The Need to Believe.


Just as water, ice, and vapor are different arrangements of H
2
O,
 seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling, and thinking are all different arrangements of awareness. Logically we can not go beyond this sphere of knowing, as anything and everything that is known is revealed within this spectrum of knowing.

In steps the word belief. 


There is something deep down inside of us that intuits a larger world than rational consciousness is capable of apprehending—a world beyond the limitations imposed by dualistic thinking. I want to be clear, intuition or belief first emerges as a feeling within the spectrum of knowing. It is an invitation from the heart, so to speak, calling us back to the source, back to our point of origin.

At first it seems impossible to transcend the spectrum of knowing. This is due to the fact that we only know how to relate to the world from a rational point of view. Contemplative practice offers another path, a path of "knowing" by "un-knowing," as Thomas Merton said.

Here is a gas fireplace: 

In this fireplace is a fake log with several spigots that release gas when the valve is open. The spectrum of knowing or the witnessnot what you know, but that you knowis like the flame the emerges from that spigot. Each flame is an image, so to speak, of the source, but not identical to the source. Each flame is individual and unique, but also shares a common essence, gassiness, for lack of a better word. We want to reconnect with this essence, but as a flame "I" cannot go back into the spigot. The flame cannot reconnect with its gassiness, because it gets burned up in the cloud of knowing. This is where many people stop. They are afraid of forfeiting their individualityself-consciousness or knowing that they know. From this point of view, the word belief is not an invitation, but a defense mechanism that absolves them of their responsibility to recover their gaseous nature. 

The contemplative path is a willingness to move forward in a state of unknowing. This can only be realized in the absence of a knower. This is the "Cloud of Unknowing," as the anonymous 14th century Catholic theologian put it. The flame passes through the portal of its own nothingness by renouncing its flameness or individuality. "It" does not reemerge in the deep space of Unknowing, but in a transcendent sense, finds a deeper ground of being that is not localized, omnipresent. It is seemingly another world, not where we simultaneously exist, but where existence itself is fueling the fire of life that dances around on the surface.

Our limited conscious self is constantly rubbing up against the vastness of our unconscious life. Belief is the heat generated from this friction. It is not an excuse to cling to our rigid, preconceived ideas about ourselves or the world we live in, but an invitation to abandon everything: not only our ideas or what we know, but the security and certainty of knowing itself, so that we may plummet into the divine source from which all life springs. Belief is tugging at us, inviting us into the "Cloud of Unknowing." In this darkness the sound of absolute silence can be heard saying, "Let there be light." But there is no one there to hear it. There is only the Word.

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