Saturday, September 18

Reflection on names and things

I recently watched an interview with Dr. Richard Feynman, a nobel laureate in physics and a truly remarkable man. One of his fundamental formational moments occurred when he was a boy while taking walks in the woods with his father. During these walks, his father would point out different plants and animals and encourage the boy to observe their behaviours. At one point he mentions about a certain bird, where the father rattles off the name of the animal in a dozen different languages and then says "and knowing all of these names, you still know nothing about the bird itself".

I wonder if that isn't a problem we generally have, confusing the name for the thing, the form for the essence. Some faith traditions have a myriad of laws, rules and customs which are ostensibly intended to help the faithful come closer to the Divine. In practice, however, many seem to be so caught up in the forms of things that they become distracted from the essence. Others are adamant in their eschewal of the forms of things to the point that the non-forms becomes a ritual in and of itself, again distracting from the essence.

In eastern meditation, proper breathing techniques are important and by focusing on the breathing, it permits a quieting of the mind. But there is also a danger of becoming fixated on the 'proper' techniques and breathing becomes laboured, rather than natural.

What if, rather than being concerned about what Tradition and Reason and Scripture has to say about any specific thing....what if a person would just breathe. Don't worry about the ontological or christological implications, don't become tied up with what others are saying or doing about things. Don't worry about if it's heterodoxy or heresy, just....

"Follow your nature and accord with the Way,
Saunter along and stop worrying.
When your thoughts are tied you spoil what is genuine."

Believe, do good and don't be a dick. The essence of it.

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