Sunday, May 13, 2007

Separation of Church and ???

Church Steeple, Warner, NH, May 2007, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 52mm, Exposure 1/125 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

We have this thing about separation of church and state. And I guess I'm all for that, given the alternatives we see in too many places around the globe.

But we are strong proponents of education. Which is what -- learning how to learn, and gaining knowledge, which hopefully will lead to wisdom.

And what about our spiritual wisdom? Where does that come from? Is it only from individual journeys, prompted by mid-life crises or that calm, quiet voice from within? Perhaps it is it unteachable? Must it be found only on a self-guided path of discovery?
You are not your body.
Your body is not you.

You are not the doer.
You are not the enjoyer.

You are pure awareness,
The witness of all things.

You are without expectation,

Wherever you go,
Be happy!

-- Ashtavakra Gita 15:4
Such simple words. I find a resonance in them. And I wonder why this took almost 50 years. Would they make any sense at all at an earlier age? Do they make any sense at all to you?

Sometimes, I just wonder.

A public-domain English translation of the Ashtavakra Gita is available for those that would like to read more.


Anonymous said...

Resonance with such simple words after almost 50 years...why did it take so long, you wonder? An alternative point of view is this: There is nothing simple about those words, why have you been so lucky to resonate with them after only 50 years? How many of your fellow beings who walk the earth with you still can see nothing in those words at all? How many? Perhaps most of humankind who walk the earth? How is it that what you see in those words so clearly can remain so hidden from them? How many lives would they need to live before it become clear? Is this a cause for rejoicing? Is that possible when so many still can not see? JH

Steven Crisp said...


You make a really great point. It is so easy to be blind to where we are in our development, and how things would look from a different perspective.

Can a fish appreciate the water it swims in?

I like your interpretation, JH. It makes me smile. And your last thought is so penetrating. How could anyone rejoice while so many still cannot see?

But that almost sounds judgmental, doesn't it? Those who are right and who are wrong. Those who have tasted truth and those that have not. So much pain (and blood) has come from that perspective.

I guess it just brings me back to wondering. But now I will smile while doing so.

Thanks for the visit and wisdom, JH.

Anonymous said...

About your comment regarding almost sounding judgmental...

If someone does not know
"something", does that mean they are wrong?

By being "right" we set ourselves in opposition to others who are "wrong". But does "knowing" ever make us feel opposed to those others who do not know?

When one is right & another is wrong, the result is conflict. But, when one knows & another does not know, there is no conflict.

In fact, it is likely that the
"knower" will want to share the knowledge.

Where does the desire to share knowledge come from? Is it a naturally arising form of compassion?

Right & Wrong = Conflict

Knowing & Not Knowing = Sharing, Compassion, Community

Steven Crisp said...


I think you are exactly correct. If this is an "egoless" knowing, then there really should be no conflict.

And perhaps that is a good test as we find ourselves on this path of discovery or uncovery.

To the extent that a position or approach "benefits" the ego, it is somewhat suspect, worthy of reconsideration.

To the extent that the ego gets no boost, then the position or approach more likely "scales" and is more likely to yield, as you point out, sharing, compassion, and community, vice conflict.

Intrinsic in that ego-test is nonjudgmentalism. For who would wish to be "right", to be validated -- but the ego.

Otherwise, it is a "knowing" -- a direct experience. Niether good nor bad, right nor wrong, it just "is".

And I expect with that comes an awareness that this experience may differ for others, and that words are a poor medium for communication.

Hence we are less quick to highlight our "differences"; indeed, those may be nothing more than semantics, or the impossibility of describing the ineffable.

Thanks for your insights, Anon. They are very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hello Steven,

Why did you take 50 years??? I presume it is a quite simple human's pattern of perceptions.We begin learning or getting use to the simple "either/or" in the first case, you know the good and bad, the dualities, the two sides of a coin, the competitions etc..the binary pattern...the basic of the computer..the brain.Then the brains got a little smarter and some of them just want a little more share of the pie.This ended up with some having more than others and a few can have alot and the majority share the little left over...we have a hierarchical paradigm...a pyramid. A system where all are done by a few at the top of the pyramid and the majority just tag along without knowing what is happening.The line of hierarchy could be so very long that it ended up linear in paradigm..the mass is ignorant of what is happening and when or how it all begins.Then one begin to look at the end of the line to find the starting or ending points. If the line had already stretched so very far away it will just take a life time to find the ends and when stretch to infinity or around the globe, the line actually ended up got the answer.So Steven, you just stayed 50 years in the binary and linear part of brain..thats all.Now the beauty part of the paradigm is that we are actually not only circular. We are more beautiful than circular. As indicated by the helixical DNA and the universe's pattern,we are actually SPIRAL and maybe even cylindrical by extension of the circle.
Remember your posting about the circular rainbow.Does it matter which part you are on in the rainbow...they are all the same. Does it matter when you start or end..50 years or 100 years..they are all the same. Finally when the sun or the moisture is gone, the whole colorful rainbow will just vanish. The whole circular paradigm will also where...the spiral...the cyclindrical...
Wish you a beautiful day.

Steven Crisp said...

Many thoughts, Anon. I'm not sure I know what to make of them all, but I thank you anyway for the time you took to share them, and for the visit. Best.

Anonymous said...

Hello Steven,

Sorry to have used confusing geometries as metaphors. Human life is just like geometries. It keeps on forming and integrating and it gets more and more complex and of course more beautiful. If you have interpreted the quote at anytime along a geometry, it is still pure...just pure consciousness and pure don't have to wait 50 years. On top of that when we reached or thought we have reached the final uniconsciousnes or enlightenment..just like the beautiful is still an illusions.There are still endless geometries to be seen.Assuming you are infront of the rainbow and the sun starts to set slowly backwards and the rainbow will hence retreat.If your camera is telescopic, it will capture the rainbow as still circular but going smaller and smaller.Now if one see it as a video..a continuous movement it will looked like a cone.But in actual fact it is cylinder..the circle is just moving away and it looks smaller.Now again if one breaks up the lights by moving the sun backward faster..its cone of lights will look like multiple the galaxies.Hence it keeps changing and becoming more and more complex and beautiful.The point is our consciousness may be the same and enlightenment may also be the same as geometry.After enlightenment or uniconsciousness or the rainbow, there is not all blissfulness, there may be more complex nature or obstacles to be faced yet.Suffice to say,at the same time,it is always pure consciousness along the line..the curve..the circle..the rainbow..time is irrevalent.
Hope this clarify the point. A very good day to you.

Steven Crisp said...

Anon, your patience with me is admirable. I still have not reached a resonance with your metaphor, but hey, words are like that -- a very poor substitute for ideas, let alone the ineffable.

"After enlightenment or uniconsciousness or the rainbow, there is not all blissfulness, there may be more complex nature or obstacles to be faced yet."

Yes, I agree with this. We are not striving for some end-state, that removes the sources of suffering in the world. Rather, I would say, an understanding that the suffering is caused by a craving or clinging to those illusions, which by definition (given our earthly mortality) must end. So the blissfulness is not a removal of these challenges and obstacles, but rather, a gracious acceptance and detachment from them.

"Suffice to say, at the same time, it is always pure consciousness along the line..the curve..the circle..the rainbow..time is irrevalent."

Yes, time is a very fascinating construct. We begin to see glimpses of our own hand in its creation when we recognize the relativistic properties of matter, and marvel at "spooky actions at a distance" as Einstein once said (only to be confirmed through laboratory experiments, post mortem).

(Only someone as unique as Einstein could conceive of an experiment to prove a position he did not believe in, and then after his death, have the experiment in fact show he was wrong. Now that is true genius.)

Thanks, Anon, for your continued efforts to communicate with me.