To swoon, to surrender, to melt like warm wax, to be absorbed ... anyone who has had an orgasm knows perfectly well that such things are part and parcel of human existence.
And having done it once, who would not seek to do it again? This is home and home is to die for.
A scrumptious death that no amount of intellectual distance or emotional poetry can compass.
And bringing that at-homeness into some wider circle of life -- riding the commuter train, in the classroom, eating dinner, repainting the bathroom, fighting with a friend, tying a shoelace ... yes, yes and again yes.
But where anyone might vouch from experience for the reality of this easy swoon, still it is not so easy to do it again ... to call it up as one might ask the waitress for a second cup of coffee. This joy is clearly ours, but that does not mean that what is ours is at our beck and call.
On a guess, I would say that spiritual endeavor can take some of its cues from this longing to be widely at peace and happy in some complete and indubitable way. To be utterly free and at peace. To surrender and find there is no loss at all. Yummmmmm!
One of the ways to seek out what has been known before is to join with others who are similarly seeking -- to gather and gain the strength of conviction and purpose, to pray mightily, to create an environment devoted to what, after the experience has waned, a lot of people might seek out anew. We rely on and are comforted by the notion that, no, we are not crazy, or if we are, at least we have company. We gather and regather strength. Where conviction wanes (maybe I just made the whole thing up), there is a revivifying of effort, determination and belief.
The upside of organized spiritual endeavor is the support of individual effort or determination. The downside is that no one can have an orgasm for you. Relying on others, no matter how wonderful the feeling and support, no matter how righteous and 'true,' no matter how philosophically sensible and warming by agreement ... simply cannot fill the bill. This is not a criticism of group-think and occasional fanaticism. It is, for my money, just a fact, something to be aware of. The inferences anyone might draw from this fact are not so much that we all have to wander away into some burning desert, alone and unsupported, but more sensibly that where we may draw sustenance from a group effort, still that sustenance is not the same as an actual-factual orgasm, actual-factual clarity, actual-factual joy... actual-factual at-homeness.
So there is a usefulness to the group and it is not to be underestimated. And simultaneously there is some recognition that the usefulness of the group and its group-think is something to be wary of within our own hearts. Just because everyone may agree that a swooning clarity is truer than white bread is not good enough to provide that white bread.
And so there is an investigation that is supported by the group -- a bit of discipline that allows each and every participant the opportunity to sneak up on his or her own joy.
No one can own that joy or codify it.
No one can be owned by it.
But they can express it.
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