NOTE TO SELF, BASED ON QUAKER TESTIMONIES OF INTEGRITY, SIMPLICITY, PEACE, EQUALITY, AND COMMUNITY:

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.
2. Do what you say, say what you think, think what is true.
3. Subtract superfluities from your life, speech, desires and thoughts.
4. Don't initiate aggression against the persons or property of others, nor support people who do, including the people who "constitute" the government.
5. Respect life and natural law.
6. All people are endowed by their Creator with equal and inalienable rights to the earth and to the fruits of their own labor, and a "Citizen's Dividend" funded by a "Single Tax" on the unimproved value of land and other natural resources would be the fairest way to protect these rights.

For supporting materials, see the Archive and the Recommended Reading and Videos section at the bottom of this page.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Master, to whom shall we go?"

In fiddling around with this blog I've endeavored, in the Recommended Reading section at the bottom of the main page and in the introductory "Note to Self" at the top, to cover all the important bases, to highlight and provide some justification for those ideas and ideals that appear to me of the highest importance. In doing so I've detected a relative absence of supporting material for the most important ideal of all, which is expressed in the commandment to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul."

To those who don't believe in God in the first place I can't offer any proof of His existence that I think would be compelling. I can only offer the testimony of my own perhaps incommunicable sense that we can directly know and experience the existence of God, and the argument of so-called Reformed Epistemology, that it is rational to believe in God independently of evidence or argument. But I would also hold up for consideration the first part of Peter's response to Jesus' asking the Twelve Apostles whether they wanted to join the many disciples who, because of His hard sayings, had stopped following Him (John 6:66-69). Peter's response was, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Of course, I don't have in mind a scriptural argument for those who don't believe in God, let alone believe in Scripture. Rather, what I have in mind is the insight, characteristic of Plato and the neoplatonists and the many others who have followed in their philosophical footsteps, into the relative unreality of all of the temporal, changeable, and corruptible things that make up the world. It seems to these philosophers that a beautiful or wise person, who is here today and gone tomorrow, has less of the characterisitics of reality than the idea of Beauty or Wisdom by which we recognize and appreciate instances of beauty or wisdom. Meister Eckhart put it thusly: "All creatures are a pure nothing. I don’t say they are insignificant or a something: they are absolute nothing. Whatever hasn’t essence does not exist. No creature has essence, because the essence of all is in the presence of God. If God withdrew from the creatures for just one moment, they would disappear to nothing." And: "God is not only a Father of all good things, as being their First Cause and Creator, but He is also their Mother, since He remains with the creatures which have from Him their being and existence, and maintains them continually in their being. If God did not abide with and in the creatures, they must necessarily have fallen back, so soon as they were created, into the nothingness out of which they were created."

So, again, "To Whom shall we go?" The deepest conclusion to which the above reflections lead is not the unreality of all creatures and things but our essential "identity" with, through our participation in, the unchangeable Be-ing of all beings, the Ground of our reality, in Whom "we live and move and have our being." The realization in time of this abiding Truth is our salvation, while apart from God we can do, and are, nothing.

Such truths by their metaphysical and mystical nature are better understood through insight and experience than through words. Nevertheless, to help complete the philosophy collection I've found myself assembling on this blogspot, I've linked, in the Recommended Reading section and in the "Note to Self," to Angelus Silesius' Cherubinic Wanderer, a 17th century collection of short mystical verses that I've long found congenial to my sense of reality. Here is one couplet that speaks to me:

Not first upon the Cross God let Himself be slain,
For see! He lieth dead there at the feet of Cain.