for the nameless
by martin boroson ©2000
becoming me is a creation story that's told, unusually, in the first
person, beginning with the enigmatic line, "once upon a time, i
was". this raises a big question from the outset: who's
telling this story? who is "i"? who or what is responsible
for creation? is there some "one" witnessing it all?
and what name shall we give the experience that many traditions say
is beyond names altogether?
people say (with good reason) that the narrator of becoming me is god.
some people prefer the terms "spirit" or "creator".
in the chinese tradition of taoism, the source of all things is understood
simply as the "way"--not an individual at all, but a process.
aldous huxley, trying to speak in the most neutral way possible, simply
called it, delightfully (if dryly), the "highest common factor."
and some people, who don't wish to give it any name at all, just speak
about their sense of wonder.
according to many scholars, there are three basic versions of the experience
of one source. this source can be experienced as personal, composed
of certain qualities, or beyond any qualities at all. let's look
at each of these versions.
this conception, the source is pictured, and referred to, as being like
a super-human person, with desires, plans, power, etc. it is usually
considered to be "up there" (while we struggle along "down
here"). it usually has a name and a voice (and sometimes a gender),
and could certainly tell a story of creation.
this view, the source does not have a particular personality, form,
or voice, but is made up of some extraordinary qualities, such as a
very special light or sound. this is what is meant when someone says
"god is love," which does not mean, "god loves you",
or "god is like love", but actually, literally, "god
beyond qualities or form.
experience is sometimes called emptiness (buddhism), the godhead (mystical
christianity), or ein sof (mystical judaism). it is like a limitless
field--with no boundaries or qualities at all--from which even "god"
and "form" and "qualities" spring. it is limitless
because it is not separate from anything. that’s why it’s
so difficult to speak about it. in order to refer to it, you have to
separate yourself from it, but this separation is, technically, impossible,
because it is you too. everywhere you go--it is. it isn't above or below,
or anywhere but here. it just is and is and is. in fact, it isn't anything
but "is". you can't have a relationship with it or sing songs
to it, but you can know it, or be it, or rather, to be technically correct,
you can't ever not be it. it just is.
each of these three understandings has an important role to play in
human life, and none can be considered wrong. we need different versions
for different situations, and some people seem temperamentally suited
to one over another. for example, the hindu saint, sri caitanya, is
described having each of these kinds of experience (in reverse order):
"sri caitanya used to experience three moods. in the inmost mood
he would be absorbed in samadhi [the godhead], unconscious of the
outer world. in the semiconscious mood he would dance in ecstasy but
could not talk. in the conscious mood he would sing the glories of
now to return to our question: who is telling the story of becoming
me? well, on the surface, "once upon a time, i was", definitely
seems like a personal god--version one. but if you look at the book,
the illustrations certainly don't look like a personal god. they show
an endless dance of color and light, implying version two. and as the
story moves on, it's clear that this is a narrator who is not above
creation, but pervades all things and in fact is all things. the source
of this story is not separate from anything. it just is and is and is--version
but if the story were completely true to version three, then the first
sentence should read something like, “beyond time and space, i
am.” or to be even more precise, there shouldn’t be an “i”
at all. this is why hinduism says, simply, om, and why a zen master
just smiles (both just different ways of saying “is”).
but then it wouldn't be much of a story, because nothing comes before
or after "is". there's nothing to say about is. it just is.
and to tell a story, there has to be a plot, and drama, and things,
and time--all of which are part of "is," but are also a digression,
a digression from just being.
and so i compromised. or rather, i wrote a story that's not just about
just being but is also about becoming. in other words, i wrote a story
about creation, that wonderful and challenging digression from being.
becoming me is a story of a source that we cannot name and is never
not-us, somehow throwing itself into the limited realities of time and
space. it is a game of being lost and being found. but it also has a
purpose. being gets to create, explore, express and play, and all of
us creations, caught in the world of becoming, are challenged to pause,
for a moment, and be.
1 sri ramakrishna, kathamrta,
vol iv, p. 223
"names for the nameless" © martin boroson, 2000
martin boroson is the author of
the interfaith creation story, becoming me, and the one-moment
master. he can be reached at www.martinboroson.info.
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