Free Association—Psalm 23:1

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Undoubtedly, all the modern translations are correct in translating that verse as “I shall lack nothing.” Want in King James’ time meant to be in need.

Yet there’s something so very appropo of that old translation today, when desire and need are so easily mistaken for the same thing. I shall not want, in modern English, implies “I will desire nothing.”

a rich person
is not one who has the most,
but one who needs the least.

Knowing the difference between need and desire might be a way to begin stopping the “wanting engine,” the restless craving of the mind for what’s not present.

Ever desireless, one beholds the mystery;
Ever desiring, one beholds the manifestation.

When desireless for things, Yahweh (Being, God, Isness) truly does become the Shepherd, the Guide. What’s real is no longer obscured by what’s illusory.

Desiring nothing means desiring No-thing.
Finding No-thing is dying to the ego-self.
Having no ego to live for, we meet No-thing in our own no-thing-ness.

The emptiness unbounded.
Only Isness is.

Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.

An Atheist in Love with God

Once I told Kitabu Roshi that I felt like an atheist madly in love with God. That’s even more true today. It’s hard to describe what the shift in my spiritual perspective feels likeďż˝except to say, as I do, over and over, that “it’s not about belief”:/faith/belief.html.

What I can say is that the general theistic idea of God as “someone” “up there” or “out there” simply no longer resonates at all. For me, it’s more like what the Christian mystics Meister Eckhart or Hildegard of Bingen said, “Isness” or “Thisness.” And because I exist, and everything that is exists, nothing in existence seems removed from This Isness, This Being.

It’s like how aware is a fish of the water? How aware were you, one second ago, of the air you were breathing and living within? That’s about how aware I am of God 99.999% of the time. In a strange way, it’s also like because God is so much, he also isn’t, as well.

What’s changed is that I had a concept of God before, that I could look at, and say yes, I believe in God, he’s like this, this and this, all apart from my feeling divine presence, and sensing This. Now, when I’m not aware of him, there’s like nothing there—it’s not like I don’t have any beliefs at all, but there’s a kind of emptiness, and it’s not “empty” feeling in any way. It’s like there’s no object. You might consider it like the hum of a refrigerator, or the soft, high-pitched ringing in your ears. It’s always there, but it’s never there, unless you’re quiet or you listen for it.

But something wonderful happens when I just stop. Stop wanting, stop worrying, and just stop. I don’t even try to “meditate” anymore, at least, not as a deliberate focussed activity with intention and technique, but rather to just stop, and feel the stopping. When I do, God is here, over-powering, undeniable. There’s no point in “believing” in God then—that would be like “believing” in warmth when you’re drenched in sweat! The only thing I can say in this stopping time is “I love You, Lord.” And that overwhelming feeling of love is the only thing that really seems to be there in just being with the One who just is the root of all Being.

So being an atheist madly in love with God isn’t quite as schizophrenic as it sounds!

The Blind Men and the Elephant

by John G. Saxe

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he:
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

New Menu, New Pages

I’ve made a few changes to the site recently:

  • I changed the menu on the top from a large DHTML menu to a very light, fast, mostly CSS-driven menu. The old menu utilized over 30 KB of dense code, but this one has only 12 lines of JavaScript, plus some CSS. I’ve wanted to make the change for a while due to bandwidth considerations. It’s not a problem yet, but if this site keeps growing in popularity (and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down), it soon would’ve become a problem. As it was, that menu alone accounted for nearly a quarter of all my traffic. This should reduce the server load considerably.
  • The “About” pages have been expanded into a little “about” section; About Central is the index page to the section.
  • The Colophon page has some new information.
  • There’s a new fun page, The Star Wars Fan Film Page, where I share my favorite Star Wars fan films.