Wednesday, March 3, 2010

warning sign

It's a good warning, I think:

Everyone who longs for something picks a hero -- an indicator that what is longed for is attainable or has been attained. Books, teachers, saints, creations ... whatever supports the longing for a similar attainment.

And those supports are revered or venerated or go into the arsenal of proof that what is longed for is not just some pipe dream. For the moment, what is longed for may seem to be out of reach, to stand in the distance, to exist on some higher or other plateau and be worthy of a from-afar veneration.

And it's OK as far as it goes -- having examples and striving to emulate those examples.

But, too, I think it is important: To the extent that something is seen from afar, to the extent that it is venerated, to that extent precisely a barrier to the experience of that longed for experience is erected. The greater the veneration the higher the barrier.

Worshiping Jesus (to pick just one example) is another way of putting Jesus' teachings in the coat closet. It is OK and it is certainly understandable, but the fact remains: The longing cannot actually be realized so long as the separation of belief and worship and elevation remains.

So I would suggest it as a warning. Not as something to pretend we are not all capable of or actually do -- just as a warning to ourselves: The greater the veneration and the greater the separation and the more lofty the belief ... the further from the essence of what we so long for in sometimes heart-rending ways.

It's not bad or naughty or sinful. No almighty something-or-other will hit you on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper if you separate yourself in this way. Veneration draws us forward. But it is something to keep an eye on ... the greater the veneration, the greater the distance from what you long for or venerate.

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