Evil is often defined as “privation of the good.” It would seem then that keeping the good before our eyes is one way to ground oneself in a time of evil goings on.
Speaking of goodness, we need to look to Mother Earth and Father Sky in a time of chaos and upset caused by humans resorting to war, violence and hatred born of what Eckhart calls our “perverted” relationships.” And war is surely a perverted relationship.
There is some good news about Father Sky these days. The Webb Telescope is succeeding in offering us pictures of the wonder-filled and light-filled starry sky even while we await its coming revelations and light pictures from the early origins of our cosmic home. [See “James Webb: ‘Fully focused’ telescope beats expectations”]
This is very important in a time of witnessing the widespread disaster and destruction in Putin’s war in Ukraine. We need to bring the bigger picture, the more-than-human picture, into our consciousness in order to endure the evil in our midst. As the Psalmist says, “look up to the mountains.” Look beyond what humans are doing in order to get some perspective, to taste again the goodness and beauty of existence.
“Fall in love with the world in spite of history,” as Derek Walcott puts it. Drink in the beauty of existence if you are to bear witness to the ugliness and lies and brutality that humans are capable of. Take in the light of the universe, the light of the cosmos from its earliest stages in order to gird yourself for the darkness and suffering that war brings down on us as well.
Light after all is a familiar synonym for the Divine around the world. “I am the light of the world” (Christ). “Be a light unto yourself.” (Buddha) “God’s Presence shines with glorious light.” (Ps. 96) “Yahweh my God, how great you are! Clothed in majesty and glory, wrapped in a robe of light!” (Ps 104)
The Bhagavad-Gita says that Divinity carries a “glaring effulgence, spreading on all sides, like blazing fire or the immeasurable radiance of the sun. Yet I see this glowing form everywhere, adorned with various crowns clubs, and discs.”
The Koran says: “God is the light of the Heavens and the earth.”
The Gospel of Thomas says: “Jesus said: ‘If they say to you: ‘Where are you from? Say to them: ‘We came from the light there, where the light was, by itself. It stood boldly and manifested itself in their image.”
Thomas Aquinas says, “God is light; and one who approaches this light is illuminated, as Isaiah says: ‘Rise, in love, and be enlightened.”
In Buddhism, ignorance means the lack of light. Understanding means “made of light.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Flowing from Global Faiths, pp. 62f., 67-69, 76f.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Four nebulae known for their breathtaking beauty: the Eagle Nebula, the Omega Nebula, the Trifid Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula. Hubble Telescope images; credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Queries for Contemplation
What are your experiences of God as Light and Light as God? Do you return to these experiences in times of chaos and darkness?
One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit