A Nimbus for All

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Human imagination paints light, by tradition, as a nimbus glorifying the head of saints and saviors. Yet scriptures and mystics have affirmed the omnipresence of the light of Deity. Where then to justly locate such gold? Let us paint broadly according to omnipresence. Let us assign light lavishly to myriads of heads. Best even to leave out no one, not a single head without its nimbus of gold-colored light. Let our prophecy be this, that we affirm the glories that surround us in people and in things. Assign then a nimbus to all, and even to the long stretch of faces through history and on to far horizons of future worlds.

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And if we find those who have forgotten their glory, let them see at least the memory of it reflected in the clairvoyance of optimistic eyes. And for those who seem lost and faded to dark—regard them with realistic gaze, but also through the seed of future light, for it may be that patient angels–who plan for all time and all worlds–will have their way with them at last.

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The Saint Makers

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Saints of actual virtue, without bureaucracy or churches, shine bright in life and death. But people like to roundup numerous human intercessors and are fond of titles and royal attire. It’s advantageous for church leaders to create saints, the better to awe followers, the better to consolidate power, the better to give each one the desired personal object of devotion. But why must objects of devotion be the province churches and conventional religions? Do not objects of devotion surround us at every turn of life? And why should the modes of reverence be prescribed by ancient scribes and conclaves of old men? Saint makers, power brokers, strategists, bureaucrats—how will pure devotion flourish under the weight of such medieval inheritance?

The memory of some glows unrealistically white in death. Well good for reverence and good for optimism, but especially good if we could simply love the good without so much devoted whiteness of perception, and without intercession of plastic priesthoods. Let all good works be approved without layers of ceremony and the collective judgments of old men.

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Whatever is good beneath robes is nourished from within. I bow before it. But how many royal layers does it take to suffocate a good man? We can survive the surround of old stones, but heavy walls of thought and emotions shut out most of the light.

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We love the beautiful, but remnants of the beautiful are overlaid with ages of human error, and worldly saint makers compete with sanity and simplicity. The half-deceptions, the old dirges, the crazy human mix suffocates slowly–we learn sleepwalking with just enough real magic to keep us circling. Churches bind with nets of ancient magic, and the sins of the devoted are washed imaginatively white– for a price. The magic is neither black nor white, which suits the lazy, sleepy median. Ugliness woven with threads of truth serves millions, and remains a distinctly human concoction.

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And to those who have subjugated women for ages, to those whose minds run in stagnant theological rivulets, to medieval theologians and politicians—to these I say the church of stone and worldly power is dead. Service lives, and virtue lives, but its needs are simple and unconfined. But the spider web of theology does not serve and is dead; control by fear is dead; materialism and stones and worldly power is dead; half-truth is dead. Let the last clamors of prejudice depart into silence.

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I expect in death that saints have a ceiling of stars and sky yet I cannot but think that love of old stones dies. Certainly it pales next to the grand canyons of earth or any of the billion lights in the deep sky. It surely pales next to the greater canyons cut by curving walls of stars. I think stardom and the star-dome takes on new perspective in the light of death, and I cannot think a single great soul approves being named a saint.

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Psyche: the Fiery Angel

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A fiery angel comes to live with us, in her face the memory of all we have known, in her all the fiery angels of past ages. Her hand traces the brightest patterns of life, the hidden structures of worlds and time. With her, into the earth for a time, to sleep, to dream, and finally to wake, until now we see the creative, the essence of ourselves, the soul incarnate. Near her, the face of the whole world shines with fluid light. Near her the obvious invisible flame, and in this the world of subtle pattern, the flow of deep purpose, the great mystery. We live in this flame in our true aspect, and in it are all the faces of love in all times.

Behind the Mirrors of Illusion

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My image in the mirror is illusion, another not-me. Light bounces from body to mirror to eye and mysteriously paints another not-me in the brain. I look down on this image and name it. The name is an unsatisfying apparition, and when I pass the name to you it remains a curious ghost. Yet behind the mirror, behind the image, behind the word, behind these into the vast heart of light, I see the foundation that makes all illusions visible.

Psychologies and Pathologies of Absolute and Relative

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Our ordinary sense of time and space appears closely related to brain consciousness, our sense of time being different in dream or vision where we’re more separate from the physical body. Usually, what we’re conscious of in the brain is mostly confined to a narrow part of the present life with little or no vision of distant past or future. People sharply divide time into past, present, future, and often with compression into a dense material now of “eat drink and be merry.” There is usually no prophetic sense, no sense of timelessness, no consciousness of the vast sweep of evolution to disturb the illusion of the material “now.”

There is practical benefit in the sense of timelessness. For instance, the great majority of things we ordinary time-bound types get angry about are as nothing when viewed from sufficient spiritual altitude. It reminds me of the story of a great soul who repeatedly struck a match only to have it blown out by the wind. His friend noticed his extraordinary calm in the midst of this and asked:

“Don’t you ever get impatient?”

“Why should I?,” he answered, “I have eternity in front of me.”

But our sense of the infinite is often not strong enough to release us from bad habits and unhappy reactions to people and circumstances. Moreover, even our spiritual aspirations add fuel to fires of our problems. Whether from spiritual aspirations or more material motives, the relativistic part of us is imbued with a sense of urgency and dissatisfaction with things as they are. We feel “There is no time to lose.” But there is or can be, at the same time, a more serene self, undisturbed by unfolding events; it is self touched by the timeless. In one of his poems Robert Browning writes, “God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world.” Many mystics down the ages have voiced a similar impression. The mystic says, “Time does not exist,” and we have all the time in the world; the practical self deals with urgent issues. We have one aspect of truth in timeless terms and another aspect in the practical relativistic world of time.

Overemphasis on the relative or the timeless yields different pathologies, but health must be in balance. After repeated attempts we are impatient when the match fails to light. It is because we ourselves are not on fire with the realization of the infinite. If we live too much in the urgency of the moment we fail, yet if we are divorced from practical labor and responsibility we also fail. So it seems we must coordinate heaven and earth, the transcendental and the practical–perhaps then to strike a golden mean, to act rightly in the world while in continuity with the infinite.

Morphing with Light