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Reply To: The Way of Art and Two-Way Roads” with Mythologist Craig Deininger”


Hi Whitney and Stephen,

At last I find a moment of leisure to respond to your words. Whitney, I hear you on what Caroline Myss shares regarding thinking about “God” and experiencing “God.” And how the ‘stuff that animates things, animates within us.’ And in the case you shared, all this through a dark blue ribbon with strands of gold woven into it.

From there paths of inquiry open up, like symbol, or beauty as a catalyst, or equally, the rational investigation of the distinctions between thinking and experiencing. But I don’t want to follow any of those and instead jump to the end of your post where I think you provide an answer as good as any for all of us (ironically in a question): “Was it not the numinosity evoked by that simple object that connected us beyond ourselves?”

Not to intentionally complicate matters, but I don’t even think I’ll follow the “numinosity evoked by the object”-part, even though it offers itself to the wide world of symbol-approach, the whole connotation (or experienced connotations) behind or beyond the image, which is of great value. And I think you have a priceless symbol here, and will leave it at that.

The reason I keep writing about everything I don’t want to write about is because these topics are precisely what I do want to get to the heart of, and I’m thinking on this Sunday morning that in going beyond them, I may perhaps get nearer to them (which is a procedure that your insights inspired).

How is this? Specifically, it is with the phrase you shared: “connected us beyond ourselves.” Wow! What that means, well, I could make some decent guesses, I suppose. But what it does when I read it, now that’s where it opens up. For one, it feels like it reminds me of something I’ve always known but rarely remember. I am attentive to it also because it’s a paradox, and paradoxes seem to provide some of the deepest truths, whether in the form of Zen koans or the uncertainty principle in quantum physics, or in literary irony, etc., etc.

And now I have to digress to progress. Again! (last time, I promise). Just to get into the spirit of paradox, into the beyond-ourselves, instead of defining what one is and flattening it out, let me share my all-time favorite paradox so it can simply “do” what it does and let that be the definition:

A monk asked his master Tozan, who was weighing some flax: What is Buddha?                                    Tozan said: This flax weighs three pounds.

…(ten minutes later)… I just love that. Anyway, back to your paradox of connecting beyond ourselves. If a dark blue ribbon with gold threading is somehow involved in transporting you and your mother beyond youselves where you connect in some “beyond-you” space, then I think you are also getting into that “all that is” region that you mention earlier. Which I think we all have tasted of to whatever degree, and each in their own unique circumstances (otherwise everyone would be lined up around the block for blue ribbons threaded with gold). Lucky for you, they’re all yours.

So, “connecting beyond ourselves?” I have no idea what it means or how it works. But I know it’s true. And it’s that kind of knowing that we could never prove. And more importantly, it’s the kind that we’d never need to. And so, as your write in the very beginning of your post: “The difference between thinking about ‘God’ and experiencing ‘God.'”