Let us consider more in depth Rabbi Heschel’s teaching on how “the holy is an attempt to raise humanity to a higher level of existence.” To do this we will explore some understandings of the sacred or the holy.
What is a “higher level of existence” that is higher than Evil? What might that kind of existence be? How would we recognize it if we saw it—in ourselves or in others?
I think that two evident qualities of holiness today are: Joy and Courage. Let us first consider Joy.
Otto Rank talked about finding joy in spite of our “mal de siècle,” the evil of our times. He was writing in the 1930’s and died in 1939. He had plenty of suffering in his life, but he stayed committed to a path that avoided bitterness and hatred toward self or others. He learned to empty himself of anger in order to let Spirit in, Joy in.
When I find people who have lived or are living full lives in spite of profound encounters with abuse or oppression of any kind, I admire them. So many souls can be broken by the vicissitudes of living. We call them “challenges,” a word that rises often today.
But joy is considered a “gift of the spirit,” and being of Spirit, it is big in size. Joy is so big that it can embrace the whole–even the broken pieces of self and life–and still smile.
Joy is something bigger than suffering and bigger than Evil. Say the Upanishads: “Joy comes from God….From joy all beings have come and unto joy they all return.”
Indeed, the question is posed: “Who could live and who could breathe if the joy of Brahman filled not the universe? Brahman is joy (ananda, bliss).”
The Buddha said; “Waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.” How do we live joyfully? Thich Nhat Hanh teaches this simple meditation practice to bring joy alive in us:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment!
Heschel reminds us that humans are not alone when confronted with evil. Living in ‘the light of the face of God’ bestows upon humans a power of love that enables one to overcome the powers of evil.
We can live in the light of the face of God. How about that?
Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 254f, 260.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: Basking in the Holiness. Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Are you living joyfully? Do you see holiness and Joy around you and within you?
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
Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him. He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French). He gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way.
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
17 thoughts on “Holiness and Moving beyond Evil, continued”
Something that I experienced, journaled and posted elsewhere back in February –
“Jesus Speaks In the Here and Now”
Jesus speaks, in the here and now, to those that listen to His voice. This is what I heard in the deep recess and darkness of last night.
“No longer say that you know Me. Be Me. Make yourselves Holy in the face of the Lord.” — BB. 02 22 2023
“Jesus Speaks In the Here and Now”
Bill, your words remind me of ‘Cosmo/Genesis’, a long poem I wrote for an assignment in a Metaphysics course in the 1980s. The opening lines are:
What time is it?
Is it then?
Is it now?
How are we in the here and now?
Should we ask where?
Should we ask when?
If we miss it
Will it come again or does
it only happen ONCE?
I like your poetic words and opening. Wish I had a metaphysics course offered when I was in school.
“There is now and only now and what is loved will always be loved and never be missed. And what is not of love has already been forgiven and forgotten.” — BB.
sigh – wow!
to you, Bill and Gwen.
Thank you both for this meaningful sharing.
Gwen – please see reply to you and Bill
Thank you both
This is what I am partaking in… from todays DM.
“Holiness is found… in the celebration of seeing… the spark of the Divine within all… that inherent goodness, wisdom and beauty of this, within all… welcome all as holy… the laughter and the tears… the joys and the sorrows… the struggles and the unfolding of all that evolves and emerges from this… openly accept all… with a friendly countenance.”
Thank you, for once again igniting the memory of converging with Holiness!
“Converging with Holiness”
Love your image!
Hi everyone, Thank you for all your meaningful sharing! This was my morning prayer:
Jesus when I quietly open my whole being to You, your Spirit comes into me and I receive the very thing my unconscious mind is longing for, I become conscious, I feel your loving Presence, your Holy Spirit living in me. I fall more deeply in love with you and
I know instinctively, beyond doubt, this experience of belonging is my essence and the essence of Nature. This Love gives me courage and joy and helps me live the mystery of Life. Love, my Lord, will teach me how to live and how to die.
I am not afraid for thou art with me. Your love will hold me up. Even when I feel alone or abandoned, You’ve revealed by your Cross that God is present even when when we feel God absence. This presence and absence is in our Essence. Our consciousness and unconsciousness. Our becoming and our letting go. I believe it must be Love that holds it all together.
A love that is potent and humble , feeding us Joy and courage. A life force that gives up its Spirit and works to overcome inertia, ignorance and evil. Why? Because it has to. It’s our nature.
All this is possible when we love God, ourselves, each other.
May the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Be WIth Us…Yes!
In Us, Living within us, inviting all of us to fall more deeply in love.
Love is Courageous. Courageous means having a large heart, being full of heart.
Matthew shares this history of the word Courageous.
We are traveling a courageous road, learning to love as we are loved!
Feel your heart swell? oh my!
An offering on the topic JOY……
poem written in 1969, the week when men walked on the moon!
SPECIAL DELIVERY ( a daughter)
S.O.S News flash
to be born
so am I.
became her name
her gift to us and the world.
Joy! Joy! Joy!
Yes, I try to be open to the Sacred Presence and Flow of God’s Spirit of DIVINE LOVE~LIGHT~LIFE in the Sacrament of the PRESENT MOMENT within, through, among US….
THANKS, ME TOO.
My personal logo symbols are not being transcribed. Not accepted or allowed any longer?
I don’t know and I will inquire for you.