God is the whole that is more than the sum of its parts. We are of God and participate in God and bring the light of God to life in the world of ordinary, apparent reality. Why does life evolve toward greater complexity? Why is there so much in the way of fecundity? Are we trying to beat the clock? Is there so much to express in the physical realm that it “falls all over itself” coming to be? Is it just life’s way of ensuring its future?
Life has a spiritual dimension. Life invents its own purposes. Life hatches its own meaning. Life is God waking up to God. Life is God waking up. Life is waking up to God.
Life evolves toward consciousness, toward awareness, toward waking up, toward enlightenment, toward God.
What do we see when we see? We see that the Tao of Lao Tsu and the Kingdom of God of Jesus are one thing. It’s like this: “The Tao that can be said is not the eternal Tao.” It’s like this: “The Kingdom of God is like a woman who goes to market and buys a jar of meal. She hoists the jar to her shoulder and walks home, not knowing that there is a small crack in the bottom of the jar and that the meal is falling out behind her. When she arrives home, the jar is empty.” You think you are doing one thing, and you are doing another. You talk about the Kingdom of God, about the Tao, about God, and you think you are saying something. But, all the while, your jar is empty.
What do we see when we see? We see the absurdity of thinking we see. We see the hilarity of looking. “The Tao is like a man riding his ox looking for his ox.” “The Kingdom of God is like yeast in the dough.” “The Kingdom of God is cast broadly upon the earth, and no one sees it.” Because they are looking for the wrong thing. Because we think it is about one thing and it is about another.
We can assist the process, resist the process, oppose the process, but we cannot co-opt the process and use it for our own ends, our own agenda. We can find our way, but we cannot force our way. Like the water that finds its way down hill, without forcing its way. Like the knife that finds its way through sinew and joint, without forcing its way. We find our way without forcing our way.
We belong to the process. The process does not belong to us. We come to serve, not to be served. We come to offer the gift of who we are and what we love to the service of the process, to the unfolding of life, to the emerging of God, to the Way.
It is not serious business. It is play. It is joy. It is wonder. It is life. It is being alive. It is love. It is compassion. If you try to hard, you do not learn to swim. If you fight the water, you sink. Swimming is about learning to trust the water, relax into the water, become one with the water. But, being one with the water does not mean that we are water.
When we see, what do we see? When we hear, what do we hear? When we are aware, what are we aware of? When we know, what do we know? When we understand, what do we understand? The moment. This moment right now. We see the moment, hear the moment, are aware of the moment, know the moment, and understand what is happening, and what needs to happen, and how we might assist the moment in becoming exactly what it needs to be.
All of this is complicated by our own needs. We cannot see the moment because we are in the way. We have fears, desires, motives, intentions, resentments, hostilities, purposes, and see the moment as being here to serve our interests. How can we use the moment to get what we want? What needs to happen in any moment is what we want to happen in that moment. We recognize no needs beyond our needs.
Consciousness, awareness, insight, understanding, enlightenment, waking up are about recognizing needs beyond our needs. They are about seeing that the moment has a life of its own. We can look at the moment of our living, and see it or not see it. “The Kingdom of God is cast broadly upon the earth, and no one sees it.”
What’s in it for us? What do we stand to gain? What are we going to get out of it? Where is the gain? How can we use this to our advantage? How might this serve our agenda, our goals, our ends, our good? What good is a good that isn’t good for us? This set of questions sets us up for a related set of questions: So what? Who cares? What’s the point? What difference does it make? Why try? What’s the use? The focus of all these questions is Me, Mine, and Ours. This is the focus that is the foundation of the politics of domination and control, which is the heart of life as we know it.
We cannot see the moment of our living because we look at it wondering how we can use it to serve our ends. We cannot see the Way because we are in the way. See?
It may be too much to think of “God’s will,” or of “God willing,” as though God is an external, all-knowing, invincible, controlling, master mind, causing this and preventing that. Even to use the word “God” sets people up to think, “Oh, THAT God,” or enables them to think that I mean the same thing by “God” that they do. “God” is an entrenched pattern of thinking that is carelessly perpetuated when we use the term.
We get a different response in our hearers when we talk about “the will of the Way,” or “the Way’s will.” The Way doesn’t have a will the way God has a will. The Way’s will is the will of the right order of things. It is the will of the way things are, of how they need to be. It is not imposed from without, but uncovered from within, discovered, intuited, assisted, as we might assist the will of the rose, for instance, by fertilizing and watering the bush, and keeping it free of insects and disease.
The will of the rose is to be itself, to become itself. That is, we might say, the will of the Way for the rose. The will of the Way is built into every living thing, and, beyond that, it encompasses all living things in concern for the whole. The will of the Way is for the good of the all. And so, we have to move carefully along the Way because the good of one is not necessarily the good of the other. What’s good for the rose, for instance, is bad for the insects that feed upon the rose. You see the problem. Serving the good of the all is no easy thing.
We have avoided the difficulty in the past by declaring something to be “God’s will,” and marching resolutely toward its realization no matter how much harm we did in doing it. It is interesting that “God’s will” always seems to favor those in power, or those interested in seizing power. “The will of the Way,” however, has more to do with laying power aside.
We cannot follow the Way in a powerful way. It is not a crusade, a conquest, a “win the world for Jesus” kind of campaign. It is a walk, a slow walk through the moments of life, with gentle, compassionate concern for each moment. What is good here, now? It takes looking and listening, seeing and hearing, to know. We cannot be in a hurry. We cannot rush to the good. What we found to be good in the last moment, may not be good in this one. We have to wait, and watch, to see. The will of the Way is listening, hearing; looking, seeing. The will of the Way is knowing what needs to be done and doing it. The will of the Way is the realization of the good, the expression of the good, in each moment. Whose good is served by the good we serve? How good is the good that serves only our good? The will of the Way is that we live with compassion in the service of a good that may not be good for us.
God always exists for the benefit of those serving, believing in, being faithful to, God. Everybody who loves God expects to get something out of the deal. Generally, heaven. But, also protection, and blessings, and prosperity. What does the Way have to offer us? How about “participation of the coming-to-be-ness of that-which-is”? Think that will sell in Peoria? Think that will pull ‘em in off the streets in Memphis? It’s easy to sell God. With heaven to gain and hell to avoid, you would be a fool not to sign on with God. But, living a life aligned with the Way? What’s in it for us? If you have to ask the question, you don’t have what it takes to take up the journey. You cannot be concerned about the good with your good in mind.
Well, you can imagine how this limits the number of people who will be on the Way at any given time. It seriously jeopardizes the capacity of the Way to be realized upon the earth. You have to offer incentive. You have to provide motivation. You have to encourage the people to do what needs to be done. You cannot depend on them to live well out of the goodness of their hearts. You cannot expect them to love their neighbor as they love themselves for no reason. You cannot say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and think that they will do it, just because you told them to. If you are going to be a successful proponent of the Way, you have to have a whip in one hand and a bribe in the other. You cannot talk people into serving a good that they don’t immediately see as being good for them.
There is an unspeakable difference between those who believe in Jesus and serve God in order to get to heaven when they die, and those who seek enlightenment for its own sake, and take up the Way because they must. There is no way to move rationally, logically, from the first group to the second. There is only waking up. And, it is not the nature of the Way to wake anyone up, but to wait, until they wake themselves up. The Way does not make disciples, or seek converts, or evangelize the uninitiated. It is beneath the feet of everyone, and they don’t know it.