saying, Close the book, you're done here... So I did.)

Is there something you've tried and tried (and tried) to understand or make work? Today, let's pray about that. Maybe God wants to set you free?


Sarakastic said...

OK When I first read the title of this post I thought "Huh? Trish always makes things make sense and I do not understand that". Also I did google that phrase and the only thing that came up was your blog post.

larramiefg said...

Figuring out IF something truly is important why it can't be described in basic terms everyone to understand.

larramiefg said...

[Above should read: "...described in basic terms for everyone to understand."] I'm not trying to add to the confusion. ;)

Jane said...

This reminds me of one of the Bridget Jones movies where she decides to throw all her self help books into the trash can in a moment of clarity and freedom. The world is full of people's opinions and interpretations and...... they are just opinions and interpretations - a time to say 'thank you for sharing' and move on. Just reading your posting made me go dizzy :-) I have tried and tried to make certain relationships work but I'm giving that up. That's not my job!