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Reply To: The Air We Breathe

#73957

James et al,

Thank you for posting the two links above. Yes, it is language that often positions us to think in dualities and to some extent this is easy-we choose a side and stay there. What is more difficult is to remain in the centre-to have to consider the tremendum fascinosum, because it requires a reconsideration of how we are thinking. There is always fear associate with such a leap but I think it is more life supporting. Perhaps we will at the very least eliminate some of the conflict that is based on thinking in this dual way that Campbell outlines in his interview with Moyers.

Consider also the wonderful experience of the mystery itself-we have become so arrogant to believe we know it all -this pandemic has proven it. Science is a gift that allows some ability to understand how we may deal with illness such as this one, but only on a certain level. There is a mystery here-pandemics continue to visit us -to invite us back to the mystery of it all. Viruses are not conscious of doing evil or good. They do “virus things”- invade, search a host, replicate, infect. God did not send it either-as Campbell points us-we are ill equipped to capture this in language. Nonetheless, I think myths can at least point us to this great mystery. I like the Hindu story of Brahma and the three gods that in conjunction with Brahma [Vishnu and Shiv] create the universe that is vast,  seemingly unending, and lead us to the brink of the mystery-Vishnu-the Lord of Speech seems only to provide us with some tools of expressing the mystery-not understanding it , but rather, being conscious it exists. We spend a life time in pursuit of understanding the mystery -the wise one is the one that understand it is not possible-but we should not stop trying. For me, humankind has created some of the most beautiful expressions of what this mystery might mean-poetry, fine art, music. Campbell expresses this in his sojourn into the Chartres. It is a sojourn into the mystery that is the transcendent. Poets express using the metaphor-the poet/philosopher Levinas understood this in his ethics of substitution. The metaphor in not the thing-in-itself. Rather it is the thing that points us to the transcendent.

We need not spend our time trapped in the duality we have as humans created. We can experience the full aspect of what it means to be alive. I found that this is profoundly given to us in the film version of Lord of the Rings as the wise man, Gandolph tells Frodo that even Golum [the evil] has a role to play on the grand stage of life.