If I’m right about the spiritual path, journey, quest, coming down to, revolving around, being simply a matter of Right Seeing, Right Thinking, Right Doing, Right Being, the questions at the heart of the enterprise then become: How ought we see and think? What ought we do? Who ought we be? These are the questions which comprise the depth and scope of spiritual practice. We will spend our lives answering them.
Right Seeing sees things as they are—and as they also are. And, not only that, but it also sees things as they can be, might be, ought to be. Right Seeing sees the “is” and the “also is” in relation to the “ought,” in light of the “good.”
Right Thinking stands between Right Seeing and Right Doing as the mechanism which enables what is seen to inform what is done. Right Thinking appraises. assesses, evaluates, the “is” and the “also is,” and imagines, creates, formulates, produces an appropriate response in service of the “ought,” the “good.”
Right Doing exhibits the “who” eternally engaged in the struggle between the “is” (including the “also is’) and the “ought.” Right Doing is the “what” produced by the “who” in relationship with the “is” and the “ought.”
Right Being is the foundation, the core, the center, the “who,” which shapes, forms, determines, directs our perception of, and response to, our experience of life. We live out of who we are in the world. Right Being is the organizing principle of our lives. We live from and toward who we are (including who we also are and who we ought to be) in responding to our experience of life. And our experience of life wakes us up, deepens our awareness, and enables us to increasingly improve our ability to live with Right Seeing, Right Thinking, Right Doing, Right Being.
There you are. The spiritual task. Spiraling through eternity to the wonder of being itself. May we appreciate the beauty of it. And step consciously into it, to be graced/cursed by it all our lives long.
With a camera in hand, I am conscious of looking for ways to photograph a scene in a way that would produce a “Yes! That’s it!” in you when you view the image. Sometimes the “That’s it!” is too obvious to miss, and is missed in the attempt to avoid yet another rendition of a “classic view.” Tunnel View in Yosemite is Tunnel View. The Grand Tetons at the Snake River Overlook, or at Schwabacher Landing, or Mount Moran at Oxbow Bend, or the Maroon Bells at sunrise, are just what they are. You screw them up, and do them a disservice, by being cute with them. Cute photographs are worse, in my opinion, than classic photographs, than post card views. “Look, Ma! No hands!” becomes just another cliché when seen in light of all the other kids saying, “Look!, Ma! No hands!” You may as well not take a photo of a scene if you are not going to take it the way it ought to be taken.
The way a photo ought to be taken is the way in which the image produces a “Yes! That’s it!” in its viewers. It is the way in which the viewers don’t see the image, the photograph, as such, but see in the image, through the image, the wonder, beauty, joy, majesty, marvel, etc., that is at the heart of the image. We aren’t taking a picture of sun rise at Mt. Rundle. We are taking a picture of more than can be said. “Here,” we are saying. “Let this sit you down and shut you up, if only for thirty seconds.”
So, I look for how to see a scene that will enable you to see the scene for its “wonder potential” at the time I took the picture. How can I do right by this scene? How can I bring this scene home to you in a way that lets you see the wonder of it? How can I see it in a way that reveals the wonder of it? The task of photography is the search to see. It’s also the task of life. And, it is what the “spiritual quest” is all about.
Why we hobble along with a first century concept of God is beyond me. God is angry because we sinned (vicariously, now, through Adam and Eve), and is going to get us, if we don’t say we are sorry and mean it, and believe in the sacrificial death of God’s Only Son Jesus Christ Our Lord, who died in behalf of all of us in order to appease God’s need for Justice in the form of a blood sacrifice, because God is enraged and someone has to die. The wages of sin is death, you know, although it seems to me that should be “are death.” The wages of sin are death. Well, just try to change it. Just try to change any of it. We have to see it the way they saw it in the first century or go to hell when we die.
Who says so? Why, they say so, of course. The first century sayers say so. We can’t change what the first century said about God because they said back then we would go to hell if we did. Oh, shiver, shiver, quake, quake. They are pointing at us with the Stink Eye!
Well, let them point, I say. They don’t have a corner on how to think about God. What makes us think that what they think is the way to think? First century formulations simply represent their best efforts to talk about God and the Christ Event within the givens of their world-view. It is impossible for any of us to think very far “outside the box,” or beyond the boundaries of conventional thinking. We think the way we think because that’s the way thinking is done around us. Thinking advances slowly, in small increments, over time. How long did it take to move beyond the wheel and axle to the horseless carriage? There you are. And, if things are changing at a faster rate today, they are just changing faster on the same level. We aren’t changing the way we think across the levels, or beyond the level of current thinking. When is the last time we had a Great Idea on the level of, say, Democracy? There you are. It takes a while to think up something new and different. Really new and really different. If you think it’s easy, come up with something really new and really different by bedtime.
But, two thousand years is plenty of time to come up with at least a small advance in the way we think about God. Not that it hasn’t been done. It just hasn’t been done within Christendom. We call them heretics who come up with new ways of thinking about God, and kick them out of the church. Or, we would, if they didn’t do us the favor of leaving before we can kick them out. It’s a pity. Where would you go to think about God? Certainly not the church! You wouldn’t go to the church to think about God. Thinking about God isn’t allowed in the church. Or anywhere else. You can’t think about God anywhere.
If you are going to think about God anywhere, you can only repeat the formulas and catch phrases that pass for acceptable God thinking. You can’t say anything that hasn’t been thought/said. Don’t believe me? Try it. Spend the next week saying things about God that haven’t been thought/said. Let me know how it goes. I would particularly like to know where you have the most success in being heard. The shower doesn’t count.