Monday, February 3, 2014

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

This morning, in Evelyn Underhill's Mysticism, I read that she considers mysticism and magic to be at opposite ends of the religious spectrum.  Mysticism, she says, is driven by love, an all-encompassing desire for union with the Divine, while magic, on the other hand, is driven by the intellect, and is seeking some benefit for the self.

I found that discouraging, I confess: my daily meditations are certainly driven more by the understanding that I don't actually function all that well without them, and by the certainty that what creativity I have is surely fueled by that quiet time.

But the truth is -- I find it extremely difficult to love that which I fear.  And while on those rare and brief occasions when I have been touched by the Divine I have found that touch to be inexpressibly tender; a love more filling and complete than anything I have experienced at a human level, the fact remains that I was raised to fear God (a) and (b) I sometimes feel I have only begun to find myself, the true being at my core, and a large part of me does not wish to lose that sense of self in Divine Union.

It's a bit like the ocean: I know how lovely it can be to float in the water, how supported I feel by it.  And it's beautiful -- which is why I choose to live at sea level: the sight of it is endlessly satisfying.  But overall I am terrified of its elemental power, and on mornings like this one, when the tide is high and the wind out of the north sends the waves crashing to the beach just beyond my window, there is a tension between enjoyment of the beauty of it and a deep-rooted fear of that power.

So I was reassured to read on and find that the Artist can actually reside on the mystical end of that spectrum; that her job is to tap into the Divine and then to carry that back into expression.  It's not purely self-serving, but driven by a tension between the longing for the divine and the desire to communicate its glory back to humanity.

That said -- the very fact that I worry about whether I fall on the magical or mystical end probably indicates that there's some truth here; that my shadow self is probably feeling a bit exposed...  Always good to be aware of that...

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