This week I have been cranking along on the usual. I finished one poem and started another, still working on the travel memoir and the essay.
My reading has been sporadic, but I have gotten a good chunk of The Starship and Canoe read. Fascinating stuff. Last night at the library I checked out The Swallow by Mary Russell and a book by Octavia Butler both of whose work I’d read Freeman Dyson recommended. I’m also enjoying Pure Act by Michael McGregor, a biography of Robert Lax.
Also at the library I checked out and read last night The Ox-Herder and the Good Shepherd: Finding Christ on the Buddha’s Path (Eerdmans), which is very very good. I have thought about writing just such a book but Hart beat me to it. A beautiful look at discovering the truth of a journey to God in both Christian and Buddhist terms. I could quote a lot of passages but light upon this one:
“The most orthodox Fathers and mystics of the church have always insisted on this. Language about God can never be literal. We are always bound to use analogies to refer to him. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was only echoing what Christian theologians have taught for centuries when he wrote somewhere that ‘God is the direction and not the object of love.’ God cannot be an ‘object’ among other objects. As uncreated being, he is outside every frame of reference we have. St. John of Damascus put the matter succinctly, writing in the eighth century that God ‘is infinite and incomprehensible, and all that is comprehensible about him is his infinity and incomprehensibility.'”
He also quotes Meister Eckhart in a passage that helps me understand my need for zen meditation even though I still believe in Christ and go to Mass weekly. Here is Eckhart:
“The soul must exist in a free nothingness. That we should forsake God [meaning our ideas about God] is altogether what God intends, for as long as the soul has God, knows God, and is aware of God, she is far from God. This then is God’s desire–that God should reduce himself to nothing in the soul so that the soul may lose herself. For the fact that God is called God comes from creatures . . . . This is the greatest honor that the soul can pay to God, to leave God to himself and to be free of him.”
Go with the good.