Friday, 5 August 2016

Week 18 Friday (Year 2)


'Paradox' is an over-used word for describing many of the sayings of Jesus. The term 'koan', taken from the training methods of Zen Buddhism, is at times a more fruitful concept to use. The koan, riddle, or parable, is a statement or story whose wisdom cannot be accessed using the ordinary tools of analysis and logic. 'Reason' understood narrowly cannot get at what it is about, the rationalist in us who wants to take apart and control. But 'intellect' can see what it might be about, a meditative reception and consideration of what is said, a meditation shaped by experience, a contemplation open to receive.

On the street one day I saw a homeless man sitting in a porch with his few possessions gathered round him, a dog, a sleeping bag, and a varied collection of odds and ends. It included a reading lamp set up at the head of the sleeping bag. Seeing him became a kind of koan for me as I began to wonder why a homeless man would need a reading lamp, how he could ever get it to work, what he might read by its light ... what might he be saying to himself or to the rest of us by carrying around such a thing? Perhaps not saying anything. But seeing him became a koan for me, curious and at first sight irrational, but setting off a series of meditations on different aspects of the picture he presented: light, sight, knowledge, reading, poverty, wisdom. It brought to mind also a comment attributed to Oscar Wilde, that only what is incredible is worth believing. What is incredible to the rationalist mind is not incredible to the wider, deeper, richer intellectual mind.

Jesus in the gospel gives us two incredible sayings to take along with us today -

Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

There are some (reading this) who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.


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