Wednesday, April 29, 2009

83/118 - The Fall, The Holy Spirit, and other Easy Ideas

Tuesday off.

The day 117 meditation breaks down into three parts.

First, Gates talks about A Course in Miracles and its interpretation of Genesis story of the fall of man.  There are two points that Gates emphasizes.  First, that man's expulsion from Eden came when man lost his sense of oneness with God.   This interpretation would more easily persuade me if I had a good sense that there was a strong sense or feeling of oneness with God before the fall.  The only support I can find for this is in the idea that Eden itself was a paradise.  Maybe that's enough, but I'm certainly aware of other interpretations of this passage (notably ones emphasizing sex as original sin).

Gates second point here is that God created the solution to all man's troubles at the same time that he created the problem.  The solution is the Holy Spirit, which Gates (or perhaps the Course in Miracles, which I haven't read) says was created simultaneously with the expulsion from Eden.  I don't know where this is from.  Part of me wonders how this squares with the idea that Jesus came a few thousand years later to provide the solution.  If the solution to all our problems was already there, then there's something that I simply don't understand:  why the need for another solution.

Anyway, this theological discussion paves the way for a point about Yoga.    Gates wants to compare spiritual ignorance and clear seeing to the introduction of man's problem (lack of oneness with god) and the solution (the Holy Spirit) in Genesis.  He says "The moment we become willing to believe in a power greater than ourselves, or in a a reality more complex than the material world of our own imagination, we find ourselves to be embraced as intimately by the true as we have embraced the false." 

I don't buy it.  I know many, many people who not only are willing to believe these things, but they profess actually to believe them.  But many, if not most of them, are simply groping around like the rest of us.  Worse, if the distinction is between being "embraced by the true" or "embracing the false", I'm pretty sure that alot of these people are doing the latter. 

The other difficulty I have here is in the simple idea that belief can so blindly follow the will.  The other day (yesterday?), I talked about Descartes first meditation.  The first big problem I have with his idea of universal doubting is that it just doesn't have much to do with what doubting actually is.  There's a difference between saying "I doubt X." and actually doing it.  And Descartes rests way too much of his project on these purely theoretical doubts.  If anyone sincerely entertained the doubts he leads us through, that person would never be able to even get out of bed, and would likely get put away.

I feel similarly about belief.  Saying you believe something isn't enough to create a belief.    So the question for me then becomes what Gates means by someone being "willing to believe".  On the surface, it sounds like an easy thing to do.  But maybe its not as easy as it sounds.  Can someone simply decide what they are willing to believe?  Is that a just a matter of choice, or is something more involved?  I'm thinking there must be more to it, or else all the people I know who say they believe in God but not in organized religion would be beacons of spiritual enlightenment (not to mention all the pigheaded religious zealots).

The last part of the meditation consists of a remarkable description of what happens once a person puts spiritual commitments first.  Here, a big point is that the practice of yoga starts to extend everywhere, on and off the mat.  The other point that really interested me was the idea that a spiritual person lives on another plane -- one whose "rules can only be perceived by the heart."  For the most part, I'm pretty sure that I'm not there.  I think the metaphor is powerful, but part of me wants to pin this idea down, and yet I realize that by its very nature, the idea is not subject to pinning:  that would be asking to perceive the rules through some other organ, and that's out of bounds.   Oh well...


Bosco said...

I think one of the challenges for Gates, in writing his Meditations, is to express in words, to be understood by the mind, spiritual realities that exist "on another plane, a plane whose rules can be perceived only by the heart." He is writing about a different world, a world which can be accessed by the practice of yoga. The realities in this world, whose rules are primarily perceived by the heart, not by the mind, are therefore not necessarily amenable to rigorous philosophical anaylsis. Although I think there is much to be gained by examining the ideas he posits in this manner, that is not the way in which they will ultimately be understood. They will be appreciated by the heart, through experience, and the mind may just never get them. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Adam and Eve experienced a "oneness" with God because He spoke to them directly, and it actually appears He was physically there with them. Then they were banished from His presence. I agree there is nothing in Genesis to indicate that, at this point, God sent the Holy Spirit to substitute for Himself. Although I believe some access to His Spirit has been available to all peoples at all times, The Bible doesn't really talk about God sending His Spirit until after Jesus is resurrected. Jesus promises His apostles that the Spirit will come when He leaves (see John 15), and then it does come later, as a "rushing mighty wind." Acts 2:2.

Since when are these Easy Ideas?

By the way, Jessica is becoming quite the dedicated practitioner: Her favorite pose is Triangle! And she is really shaping up fast.

Duffy Pratt said...

The Easy Ideas was a (perhaps lame) attempt at sarcasm. There's nothing easy at all about trying to write about this and I'm amazed at how well Gates does.

That's great news about Jessica.