The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Right Time

Perhaps it’s the right time for me to absorb this message. I’ve long resisted the idea of religious faith. Up till now, my only “reality” has been the one that springs from my intellect, not from my heart.

People have told me this message before. But I was not ready to receive it. And even if I did receive it, I’m not sure I’d know how to make the transition.

But there’s no question I’m more “spiritual” now. I must however find my own way to “God”...

When I was a seminary student, the student body was divided into two camps: the rationalists, who approached the tradition with their minds, as something to be understood and explained; and the mystics, who approached the same tradition with their souls, as something that could never be understood or explained but only experienced. I was strongly in the rationalist camp in those days. We looked down on the others as medieval mystifiers who would never be taken seriously by a congregation of college students. They dismissed us as bearers of a dry, arid legalism which would never reach beyond the top three inches of a person, enlightening the mind but never engaging the soul. We rationalists believed back then that if we could explain religion to people and show them how it made sense, they would be persuaded. After all, we would be dealing with intelligent, reasonable people. Why shouldn’t they listen to reason? We failed to understand that faith, like love, loyalty, hope, and many of the most important dimensions of our lives, is rooted in that vast, dark, irrational area where reason cannot reach and man’s intellect cannot venture.

Today, I am twenty-five years older and wiser, and in fulfillment of Jung’s prediction that in mid-life we go back and fill in the spaces we left blank when we were growing up, I find myself quoting Judaism’s mystical tradition as much as its rational one. Time and again, I turn to books I had no patience for during my student days. I have come to appreciate the value of customs and rituals that “don’t make sense.” There is a cycle of daylight and darkness, of mind and emotion in my inner world even as there is in the world around me. Sometimes our life’s task is to shed light where there is darkness, to make sense of the things that happen to us, to find connections and explain them. But sometimes our life’s task is to accept the darkness, the things that cannot and perhaps should not be explained, as part of the world we live in.

- When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough – The Search for a Life that Matters, by Harold Kushner, © 1986, Pocket Books, New York, p. 111

Yes, I’m filling in the spaces I left blank so many years ago. I’m reading books that I never would have opened prior to my retirement! I’m becoming somewhat mystical.

Like Kushner, I used to be a “rationalist.” But as my good friend Ted pointed out to me not too long ago, I’m mellowing, Dude. I’m starting to see that love is the way. The sickness in our world, as revealed by the fundamentalists (both Christian and Islamic), the neo-conservatives like Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz, the consumerists like 90% of our population, the drug addicts, the lovelorn Gen-Xers, and so on, arises from a basic and profound loss of eros in our lives. And no amount of rationalization nor intellectualization is going to cure it.

I’m finally starting to grow up...


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