Thursday, June 4, 2009

Insight, Mindfulness, and God

…the blazing fire, by means of that flame which burns ardently with a gentle breath, offers to the human a white flower, which hangs in that flame as dew hangs on the grass. It’s scent comes to the human’s nostrils, but he does not taste it with his mouth or touch it with his hands. And thus he turns away and falls into the thickest darkness, out of which he cannot pull himself. And that darkness grows and expands more and more in the atmosphere.

Hildegard of Bingen Book Two: The Redeemer and Redemption, Vision One, The Redeemer (from her Scivias as translated by Mother Columba Hart, OSB, and Jane Bishop. Creation and Christ: The Wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen. New York: Paulist Press, 1996: pp 49-50)

In this passage, I particularly love the phrase ‘that flame which burns ardently with a gentle breath.’ That combined with a delicate white flower offered hanging on the flame bring together some apparently impossible images. I see it as an invitation to come into direct contact with the source, with wisdom, with God, if the word God does not limit your openness to further unfolding of God’s self to you.

I understand here an invitation to tasting and living the experience of God, to not getting lost in discussion, philosophizing about God, assuming that with our minds alone we can know God, but instead to fully live the experience. We can easily get lost and out of touch with what is real through the creations of our minds, getting further and further removed from what is true. Reason has its place, but it is a human tendency to get lost in the concepts, removing our selves from our own immediate experience, our open invitation to meet this flower and gentle breath of the flame in any and every waking moment.

Buddhist practices support this understanding and practice of the Christian message. For the Buddhist practice does not speculate about God. It just says, live your life with integrity. Explore and trust your direct experience. Combined with a Christian perspective, if you live your life with integrity, tasting and experientially exploring the fullness of all your ways of knowing, you will meet God face-to-face. You will live God.