Monday, February 2, 2015

The Simplicity and Humility of the One: Religion without Walls

Trinidad Bay CA
While hiking along the bluffs of College Cove near Trinidad CA, a bold idea struck me. What if the notion of God's simplicity, oneness and all-powerfulness were non-starters, just human ways to recreate living metaphors of kingship, fatherhood or hierarchy. What if oneness were more akin to the sea or the wind--the humblest and least structured of the elements. Maybe, the aim of worship is just to relax and dissolve, to loosen the grip of everyday fears and anxieties on us, kind of like being in the shavasana or corpse posture that seals and concludes many Western yoga classes. Why extol the powerful and transcendent when a unifying breath or a dissolving immersion into the sea sends us into a healthier and more harmonious state?

Perhaps the Shabbat of Judaism is a mirror of and a pathway to this state of simple unity and restoration. Complexity and structure may surf on the wind and water, emerging from the primordial and fluid oneness. We, created in the image of the Divine, might alter our lifetime goals, if being like God were similar to merging with the breath or the ocean or taking Shabbat or lying in shavasana.

After experiencing this inverted intuition about the Divine, I returned to the hiking trail. I met a couple seated in rickety portable chairs right next to a verdant grove of Sitka Spruce. We talked about how these bluffs were like a church or synagogue or mosque without walls. One of the two said that he had written a poem entitled, "Holy Communion" about this very spot where they were sitting.

A religion without walls is a turning inward toward simple peace and a humble turning outward toward community--a community of rocks, spruce and other fellow wayfarers.

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