“Only connect,” wrote E.M. Forster. I’ve been very touched by the comments–by the conversation–emerging in this blog. It gives me faith–not just that Parabola can been made new for new times–but in that mysterious process that allows like-minded people to find one another. Earlier this week, I spoke on the phone with Bob Toth from the Merton Center for Contemplative Living. He told me that he can’t think of another journal out there that is a better vehicle for Thomas Merton’s own vision of helping people find a way to a more contemplative way of life. How wonderful to hear this! But it struck me as he spoke that Parabola really is a community–and part of a larger community.
A parabola (in our context) is the bridge, the arc, the covenant that connects the Highest with the individual. It is the promise that life has meaning–and that the Highest can make itself known in depths of individual lives. It’s been my dream to make the journal Parabola vibrant and relevant, deep but practical–really meant to be used in peoples’ lives. But I see more and more clearly that what we really need to do in this world is make ourselves available, empty ourselves, so we can serve a purpose greater than our own. So please comment, if you are inspired. Or blog and twitter. If you have talents or interests you would like to share, let us know. And tell your friends! Let’s let this be a different kind of community, the place where spiritual traditions meet. (I can’t help thinking of it as meeting at the online river).
Have a beautiful weekend. Here’s a great quote from Merton:
“Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, an awareness of the reality of that Source.”
10 thoughts on “Meeting At the River”
A bridge to the Highest, I like that a lot. We are indeed childern of the Most High, as mentioned in the Psalms. Life is a promise, a promise and an opportunity to reach our highest spiritual potential. Do we call this enlightenment or salvation, or both?
To tell you the truth, I am humbled by the conversation and by the many connections I see as the movement of each line (thread or Sūtra) curves out to each of you and then back towards myself. They are the sutures that hold us together, they are the ties that bind the world. What kind of reality would we experience without these ties, without the relationships we hold dear within any community?
Tracy I don’t know if you feel as I do, but our attempt at communication has left a naw in my feelings. On self-examination, it’s painfully evident that I came on strong, perhaps a little too strong, but if you had cared to take it I gave your blog something too, something deep and wide, or at least I tried to. Maybe you couldn’t hear that in the poet’s ego or in the criticism about Parabola and your blog. Of course I could have said things in a more understanding way, but we didn’t get to that part. It seemed to me that so and so said “frightening,” and I was placed in that category of possibly dangerous or deranged or what have you –there is so much fear mistrust among us of, what can I call it?, the shadow–, and you thanked him for it and replied kindly but not as one you would want to make any more comments, or so it seemed to me.
I was simply struck by an article in Parabola about how on the inside of us something knows the up of things. For years now I’ve been trying to publish poetry giving voice to that something, and there appears to be no door open to it. That voice isn’t conventional or mainstream. So you got a little of what I might call art activism, which amounts to my fumbling attempts to get the artistic and spiritual establishment to accept the inner voice in poetry. I can be a better art activist. I can go on, but you get the picture.
Now my concern is this naw in my feelings. You have expressed in this post a desire for continued meaningful communication with those of us reading it, and it seemed that it would be appropriate for me to make this comment, as it is about that. I guess what I’m trying to say is can we try that again, not the poetry part, the attempt at communication, or at least clear a path for that?
Hi Donny: Everyone is welcome to comment, just please keep the others who might read this in mind. It might seem odd to mention the importance of listening in a blog space, but the same rules apply here as in an actual room. Listen to the conversation as a whole and contribute something, if you feel it adds.
I’ve been discovering some resources lately on connections between Buddhism and Christianity. Has there ever been a story in Parabola about such a connection.
Evidently, the ledgend of “Barlaam and Josaphat” is a Christianized version of the story of Gautama Buddha.
Has anyone else explored these connections? Was the ancient world of the 1st Century even more diverse than we have imagined?
Well that’s agreed Tracy. As much as I skim through blogs I think I’ve only made comments on no more than five sites. I don’t have an active blog of my own. Instead I’ve developed what I feel is the essence of that in an e-mail correspondence with friends, and so I don’t feel the need for a blog. My decision here is whether to continue reading your blog and adding to its discussion. Upon reading your most recent entry I must say that one would be a fool not to at least give some attention to anyone trying to actually bridge to the highest. I have to admit I like that too. It’s worded correctly. Neither you nor Parabola are making any claims of being yourselves such a bridge, but you are making it very clear that you aspire to be, at least that’s how I interpret it. I also liked the way you linked this to the individual, down to the practical. Perhaps the deepest truth is also the most useful. My only question is that do you know just how enlightened, divinized, or changed you would have to be to be that bridge, that arc, that covenant, not just to being a better person, but all the way to the highest?
I think you are right. A person would have to be very enlightened, divinized, much changed to be such a bridge. I know it is way, way beyond me. Yet, at the same time, I know I’m capable of a slight shift in attitude, from thinking I am in the center of the universe and totally in control to seeing–at least in moments–that I am not in control. I am part of something larger.
It is possible in moments to be a bridge to a higher world. It isn’t a doing as we usually think of it. It is simply that I (we) can at moments ourselves be connected, unquestionably, with something that comes from The Higher. When I am connected for a moment this connection influences life around me in a way far different from that of my usual states.
In his book, A Voice at the Borders of Silence, William Segal says: “It’s to be related to the highest in one’s self. If one is capable of maintaining this relationship with this vibration, the other force, it will change the world as it changes the individual. It isn’t as if I will become a better painter or you will become a better physician in one great leap. But there will be another element brought into relationships and to one’s life.”
It’s very important to remember that the highest is within us, a breath away.
The Parabola journal holds a special place in my heart. I’m thrilled to discover this blog and the engaged community and conversation taking place. I look forward to being a part of it.