Tag Archive | Divinity

Limiting the Infinite

  

The Adoration of the Golden Calf

The Adoration of the Golden Calf

The divine has no limits. The more limits one tries to put on the divine, the farther they are from the whole truth. Those who tend to cling to narrow, dogmatic or fanatic belief systems are putting strict limits on something that is limitless. In some ways this is necessary. It is hard for the human mind to grasp something infinite, so putting some boundary conditions on the divine helps us. However the stricter those boundaries are, the more they constrict the whole infinite truth, and then it begins to look like something that is not divine at all. It can turn into something intolerant. One is only seeing a tiny point of the whole and is convinced that tiny point is the whole, insisting that anyone seeing something different is wrong. Since they have captured the whole of the divine inside a tiny, narrow point of view, they can tolerate very little opposition to that. One who sees a bigger picture will be less likely to be offended if something in their perspective is challenged, in fact they may welcome the challenge because they can see how it might help them expand. Someone who sees only the narrow view of the divine will cling to it since any challenge could be the final blow to their entire belief system. It is like having a house of cards instead of a house made of bricks. The slightest wind will blow down the house of cards, so the owner of that house feels a desperate need to defend it against all potential opposition, even a gentle breeze. The one in the brick house has no need to fear a gentle breeze. I believe this is the true message behind the much miss-interpreted meaning of the prohibition against idol worship in Judeo-Christian religion. It is not that one should never try and express the divine through symbols, for that in and of itself is basic to human nature and poses no problem. The problem is when you limit the totality of the divine within something that is too small or narrow to contain it. If all the power of the divine resides inside a golden calf for you, then you are in trouble. What happens if someone destroys the golden calf? If you truly believe the divine resides there, you will easily become terrified that anything will happen to it. That fear then becomes your driver, it becomes the place that you react from instead of love. Even though your original motivation, to protect what you perceive as divine, is not inherently evil. Most of the more orthodox traditions are meant to create peace and harmony within a group. This is a noble cause. It backfires only because the narrow point of view becomes difficult to defend. The traditions that take a broader view, or the individuals who choose a broader view of the divine are less likely to react from fear. The divine encompasses so much they do not feel the defensiveness. They can see the divine in the pages of a book as well as the tree, the sky, the love in their partners’ eyes, the song of the sea, the vastness of space, the laughter of their child. It is not contained in a small, narrow place where it needs defending.

Rhea Jamil

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