A Wink and a Smile

I’m interested in mysticism.  The mystic is so invisible in our wordview right now that it’s virtually absent in my experience of my own life, but I still get nudges sometimes.  These nudges aren’t evidence of a mystic aptitude — they’re evidence of my almost total suppression of a mystic aptitude.

One of my shortcomings as a stunted mystic is, yet one I’m proud of, is that I don’t deal in firm conceptions.  Guardian angels, spirit guides, councils of wise souls, Atlanteans, djinn, yenaldlooshiis, whatever the fuck — I just can’t take myself seriously saying any of those words out loud.  “God” is a concept I’ve largely salvaged, but “Satan” is just trash.  I’m really into channeled writings, and I find it irritating that we have to resort to airy-fairy and yet vaguely white, vaguely male labels like ‘the teachings of Abraham’, or Seth, or Orin, or Joseph.  Never “Barbara”.  Never “Jose”.  And just to be clear, the groups of entities brought through by modern-day mediums aren’t themselves insistent upon these names — it’s the mediums, and really society at large, and certainly publishing companies, who require some type of weighty, semi-Biblical-esque moniker.  It’s off-putting, and kooky.

With that preface, though, I do appreciate the accumulating body of contemporary mystic work, as well as the tiny mystic nudges I receive in my own life.  The best generalization I can make, here, is that it’s good for us all to remember to leave room for the workings of a higher power, in all aspects of our lives.  This is what I understand “faith” to be, in most basic terms.  It means you absolutely do your due diligence in gathering data and perspective and understanding of all the factors and variables pertaining to “x” subject — your body, your career, your relationships, whatever — and you trust your own assessment of those factors, because otherwise you’re an upside-down turtle — but you leave room for higher power, too.  You have the intelligence to distrust your own intellect to a certain degree.  Now, this intelligence requires two things: first, you must understand yourself as more that just an intellect housed within a body, and second, you must understand higher power as being your advocate.  The average average person cannot approach an understanding of either, so it makes sense that they’d grapple with their own problems in an entirely intellectualized way, seeing their intellect as their only advocate in an essentially hostile world.  That’s the normal way to feel, but it’s problematic.  

Here’s a perspective my dad expressed many times, with some vigor: We need the intellect!  We need the ego!  Only a strong ox can pull a heavy cart.  Our ego is that ox, and our existence is that cart.  But letting the ox be in charge of where to go, and why?  Sheee-it.  No way.  Oxen are too dumb.

I always found this analogy useful, because we easily mistake the muscularity of our intellect with its right to lead us forward.  We’re a little punch drunk on the concept of ‘might makes right’ — which would be fine, except we associate “might” with action, suffering, and sometimes even martyrdom.  A situation with winners and losers, heroes and villains, in other words.  

Another smart thing my dad said: the sign of a truly great leader is that you don’t even know they’re there.  Everything just…works.  The sign of a poor, or even average, leader, conversely, is that they make a big show of responding to, and fixing, and helping with all the problems because…everything’s a problem.

Let me put this into a specific context for you.  Let’s take, on the one hand, a person with stage 32 whatever, something dire and chronic and irreversible, who has experienced a sudden and total healing, to the amazement of their doctors and the world at large, VERSUS a person who is just comfortably healthy, and always has been, and continues to be so.  Which is the bigger miracle?  Which is in a better position to teach us something about wellness?  

Most of us would choose the former.  We’re absolutely addicted to the drama of danger, strife, valor, and prevailing against all odds.  I would argue for the latter.  We have the most to learn about wellbeing from people who, whether consciously or unconsciously, have figured out how to allow it as a matter of course, without it being an emergency.  We have the most to learn from a leader who just keeps everything trucking along, virtually on rails.  We have the most to learn from couples that have more good days than bad.  And we have the most to learn from that aspect of ourselves not sweating, snorting, grunting, and drooling as it pulls the world’s heaviest cart up the world’s steepest hill.

That part is our mystic self, and this is what I mean about cultivating a loving, healthy distrust of our own intellect.  The intellect is going to do what intellects do, which is indispensable, but with one raging flaw: we never have all the information.  It’s tough for an intellect to admit that, so we have to admit that on our intellect’s behalf.  “Having faith” means allowing for that miraculous X factor — the epiphany you’re going to have, but you haven’t had yet.  The chance meeting you’re going to have, but you haven’t had yet.  The 3am idea you’re going to have but you haven’t had yet.  Not “holding your breath” for it, but remembering to breathe deeply no matter what.

My blogging time today is short, but I’ll leave you with this: whatever area represents your expertise, your most dramatic thriving, will be the area of least intellectualization.  The intellect solves surface level problems, which you don’t have here.  And this is, ultimately, what’s wrong with “might makes right” — true power is not a flex; it’s a wink and a smile.  

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