I had an interesting moment last night, on my way home from work – one of those soul-feeding moments (see “The Simple and the Profound”), and it really got me thinking.
The first part was the sunset. It was nearly over – the sun was completely down and the sky dark, but the very edge of the sky on the western horizon was still holding some color. Just enough to create a gentle cascade of dark, soft striations, from dark rose to a sort of deep purple. With the trees silhouetted in front of it, it was exquisite. Not the sort of brilliant, bold beauty of a normal sunset that makes you catch your breath and makes your heart beat faster; this was a very soft, quiet, profound beauty – very still and deep.
Then, turning in the opposite direction (after sitting at the stop sign and staring for about five minutes in awe), I beheld the night’s answer to the day’s dying gift. There, floating in a deep midnight-blue sky – not yet night-black – was an exquisite nearly-full moon. The color of the sky was the perfect backdrop, giving the moon’s brilliance a sort of soft warmth.
Add in the soft breeze, gently cooling after the day’s heat…the crickets singing desultorily…and the smells of the restaurants in the area mixed with the juniper and honeysuckle…outstanding. Most definitely a soul-feeding moment.
It was a moment that spoke to me, that poured out upon me libations of promise and potential, that begged for the full extension of all of my senses and the full focus of all of my attention, that I might fully reap the harvest that was being offered me. I have never felt more alive, more vibrantly in tune with the world around me, or more blissful in my own existence.
And as mentioned, it got me thinking. (What doesn’t?) It started a cascading cycle of thoughts that were largely incoherent and difficult to hold onto – I didn’t really even try – but one thought stood clear before the rest. I found myself thinking, “I don’t really know what I believe in…but I believe it with all my heart.”
And that was it; my epiphany! I don’t know what I believe in – because it’s belief, not thought. I don’t have to know it – I feel it…I sense it…I exude it. It is in me and of me and I embrace it utterly. I do not need labels for it. I do not need a book that explains it or regiments it; to do so would stifle it. I do not need rules and guidelines. I do not need instruction or explanations.
The things that I believe that seem self-contradictory (you can believe in God or the Goddess, but not both; you can believe in things of magic or in scientific reality, but not both; etc.) are only contradictory because we have been told they are contradictory. These are manufactured limitations. I do not have to accept that – I do not have to embrace limitations that the world would hand me. I can embrace what my heart tells me is true, and be at peace with that. I do not need to seek; it really is all right here inside, and I can accept it without judgment or dissection. It is there, deep within me, to an extent that I think most people do not believe possible, and it is indelibly etched upon my heart.
And that, I truly believe, is where it belongs. All these years, in all the spiritual wanderings and crises I have experienced, I have been trying so hard to wrap my mind around a belief system that will work for me. I have struggled to reconcile what I know with what I am told, and nothing seems to fit. Nothing rings quite true…nothing seems just right. Zen Buddhism, which does not rule out any other belief system, seems closest, but does not fully embrace what I feel to be true – probably because it is not intended as a “religion” per se, but as a way of life and a state of mind.
So okay. I can deal with this. This makes sense to me. I do not have to understand it to know that it is true. I can grasp it by knowing that I do not need to grasp it. I do not have to have it explained or organized or neatly summarized. My belief…my spirituality…does not require definition.
Belief is of the heart, not of the mind. I understand that now, and it makes sense. There is neither understanding, nor non-understanding – and if that isn’t Zen, I don’t know what is.