A Pastoral Letter from Bhakti Ananda Goswami…
On Human Giftedness and Pride: The Appreciation of Love, Versus the Depreciation of Pride and Envy.
Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God Ess. They are all gifted, and very differently gifted. Any perceptive person who has cared for many small children knows that they experience things differently and learn differently.
Calculators and Logicians/Contemplatives
More rarely there are children who are not Touchers-Movers, Seers or Listeners, but who seem to live, as much as possible, inside of their heads. Such children are more interested in ‘day-dreaming’ about non-visual ‘problems’ than they are in external activities and stimulus. As they grow, the Calculators enjoy considering all kinds of abstractions. They enjoy numbers, algebraic equations, abstract geometry, calculating and doing complex mental problems. They like to create and solve math problems, games, puzzles, riddles and physics problems, and are far more interested in logic and contemplating their own internal thought processes, than they are in exploring the external world by any means of sampling-it, such as touch or physical movement, sight or sound. Their main interest in other human beings, and even in animals, is in how their minds work. Thus they may become employed in the mind sciences or mental health research (not care) fields. They may become scientists, philosophers or physicists, or if they have a spiritual calling, metaphysicists and theologians. The object of their compelling interest is not the external or internal visual world, the world of touch or movement, or of sound, it is the world of abstract thought, of studying logic, of contemplating, constructing and de-constructing the very processes of thought themselves. Calculators may actually have greater difficulty experiencing God’s Self Revelation, because they tend to be self-absorbed and therefore not available to experiences of the Divine Other. The Calculator’s interest may even be in the internal world of negating both the external and the internal Worlds. They may even become a nihilist or a voidist, or follow the ‘via negativa’ of Christian Apophatic Iconoclasm, or practise the ‘mindfulness’ of a Zen monk, and the contemplation of Koan-like challenging logic problems. [A Koan is a mind-stopping paradoxical Zen Buddhist Logic Problem.] Still, if impersonalism and atheism do not overtake the proud gnostic or ‘knowing’ Calculator, there is a place for them in the Lord’s perfect social-organization plan too!
All Are Gifted, and There Is No Place for Prejudice and Pride
Of course there are other types of learners too, and many people are combinations of some, or all of these types.
My point is that all of these types of people are greatly gifted by the Lord to be exactly what and who they uniquely are, and none is more human, greater or lessor than they other, because of their inherent difference. As a loving mother experiences the unique giftedness of each of her children, we must learn to appreciate each other’s different gifts as well.
In the true humility of spiritual life there is no place for prejudice, haughty judgementalism, for either envy or ‘spiritual pride’. There is no place for the damning pride of the iconoclasts who think that the SEERS of God are all ‘idolators’. There is no place for the prejudice and pride of the anti-auditory silence worshipers who think that all of the constant prayers of the LISTENERS is ‘Vain Repetition’. There is no place for the Actives and the Contemplatives to lord-it-over each other as the only true devotees, or truly ‘advanced’ devotees of God.
The Human faculty to visually depict an idea, abstract or theological concept, or to receive a Theophany or ‘Vision’ of God, is just as Divinely gifted as the intellectual ability to understand, hear or speak the Name of God, or to create ‘heavenly sounds’ and hear the ‘Music of the Spheres’ and Angels. It is a gift of God to be able to express things and to communicate in movement and action, signs and signals, or to perform the mental calculations necessary to construct mathematical models of the Universe. Thus Revelations OF God, which are FROM God, may come to humankind through the Visions of the Seers / Rishis / Roeh, the Visionaries of God and their Sacred visual arts, or through the Sacred words and music of those with the anointed ‘ears to hear’ and voices to praise the Lord! It is a gift to be able to express an idea or theological proposition in the logical order of words or numbers. There is a place in God’s good order for all these different types of wonderful people! The World of humanity is a richly variegated place of God’s creative goodness, because He has chosen to gift us with ALL of these wonderful miraculous faculties! He has furthermore deigned to reveal HIMSELF to us, while we are yet in this flesh, through the very senses with which He has gifted us! Why then should we reject His Own Self-Revelation through each other’s gifts?
The Lord Who has given us these brains to think, bodies to move and touch, eyes to see, ears to hear and more, is the Same Lord that we should WANT to touch, see, hear and think-about etc! Why should we then fear to do what He has enabled us to do? Why should we reject His Self-Revelation to us, through each other’s Divine Gifts? Why should the non-Seers begrudge the Seers their Visions of God! Why should the non-Listeners fault the Listeners for their desire to hear! Why should the religious Apophatics and Contemplatives feel prideful-over, or even contemptuous-of the religious Cataphatics and the Actives of this World? We creatures of God have different senses attuned to different realities! In the human being, all of our senses can be directed or attuned towards God. True humility is what allows us to tune-in to God’s signaling, whatever channel it is coming over! It is humility that is necessary for all real ‘spiritual’ advancement, and ‘spiritual pride’ will stop us in our tracks, if we let it.
I have been reading some amazing religious and ‘spiritual’ things lately, but the prideful attitude of some religionists and ‘spiritual’ people is truly and tragically amazing too. How they can be so advanced in some forms of religious or ‘spiritual’ learning, and at the same time be so proud and judgemental regarding other devotees of the Lord is astonishing. Most simply put, it is the same old problem of gnosticism, or Know-It-All intellectual elitism. Some people have a kind of pride in their intellectual ability or their natural lack of sensuality (or enforced asceticism), and in this pride and related prejudice against others who are not of their type, they are compelled to judge and to deprecate all other kinds of people in the World. Such pride-filled gnostic ‘Knowers’ come in both ascetic and hedonistic types, but what they share is a disdain for anyone that they think is less intelligent or less knowledgeble than themselves. They also do not recognise and value any OTHER KIND of intelligence or knowledge than their own.
Thus the proud religious gnostic or occultist who is a master of specialized kinds of esoteric things like computer code, numerology or astrology, will have disdain for the common mass of believers. The Iconoclasts will have contempt for those who commune with God Ess through Icons or Murtis. Those who do not want to contribute-to, or those who do not get anything out-of physically worshiping God, or participating in an organized community of worshipers, will shun the Rityas / Rituals of ‘organized religions’ and condemn them as mundane and even anti-spiritual! The Protestant Fundamentalists who ‘speak in tongues’ will think that the Catholics who repeat the same prayers over and over on their Rosaries are performing the “vain repetition” condemned in their King James Bible.
Thus the Proud Know-It-Alls of the World will arrogantly sit in judgement of their neighbors and even their religious relatives, thinking that they know better and do better, because they do or do-not speak (or sing) a certain ancient language, do or do-not keep certain dietary laws or days of the week as a holy day, do or do-not study some complicated system of mysticism or metaphysics, do or do-not ‘use images’ in their worship, do or do-not repeat the same prayers, do or do-not volunteer at the local soup kitchen, do or do-not wear a particular tonsure or habit of dress etc.
Please my Dear Friends, guard against any of this kind of haughty and holier-than-thou prejudice and pride. Such pride, which depreciates rather than appreciates the unique giftedness of others is ugly, and no pride is more ugly than ‘spiritual pride’. In the Name of all that is HOLY, please try to appreciate and value, rather than to tear-down and de-value others. You cannot mount up to Heaven by trampling others under your feet.
Divine Peace and Love to You All,
Bhakti Ananda Goswami / Brother David of Saint Francis of Assisi