Two ways of seeing…

Some time ago,  while i was forming a friendship with someone who had a very different belief system from mine, i tried to think of a way to describe an impasse we seemed to be reaching. The result is the following allegorical story. The story isn’t meant to suggest there are *only* two ways, but these two seem to be common.

books-clouds

BOOKLETTE AND IMPRESSA

Two cloud-gazers lie on their backs in a meadow, enjoying the puffy, delightful formations above.

One has a small book with her. It contains writings suggesting how cloud formations are to be interpreted, a record that informs her gazing and inspires her complete confidence. Let’s call her Booklette.

The other relies on no such book, but rather on her own impressions of the ethereal shapes. Only her present encounter with the billowy masses enlivens her thoughts. Let’s call her Impressa.

Lovely wisps of temporary forms suggestive of animals, trees and myriad other things float by.

The two pass the time calling out the forms they see, and they find delight on the rare occasions when they see and name the same form.

Their friendship is tested by what happens when they perceive differing shapes. Wishing for more of the enjoyment of agreeing, each tries to induce the other to see in the clouds what she sees.

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What did Chopra say?

mill pondEven though i have gradually shed my belief in a god, i remain intrigued by and sympathetic to the human impulse toward belief, particularly the longing for a personal god who sees each individual as uniquely valuable.

For this reason, i found myself in agreement with the following teaser sentence for a Deepak Chopra column about why god still matters:

“‘With the workaday world filled with suffering and frustrated ideals, there’s a huge incentive to look beyond the horizon to a God that will continue to evolve for the simple reason that humans never stop evolving,’ says Deepak Chopra.”

While some believers will take issue with an assertion of god evolving, the idea of looking to the horizon for something or someone which provides meaning beyond the mundane seems to resonate broadly. As scholar Karen Armstrong has shown (“A History of God”), conceptualizations of god evolve. As for Chopra’s column, that turned out to be the only sentence i could agree with. His seven brief paragraphs offer a breezy vacuity that nonetheless at least manages to illustrate the pitfalls he warns others of.    Continue reading