"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, December 31, 2010

Finding the Deepest Part of You: Butterworth, Tolle, Tillich and Synergy

The very first book of a "spiritual" nature that I didn't wholly reject out of hand (and I had read and rejected quite a view beforehand) was Eric Butterworth's Discover the Power Within You. (I believe this is the book that Maya Angelou gave Oprah which, in turn, kick-started Oprah's spiritual quest.) Shortly after that my therapist suggested I read Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now.

I was blown away. I took the book to my friend, the deeply spiritual man who had given me Butterworth's book in the first place. "Look," I said, "Here's a book that's exactly about what we're talking about. And," I added, "he doen't use the word 'God' because he says its already too freighted down with too many old meanings."

"What book is that then?" he asked in his Scottish brogue. When I showed him Tolle's Power of Now, he sort of leaned back in his chair and said, "Aye, I've been meditating on that book for eight years now." Together we would spend many days discussing these books (and many other "spiritual, but not necessarily religious" material I found) over the next few years until he passed on.

Shortly after my friend had passed away, I found a two-volume paperback set of sermons by Paul Tillich. They were sitting on a table marked "free" after a book sale. In reading one sermon of this Lutheran scholar - perhaps the most renowned Protestant scholar of the 20th century - I was so struck by the following passage that I had copies made and laminated to give to friends with a similar bent of mind to mine.  The passage talks about God from the viewpoint of one who has devoted a lifetime to plumbing the inner depths of his being in search of the Absolute:
"The wisdom of all ages and of all continents speaks about the road to of our depth. It has been described in innumerably different ways. But all those who have been concerned - mystics and priests, poets and philosophers, simple people and educated - with that road through confession, lonely self-scrutiny, internal or external catastrophes, prayer, contemplation, have witnessed to the same experience. They have found they are not what what they  believed themselves to be, even after a deeper level had appeared to them below the vanishing surface. That deeper level itself became surface, when a still deeper level was discovered, this happening again and again, as long as their lives, as long as they kept on the road to their depth. . . .
The name of this infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, what you take seriously without any reservations. Perhaps to do so you may have to forget everything traditional you have learned about God, perhaps even the word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about him. You cannot then call yourself an atheist or an unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not. He who knows about depth knows about God."
The kicker is that about three years after my friend's death, his dog-eared and worn copy of Butterworth's Discover the Power Within You, fell happily into my possession. It was only in re-reading his copy that I realized that this underlined, highlighted and notated passage from Paul Tillich and quoted by Butterworth was the exact passage I'd been handing out to friends - even the ommitted paragraph was the same.

I will not acknowledge that "God works small magics, his wonders to perform," But, I will say karma (or the law of cause and effect) works in an attention-grabbing manner to demonstrate the synergies ever present in the wholly interrelated, interwoven inter-being of our synchronystic cosmos.

1 comment:

  1. this is very deep. The topic clearly states what it is about. Each word holds a deeper meaning. Should read it throughly, for knowledge purposes.