Spirituality: Whence the Wind?

"The aim of the Spiritual Growth Network of Kentucky is to empower others to pursue their respective spiritual journeys." We seek to encourage the reader to listen to the inner journey and the promptings of the Wind, wherever, however, whenever. --facilitator is Paschal Baute. SGN of KY is a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational corporation established in Kentucky in 1989. www.lexpages.com/sgn "Be still and know that I am the Lord." Psalm 46:10

Sunday, January 09, 2005

MANY OCCASIONS, but not by human effort. . .

"Let me just list a few situations, occasions, environments, stimulations which help to evoke this mystery or presence, though these themselves are not identical to it. Walking, preferably in the woods or by a lake or in some other scenic areas.

Listening to music, sacred or secular, but in either case, melodic and harmonious. Sitting quietly in an attitude of devotion. Conversing with others on matters concerning the deeper meaning of life. Actually, any occasion, any activity, any experience whatever, provides an opportunity ot find the spirit as long s one’s full attention is devoted to it. However, many experiences in this life make it difficult to break through to the spirit, because they are dark, opaque or otherwise impervious.

"But there is something beyond the immediate situation, whether that situation be conducive to meditation or not, which has nothing to do with sensory experience. Nor is it an extrasensory experience. It is not experiential at all. Yet, it is real. The testimony of sages throughout history attests to this through meditation practice. Meditation can be compared to opening the window. By doing this one will not necessarily feel this breeze. But when the breeze blows one has at least prepared a place for it to enter. The breeze, of course, is only an analogy for those rare moments which are less than micro-seconds, yet seem like eternity, due to the intensity of presence and bliss which they bestow on those who are open to them. These moments cannot be willed, but they can be prepared for, and sometimes they occur without any apparent preparation at all.

"One of the best accounts of this in spiritual literature is presented in the 19th chapter of 1 Kings. Elijah has been threatened by Jezebel, Ahab’s wicked queen. What a terrible moment for the prophet!
In great fear he rushes off into the wilderness where he cannot be found. He comes to a cave where he spends the night. Then the word of the Lord comes to him, saying,
"What are you doing here, Elijah?" To which he responds "The Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life." Then the Lord says, "Go out and stand on that mountain, for the Lord is about to pass by."

"Now there was a great wind, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a sound of sheer silence.

When Elijah heard it he went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then the Lord again said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" The prophet;s immediate response was the same as before. But he is suddenly given a new initiative at this point to go and complete the work which the Lord had prepared him for. The fear which had previously gripped him no longer held away over him.

"I have elaborated on this portion of scripture, because it speaks to me as well as any and better than most about the Spirit’s true abode. I like the NSRV translation of this: "The sound of sheer silence." The older RSV, as well as the AV and numerous other translations, render this as "A still small voice", or "a gentle breeze" which is not nearly as powerful in its effect.

"No sound, small or otherwise, can truly convey God’s Presence. No sensory conception can actually encompass the path along which the Spirit moves. The Spirit is compared to the Wind, but it is not the wind per se. It is like the wind, however, in terms of how it generates our lives. The Wind moves; the Spirit is still. "Be still and know that I am God," (Ps 46:10)
Only in moments of perfect stillness is it possible to be in direct contact with the mysterious presence which we call God, Spirit or whatever. It is that stillness or silence which truly renews a person and allows one to move on.

"Now as I indicated there is no way to find the spirit or the wind in one’s life by an act of will. But the exercise of will in this regard is nonetheless essential, because it is only the exercise of will that one learns the futility of will. And when one truly becomes aware of the will’s futility, one comes to a point of surrender in which one discovers what one had been willing in the first place. This is akin to the Chinese Wu Wei, the path of effortlessness. I may spend much effort in the attempt to find the Spirit or the Wind in my life. But when all is said and done, it is not found by effort. It is simply there when all effort to find it ceases...."

--Contributed by a regular member of SGN of Kentucky, on June 20, 1997.


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