Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Human Choice


If we accept the wisdom of “there’s nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), we might be liberated from the shut-down of saying/doing what’s already been said/done. Freedom and change, renewed and evolving, are also truths alongside the nothing-new. And words, although in print they appear unchangeable, they, too, are ever moving, even if at glacial speed. 
     Then, if I don’t have to wait for the perfect, or even the right, beginning and if I escape from the fear of being redundant and looking ignorant of a previous tome, then what guides the choice of word and act? Yes, I am familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy, and I’m often drawn to the fitting of the niche, the resolution by the hidden treasure, the parable of talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28). More compelling as a model for living in freedom glimmers the “path of attraction.” 
     But “attraction” invites the amusement park or, more darkly, Dante’s circles of Hell littered with tortured bodies laid waste by lust, hate, greed, and other evil turns of power. As evident across history and certainly flagrant on the pages of today, human choice runs to waste and to harm. That the holy books overflow with commands and with hell-fire consequences makes sense as a force to hold against the dark side of our nature, waiting for maturation, for developed capacity to know better and to choose more wisely, more generously, more compassionately. 
     Sufis tell of the “animal soul.” My favorite storybook, Rumi’s Mathnawi, like the recurrent seaside waves, each still unique, sends the current that offers insight and inspiration for living on the path of attraction. There’s no attempt to hide from satanic allure, even if it looks like small pleasures, like “no-harm” fouls. To be hooked by the animal soul is so easy. The true path demands recognition and dealing with human tendency to choose wrongly, even to stay stupid, to doze or drug.
     But, by grace, we taste the divine. By discipline, by obedience, by following a guide, by seeking after knowledge and by surrender of selfish power, a person recognizes the true, the eternal, joy, peace, love. . .