Sunday, 1 December 2013

Scratching the Surface

..........As I chased the elusive figure ahead of me, I found that my progress was constantly hampered by fishing nets hung out to dry. Other nets were in the process of being mended, but laid out in a manner that seemed to be designed to catch my feet. Gradually Jesus was increasing the distance between me and him. The more I tried to hurry, the further away he became.........More nets were being thrown across my path. The actions had about them a greater sense of intent, as if I had to be slowed and stopped. The shore of Galilee suddenly threw up a crop of large rocks surrounded by broad layer of very sharp seashells. That not only slowed me even further, it also made me lose sight momentarily of the man I was chasing. And the fishing boats being drawn up out of the water by Jesus' disciples didn't help. Finally, I called out to the now very distant, fleeing Jesus, asking him to stop. He called back that this was his Way; it wasn't mine..........

              [From my private diaries, and posted in "God Loves You, Tom!" - 29.6.2013]

..........It is no teaching and no instruction that I give you. On what basis should I presume to teach you? I give you news of the way of this man, but not of your own way. My path is not your path, therefore I cannot teach you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life..........
                                                                                       [From "The Red Book" by C.G.Jung]

..........Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves..........
                                                                                       [From "The Red Book" by C.G.Jung]

[The quote from my private diaries was a report of a meditation journey along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The quotes from "The Red Book" were part of a dream sequence experienced by C.G.Jung just prior to the start of the "Great War".] 

In the "L'Abbaye de Boquen" - posted 27.4.2013 - I reported that whilst meditating on the rood screen, I 'heard' the words:-

"You have not even begun to scratch the surface of Christianity."

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Now I am not a religious person - at least not conventionally so - and neither could I claim to be a Christian, although my upbringing was within the culture of Christianity. Nevertheless, today I feel as if I have been refreshed. Whilst intending to come to grips with that indictment delivered in the Abbey of Boquen, hopefully at some time in the near future, I discover that already I have been laying the groundwork, or at least that preparation has been taking place inside me, for this coming venture.

Part of that preparation has been recognising that although I need to experience what the Bible and the religion of Christianity has taught, I am not obliged to throw in my lot with the Church. I think I have always known that, but I needed to be certain that I wasn't simply trying to impose my will on God. As the image of Jesus said on the shores of Galilee, his way is not mine. I need to live my own life, not the life of some image or exemplar. The question might be asked as to why should I need to experience the teachings of the Bible and Christianity at all. The answer to that question is a simple one. My life is geared to discovering truth through the Way of Knowledge. Truth is something experienced through the process of meditation. No truth can be obtained from the printed word, no matter how holy those words may be. In the end, words are nothing more than symbols which point the way. 

So, on this lovely Advent Sunday, the sun is shining and not only on the material world. 


  1. Tom, even though I'm getting ready to go sing Lessons&Carols for Advent I, I hear this message too. The teachings of all Masters point to the Way, but I've always known my own quest toward truth was an inner one; neither Scripture or written prayers were sufficient. I think Jesus was always trying to point people toward self I realization, not slavish following, but that's not how you build a church organization, is it?

  2. I agree with you absolutely Beth. There are spiritually exciting times ahead.

    On a different note, Lucy recently bought some new headphones so that I could hear computer conversations on Indian cooking. They probably cost about a quarter of the purpose-built headphones I need for TV watching. With appropriate jiggling of leads, plugs and connections (electronics was never my strong point; even a physicist isn't good at everything :) )I was able to listen to a radio broadcast through the TV of an Advent service of carols. Such joy!

  3. your post gives me great hope. it's simultaneously very liberating and very frightening to discover that i need to find my own way. after all, it's easier to just follow the paint by numbers of someone else's journey of discovery, but i prefer to do it myself. thank you for this.

  4. Agnieszka; Your comment gives me such pleasure. It is indeed liberating and frightening, but without that release we cannot grow out of spiritual childhood. And I too prefer to walk my own path, wherever that may lead.

  5. Your thoughts today reminded me of another of those zen stories that have surprising relevance for those of us who enjoy reflection:

    The Emperor asked Master Gudo,

    "What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?"

    "How should I know?" replied Gudo.

    "Because you are a master," answered the Emperor.

    "Yes sir," said Gudo, "but not a dead one."

    I hope you continue to savour this beautiful day.

  6. Thank you Susan. And I did savour the rest of the day, finishing with dinner and a superb bottle of red wine. And now to bed.

  7. Yesterday I wanted to write a short sentence but it became a few pages of thinking and I gave up all together. Now, if you and Lucy lived closer.....
    Yes, the sun can shine very deep.

  8. Ellena; I trust your pages of thinking took you to some interesting places.

  9. This is absolutely splendid and so much similar to the writing today of "the Old Geezers", linked on my blog.

    Maybe (he said sardonically) there is some convergence of minds.

    Good one, Tom.

  10. Thank you Bruce. It takes all sorts of ways to achieve convergence, so here's hoping.

  11. While the experience of modern Christianity has jaded me to the point where I avoid going to a service, I believe there is truth and love in the gospels. To find that truth, it seems to me is a worthy activity, but no, it is not important to 'follow Jesus' as though his way was 'the way'.
    Whether we believe Jesus was God come to earth, or a prophet, these teachings have a potential, and yes, they can point the way.

    Thank you for the reminder Tom

  12. Halle; The tragic and thoroughly misguided policy of the Church has been to teach that the Christway - which in reality has been the way of the founding fathers - is the only Way, rather than the pointer towards our own various and individual ways. Thus was martyrdom let loose in the Christian world which in turn seemed to me to become a possible object of idolatry and spiritual pride. Thank you for your comment.

  13. Quite an interesting blog you have, and I'm surprised I haven't stumbled onto it before. Thanks for visiting mine and turning me on to yours. I know very few people who know the Red Book, much less can quote perceptively from it. Memories, Dreams, Reflections is another Jung that I frequently come back to.

    Your reflections in earlier posts on ego are especially interesting. While I tend to subscribe to eastern/Buddhist thought that sees ego as something of an illusion, it's often occurred to me that that its very often a useful illusion that has purpose—a point that seems missing in eastern philosophy. You make that point quite clearly.

    I'll certainly be making your blog a regular visit.

  14. Tom! I agree wholeheartedly that the way must be trod using pointers, not rules and regulations. I've started reading the Tao te ching regularly again. It helps me detach and appreciate a deeply shining sun.

  15. Rouchswalwe; Good to hear from you. Can't say too much at present, life is a little fraught. (We're on a 'caring trip' at present, and all my detachment skills are being tested.) May your sun shine long and deep.

  16. Hullo 'The Geezers', good to hear from you. Looking forward to an interesting exchange of views.