Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Does God Need To Be Famous?

"We can still remain a free person. Free from what?" Going Home by Thich Nhat Hanh

Writing in his book, Going Home, Buddhist Monk and scholar Thich Nhat Hanh writes, musing about the fame of God, God the Father, as he calls it. He says, "there is another dimension of life that we may not have touched... it is very crucial that we touch it... the dimension of the sky, heaven, God the Father...looking again at water and waves... if we are able to touch them both, you'll be free from all these notions."

Water is not separate from the wave, insists Hanh. We are born into our "spiritual life' when we are encouraged to touch the other dimension, God, the Father. Now this father is not the usual notion of a father; rather it is used by Hanh to point to another reality. "We should not be stuck to the word 'father' and the notion 'father.' So then he writes, "Hallowed be his name,' does not really mean  a name, a mere name."

Lao-Tsu wrote that a name which can be named is not a name at all. Therefore it is important that we be careful with names. They may cause us to become trapped into notions. "Enlightenment means the extinction of all notions." So back to the water and the wave: if the wave should believe in the notion of a wave, then it will not recognize the water. Trapped into the notion of 'wave,' it can never be free because water and wave need one another to be free.

In the same way one must be very careful about the name, Buddha. Hanh observes that,  "use[d] in such a way that it helps the other to be free. Sometimes we think, "I can't really do this..." Yet we can. We really can! We can still remain a free person. "Free from what? Free from notions, free from words. God as a Father does not need fame. Does God need to be famous?" Thinking of God in this way, says Thich Nhat Hanh, is dangerous.

He concludes his talk with a discussion of the Holy Spirit. "The Holy Spirit, the energy of God within us, is the true door. We know the Holy Spirit as energy, not as notions or words. Wherever there is attention, understanding, the Holy Spirit is there. Wherever there is love and faith, the Holy Spirit is there. All of us are capable of recognizing the Holy Spirit when it is present... All of us are capable of doing so, and then we are not bound by, or slaves to notions and words; we know how to cultivate the Holy Spirit."

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