Reality Trumps Words — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Reality Trumps Words

Nature as the First Bible

Reality Trumps Words
Friday, January 23, 2015

Sadly, the over idealization of books and reliance upon books (which means words, which are by necessity dualistic), may have kept us from mystical experience and the deeper knowing of reality as it is. People tend to confuse and substitute words for reality itself.

The word “clergy” means the separated ones. And how did we become so separate? In part, by reading books for ten years and going off to academic seminaries, which usually had little to do with the natural world beneath our feet and around us and above us. Then we also do our rituals inside buildings, which may be beautiful, but are human constructs separating us from the consolations and the discomforts of nature for the most part. We clergy may assume that we are ahead of the “lay people” because of our book education, but we’re finding again and again that this isn’t necessarily true. Often those taught by the hard knocks of reality seem to know more about what really matters.

What Owen Barfield calls original participation, what Karl Jaspers calls pre-axial, and what Ken Wilber calls pre-rational all describe an earlier, simpler consciousness that knows reality intuitively and immediately, without so many mental filters. Simply by watching the sky, birds, trees, seasons, darkness, and light, people knew they belonged to Something Bigger. And even better, they lived in an enchanted universe where everything else belonged too. (How many sermons have you heard that seemed to emphasize how you didn’t belong?!) So called primitive peoples often knew this by listening, observing, and living inside of nature. They didn’t have all the distractions that we have, of course. The natural cycles of darkness and light, growth and death, winter and spring—which were everywhere all the time—were their teachers.

Prior to the invention of the written word and the printing press, the way God made God’s self available was through all of the creatures, seasons, and cycles of life and death. The wondrous nature of the world itself is the universal religion that precedes all later religions. It seems we need nature to smack us upside the head to move us out of head and into experiencing reality.

Gateway to Silence:
Let all the earth bless the Lord.

Adapted from Soul Centering through Nature, disc 2 (CD, MP3 download);

and A New Cosmology: Nature as the First Bible, disc 2 (CD, MP3 download)

Image Credit: The Laas Geel cave paintings (detail), Lass Geel, Somalia, Horn of Africa (9,000–3,000 BCE)
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