Archive for the 'reification' Category

From black and white to color, for real

August 2, 2013

I stopped into a local store to buy my mother a little gift for my upcoming visit, and was pleased to see Sue behind the counter.  I also know her as the mother of one of Jordan’s classmates, and she had told me last time I saw her that she was going to have another round of eye surgery.  I think the surgeries have been transplants of the cornea.  I think she had had two over the years, and each time eventually she became functionally blind again afterwards, after some period of time.   She explained why it seemed reasonable to try again — I think her doctor thought her underlying disease is in remission, so the transplants might last longer.  She said she was looking forward to seeing her son’s face for the first time in nine years.

So I asked her how she was doing, since I knew she had had the surgery between that last conversation and now.   She said she was doing pretty well and that she was glad to be coming into the store for a few hours a day now, and that soon she would be getting some glasses.  But already she was thrilled, she said, because for the first time in a long time, she can see color.

Wow.  In the spiritual metaphor business, going from black and white to color is a big favorite.  I often think of “The Wizard of Oz” with Judy Garland.  Or Paul Simon’s songs “Kodachrome” and “My Little Town.”  But here’s someone who has actually had the experience literally, not metaphorically, spiritually, or through art.  Wow.

Of course, this is not to gloss over the fact that Sue copes admirably with a difficult situation.  When she told me proudly she could tell I was wearing a hat, and explained that she wouldn’t have been able to before, I realized just how remarkably well she had learned to compensate before — I had thought she could see better than she had been able to.

Anyway, I love when I see a literal physical manifestation of what I usually think of as a spiritual metaphor.


Who reaches out

December 17, 2012

I was going to write a post about “Fear, pain, and damage” and what seems to me to be going on when people perceive “evil.” I would have talked about how it’s all perfectly fine energy, it’s just that some of it is difficult to process if a person has not sanded down enough of their “flaws,” enough of their humanness.  I would have tried to show how we can get rid of the dualism of “good” and “evil” by realizing that evil is in the eye of the beholder and by subsuming both under “energy.”  I might have talked about destruction being part of the cycle of creation, and that we are better off seeing destruction as just that, and shy away from distinctions like accident, tort, and crime.  I was going to talk about including everybody in our community, and finding a way to mourn for Nancy Lanza and Adam Lanza, too.  (I think, almost paradoxically, that until we maintain a compassionate connection to everybody, we will not resolve the problem of our safety.)  I was going to talk about attachments getting in the way of our clearer perception, about my reaction to watching President Obama reflect his strong attachment to his children in his remarks in Newtown last night.  I was thinking of making the case for celibacy in leadership positions.

And then, as I was crossing the street, I was reminded (because I suspect I’ve had this understanding before) that we need to reach out to God affirmatively because that is the posture in which we are open to receiving God.  Without our having that posture, nothing terribly helpful will happen even if God reaches out to us.  And I thought, trying to communicate that message is probably a more constructive thing to do, rather than trying to get people to see what I see.

Because part of what I see is that we’re not going to reduce the problem of gun massacres by the “mentally ill” by demonizing them, their caretakers, the people who love them (who are able to love them because they connect with something not diseased within them).  We’re not going to resolve the problem by doubling down on our attachment to our children.  I think we need, rather, to spread out more evenly our love and caring to all.  Gun control is fine with me, but I think if we improve our mental hygiene, people’s desire for guns may decrease, so I would include coaching people in general to improved mental hygiene (through teaching coping skills and how to become more self-aware, for example), so I would include that in a broad effort to reduce the presence of guns in our society.

I think I see myself a little like a bleating sheep, or maybe like that cow in the Richard Shindell song “Stray Cow Blues”  — I keep repeating what I perceive and hope it helps.  If people don’t want to hear, I accept that, even if I’m disappointed or frustrated.  I can see my reaction as a form of impatience, maybe even with a little fear mixed in (fear that not enough people will ever perceive clearly), and those are things I can work on.  I think I’ve developed enough detachment to keep doing what I do regardless of its reception.


November 24, 2012

I wonder if reifying something denatures it, reduces it to a manageable size, similar in one respect to the dynamic within Grover Norquist’s idea of reducing something to be small enough to drown in a bathtub.

This idea occurred to me while I was reading about the movement in Texas to have that state secede from the United States.  I thought about some religions’ interpretation that an angel wanted to secede from some part of creation.

I’ve never bought that version.  I’ve always heard it more impersonally, that what’s being perceived was more like a limb falling from a tree during a storm — damaging perhaps but without mal-intent (or intent of any kind, for that matter).

When I read about Texas, I thought, “Well, maybe finally we reduced that thought form [about fallen angels] to a political movement that, while maybe controversial, isn’t profoundly frightening.”

The real issue of The Fall, the one that actually caused so much damage, lay, in my opinion, in how what fell disturbed, and threatened to disrupt, the equilibrium of the system here.  It not only caused some obvious damage, but it imported something foreign to the system into the mix, like a speck of sand in an oyster, and off we went careering towards instability.  There was nothing inherently wrong with that speck of sand, it just didn’t belong to this type of system we have in our world, it was like a piece to one jigsaw puzzle ending up in the box of another puzzle.  The type of puzzle to which it belonged was an unfortunate match for our type of puzzle, but separating out that issue from the nature of the damage from its impact wasn’t easy, because the damage was so difficult to experience or even to observe.  (And returning the piece to the cosmic Lost and Found was also a technically difficult matter.)

So I’m not happy with (some) Texans’ apparent high displeasure with being part of our union, but at least a political quarrel doesn’t produce the appearance of consequences that seem to threaten our existence for eternity.  So in a peculiar or narrow kind of way, I see the this news event as reflecting progress of a different sort.