June 22, 2022


Looking Out The Window 04 Oil Paint Rendered
"Tat Tvam Asi" is Sanskrit for "Thou Art That,"
meaning the individual is the Absolute,
or, as the Buddhists say,
"All is Buddha-mind."

It takes but a shift in perspective 
to see that it is so.
That shift in perspective
is known as "Enlightenment,"
or, "Awakening."

As Jesus would say, "The Father and I are one!"

And, speaking of his disciples,
and, by way of implication, 
of all of us as well, he prayed,
"That they all may be one--
as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, 
that they also may be one in us,
And the glory which thou gave me 
I have given them; 
that they may be one, 
even as we are one,
I in them, and thou in me, 
that they may be made perfect as one..."
(John 17:21-23).

Oneness with Christ and with God
was not given any press at all 
in the church that came to be,
but it was all the rage 
in Gnostic Christianity,
which became heresy and blasphemy
in the church that became The Church,
which extinguished Gnosticism as best it could,
and inserted itself between believers
and their God,
making sure they understood they were not God,
and if it weren't for the many kindnesses
of the Church,
they would all burn in hell for sure.

But Jesus said, "Thou Art That!"
And, leaves it up to us
to be who we are, 
or not.

If we take up the claim to be one with God,
we have to take up the work
of living in ways that make us
as close to God as some people get.

The work is there to be done
by all who would do it.
As Jesus said,
"The harvest is plentiful,
but the laborers are few."

Leaving God to wonder,
"Is you is,
or is you ain't,
my constituency?"



Colors of Fern 09/02/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
There is no vocabulary 
for saying what needs to be said,
no words for telling
what needs to be known.

We process our experience
by coming to terms with how things are
and understanding things 
that cannot be told
by living it--
not by thinking it.

Instinct and intuition are understanding.
Connecting dots.
Drawing pictures.
Taking photographs.
Saying, "This is it!"
"Thou Art That!"

Knowing how to cook 
by cooking
and not by reading recipe books.

Knowing how to dance
by dancing
and not by hearing someone
tell us how to dance.

Swimming works by getting wet.
Not by thinking about it.
Bicycle riding
and roller skating...

It is all about knowing without words.

Living is that way.

"Listen to me when I say,
Listen to what knows within,
to what you know just by knowing it.

Hinduism and Buddhism
spend a lot of time talking 
about non-duality.
The Buddha brought this with him
from Hinduism into Buddhism
(I can't figure out what it was
about Hinduism he did not like).

Makes me crazy.
Duality is essential to consciousness.
We can say "Thou Art That!"
because "Thou Quite Clearly Art Not That!"
If "Thou Wert That!"
no one would have to tell you that.
It would go without saying.
It would be quite obvious.
So much so,
no one would think
of making a religion out of it.

Duality is the ground of consciousness
because "This Is Not That"
and therefore can be distinguished from that,
and discerned by virtue of its not-that-ness.

If all were one,
it would be invisible to us
because it would all merge into non-existence.
Which is what happens at death.
We merge back into the oneness
from which we came
and disappear.

Poof! What happened to Jim.
He was just here a moment ago,
and here is his body,
but Jim is not there.
Where is Jim?

Jim dissolved/merged back into
the consciousness
from which he came.

How does consciousness materialize
and then de-materialize?

Life is death.
Death is life.
Loss is gain.
Gain is loss.

Reality--or illusion of reality?

Is reality physical or invisible?
Actual or intangible?
Both at different points 
in the cycle of perception.

Now you see me,
now you don't.
Where am I when you don't see me?
Where is the light 
when you switch it off?
Is it the same light
when you switch it on?

What distinguishes me from you?
Does it matter?
Is it important?
Are we more alike
than we are different?

If death erases the differences,
and we are all one (again),
what became of Jim is not a thing,
because Jim's loss is a drop
falling back into the sea.

He was a drop for a while,
and what a great drop he was,
and now he is not a drop any longer.

And you can't spend a lot of time
in mourning
because you are a drop, too!



Goshen Creek 06/29/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Boone, North Carolina
We live toward our death.
How do we live with death at the end of our life?
How does our death impact the way we live?
What do we mean by the life we live
in light of the fact that we die?
How does dying shape our living?
How can something as inevitable as death
be tragic?
Be a tragedy?
Can it also be comic?
Can death--our death--be a comedy?
What separates tragedy from comedy?

Death is "grave and constant,"
to use James Joyce's term.
And how/why we die determines
if our death is tragic or comic,
or a relief and a burden lifted.

What should we aim for?
How/why should we die?
How should we go about living
in order to die a death
we can be proud of?

Christ was living in the service
of an idea--
an idea of how life should be lived--
that killed him.
And, in light of his death, 
we say, "Of course! It is meet and right
that he died this way!
He should not have died any other way!"

And here, the tragic borders on the comic,
and it is ironic that Dante titled his work
on the process of salvation,
"The Divine Comedy"--
not that it is funny,
but that it is proper and fitting
that it should happen as it does--
and our own salvation hinges 
upon our living in a way 
that deserves our death,
instead of being just a natural way
of coming to the end of our days,
not that we will be killed 
because of what we are doing,
but because what we are doing
is the cause of our living and our dying.
We live and die to do what we are doing.
It is our life
and it will be the death of us.

Living like that carries us joyfully
to our death.
And our life becomes a work of art,
not just something we do to pass the time
between birth and death,
but an intention,
a deliberate, joyful, expression
of who we are,
of our original nature
and the innate virtues 
that are ours to serve and to share.

In that is the tragedy and the comedy
of being who we are,
with joy and glee and grim determination
that nothing shall stop the expression
of what we have come to serve 
and express!


Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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