Monday, July 2, 2012

Ah, Abraham

A morsel from the late great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972):

“The ineffable inhabits the magnificent and the common, the grandiose and the tiny facts of reality alike. Some people sense this quality at distant intervals in extraordinary events; others sense it in ordinary events, in every fold, in every nook; day after day, hour after hour. To them things are bereft of triteness; to them being does not mate with nonsense. They hear the stillness that crowds the world in spite of our noise, in spite of our greed. Slight and simple as things may be- a piece of paper, a morsel of bread, a word, a sigh- they hide and guard a never-ending secret....”

“Part company with preconcieved notions, suppress your leaning to reiterate and to know in advance of your seeing, try to see the world for the first time with eyes not dimmed by memory or volition, and you will detect that you and the things that surround you- trees, birds, chairs- are like parallel lines that run close and never meet. Your pretense of being aquainted with the world is quickly abandoned.”

"How do we seek to apprehend the world? Intelligence inquires into the nature of reality, and, since it cannot work without its tools, takes those phenomena that appear to fit its categories as answers to its inquiry. Yet, when trying to hold an interview with reality face to face, without the aid of either words or concepts, we realize that what is intelligible to our mind is but a thin surface of the profoundly undisclosed, a ripple of inveterate silence that remains immune to curiosity and inquisitiveness like distant foliage in the dark."

"The greatest hindrance to knowledge is our adjustment to conventional notions, to mental cliches. Wonder or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is, therefore, a prerequisite for an awareness of that which is."

- Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion (1951), p.5-11

1 comment:

David Clark said...

I just discovered your blog a couple of days ago from a link on Nyoho Zen.
I must say I have been very impressed with the quality of the posts, both the quoted material and your own work. I'm somewhat familiar with the Zen/Ch'an tradition, as well as some Christian "mystics" like Meister Eckhart, but the Jewish thinkers such as quoted in the above "Ah, Abraham" post open new doors for me. I am very happy to have found them!