Monday, February 13, 2006

Perfect Peace

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stay'd on thee" Isaiah 26:3. Setting my mind on that I often succeed in subduing the chaotic stream of consciousness and quieting the mind, which seems to be the overriding motif of much Eastern religion.

But this morning I found myself wanting something more. As time progressed, something more came forth: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stay'd on thee (God, no-thing!, goodness, the fruits of the spirit, what else?, love).

I've always felt that Eastern religion is largely quietistic, a very valid concern in the face of the monumental distractions which assail our consciousness. In contrast Western religion is activistic, life-affirming, do-something, get off your backside, work.

We may do this aimlessly or for exactly the wrong reason, such as amassing a fortune; but when we do it in a godly way, then we're right on!

Peace is a more complex entity than many people suppose: you can be working 18 hours a day assiduously, at the most frustrating occupation, and still have a mind full of peace--- if you're doing the right thing. If you are doing the right thing, your focus will be on love.


Dave Carl said...

I think the "quietist" image of Eastern religion is largely a stereotype, which probably arises from the greater emphasis quiet contemplation and meditation are given there than in the West traditionally. For example, the Bhagavad Gita emphasizes that one should not avoid action, but merely attachment to the fruits of action. Much of what you propound in your post could be found in Buddhist or Hindu texts as well. Buddhism, Zen particularly, emphasises action using "skillful means" (as in "Zen and the art of _____.") If we travelled to the East we would no doubt find a lot of very busy people -- who still take time for silent and meditative practices. Sort of like Quakers, maybe!

Jon said...

Dave practically took the words out of my mouth. Everything that happens in the Bhagavad Gita, the discourses on philosophy, the revelation of God's transcendent grandeur is to motivate Arjuna to get off his duff and act, energetically, without being attached to the results of his action.

Larry said...

Dave and Jon, I appreciate what you're saying, but I continue to believe that Eastern religion in general tends to be more interior than Western, especially the general expression of it in the West.

anonymous julie said...

Larry; check out the "parallel schools" section on this page from Jon's website:

Anyway, for the rest, in terms of day-to-day survival... 'twas brillig! Errr... my own experience is in accord with what you write here.

Larry said...

Thanks, Julie; it is great. Jon and I are very much in accord about the faith.

Meister Eckhart wrote about the God above God in one (or many) of his sermons. I love him and wrote a paper on his ideas at seminary (1958).

In point of Eastern religion Jon is way ahead of me; we are really priviliged to have his leadership in that wisdomreading.

BTW My dean son is not married to an architect; she's his sister in law, wife of his little brother (a lawyer and pschologist). Ah well, you've got me bragging.