By Our Fingertips, We Hang On

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By Our Fingertips, We Hang On

By Jane Tawel

November 28, 2021

And so, we find that any where we seek, we arrive at the same conclusions which are the conclusions of More and Less. We seek and we find that first of all, there is Something / Someone “more” than I,  some ineffable, ultimately indescribable and yet deeply knowable Reality Beyond This ; a “More-ness” that leads us forward, that rocks us back on our heels from time to time, that frightens and comforts us, and that we keep seeking to find outside and inside ourselves, using everything that is amazingly given to each of us, all of us, as our inherited miracles of mind, will, heart, and soul, those untouchable parts of Self that we are gifted to use and to be useful as human beings, beings evolved from a Creator’s somewhat daft but glorious supernatural experiments in Cosmic Creation. There is so much More – to life, to me, to you, to reality, to All. More.

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Secondly, we find there is so very much Less. There is appallingly less than we thought there was. Less enjoyment in that thing. Less of me that I like. Less of you that I like. Less certainty in what I believed last year, or last week, or a minute ago. Less to hang on to. Less that I understand or know or can just deal with thinking about today. There is so much Less – to life, to me, to you, to reality, to All. Less.

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The paradoxical existence of ourselves is the paradoxical reality / unreality of the meaning of life.

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And yet, we find that there are the same basic and good and absolutely necessary ingredients that are used by every Good Chef in the Kitchens of Belief Systems to make the Meals of Meaning. There was a great cookbook that came out with this profound belief system as its basis, entitled, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” (https://www.saltfatacidheat.com/  author: Samin Nosrat). Anyone who has studied any religion or profound spiritual philosophy can take those same four meta-ingredients and relate them directly to the myths, laws, methods, and teachings of their own belief system. As examples, think of the fat of Hebrew sacrifices, the salt of Jesus’ teachings, the heat as one of Buddhism’s five spiritual elements, and so forth and so on.  (I fear, today that most religions or belief systems have far too many acidic elements in their concoctions to be palatable, but that’s another thought for another day.) There are only three elemental universal spiritual elements, and like necessary ingredients in a good reduction sauce, these three things reduce all belief systems to the More / Less of The Real Real.

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We find that every teaching on meaning can be reduced to what a man named Paul simply stated as the temporal and the eternal bottom line: Now these three things are the only truly real Reals and the only things that will remain in the moment, in the day, in one’s life, and in an Eternity that is “God-Knows-What (and Where, and How, and Who…)” – These are the only realities, no matter what you think, feel, or do – the only True Truths and only true parts of any one or any institution or nation or community, or any relationship, or any philosophy or religion or quest – “Now these three things exist enough to remain: Faith. Hope. Love.”  (I Corinthians 13:13)

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That’s it. That’s all She wrote. C’est tout. Finis. And when you put it like that and you know anything about anything any one believes at any place or time in all of our history of searching for meaning, you think two things. One is, Yep.  And Two is, so what in the name of common sense are we doing with our lives chasing after all this other bogus stuff?

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And there it is again: common sense.  Common: meaning every one, everywhere, at every time has it. Sense: meaning pretty much everything we consider to be what we know of reality; Sense as in one’s mind, feelings, intuition, and the natural Nature of things around us on this planet that our five senses sense.

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Here is the problem. No matter what we think we believe or Who we say we believe in or how much we have accomplished in the name of our own belief system whether that belief system is nationalistic, religious, or spiritually philosophical, if we accept that the only things that are real and lasting are at least one of those three things that in English we symbolize with the limited words of Faith, Hope, and Love, if we accept that one of them is real and more important than some other stuff we might live for (for example if pressured most of us say we believe that all we leave behind or do of value while we muck about here has something to do with “love”, right?); IF, Big IF –then we are admitting that everything else we do, does not have ultimate or deeply truthful or lasting meaning. Everything. Everything. Including protesting, preserving, progeny and parenting, producing, or even proselytizing. Yowza! And for human beings, to accept that in the Long Run of Eternity, none of that matters, well, that is almost untenable. Because, well, we are human-doings, doing, doing, doing. Even when we seek meaning outside doing, we are doing things to make ourselves into something that thinks better by doing thinking better, acting better by doing actions better, feeling better by doing emotional stuff better, and believing against all proof, that we are made more whole or at peace or saved and sanctified or on our way to nirvana or heaven or self-realization by doing, doing, doing it all better, better, better. Yada, yada, yada… blah, blah, blah….Are we exhausted yet?

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Is there a solution to our problem? Well, we all believe there has to be right? Some of us believe the solution is up to us and that we can change the whole shebang if we all just pitch in and Rodney-King it by the revolution of justice and just desserts for all and by “just getting along”; or if we start taking the Planet’s dying gasps seriously this time and all become the EMT’s of life support Our Mother Earth needs pretty darn quickly to survive her children’s rabid inheritance-stealing. Some of believe we simply say magic prayers and believe in the reality and suffering of Someone else and then this world doesn’t matter because we will go to a new world somewhere else. Some of us believe that there is nothing other than what is in our hands today so we better grab more of it and some of believe that it is all impermanent and will continually morph into other new existences. Oh, there are a lot of beliefs that all dance around the same longings within us and yet, at the base of every single foundation of a human belief system are these three unassailable, undebatable, ultimately incomprehensible and un-own-able building blocks of Reality. At the basic basics of All are: Faith. Hope. Love.

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Faith is what a mind is left with, when thinking is gone.

Hope is what a heart is left with, when feeling is gone.

Love is what a Self-Soul is left as Being, when all else and all others are gone.

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How do I attain faith, hope, and love? I can not. They can’t be “done”. They are each and all the gifts of The More. They are each all the grace of The Less.

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How do we keep seeking after things that we can not understand? We stop collecting answers and we begin to find peace in the questions and mysteries.

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How do we harness and shape our often ornery and conflicting wills to do those things that lead to Something/ Someone More?  We must find the paradox, the balance/ unbalanced nuances in living in spiritual disciple and control and also in letting go and releasing.

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The Three Realities of Faith, Hope, and Love,  are things that I cannot understand, and yet that I know. And that is frightening in the short term and also the only comfort in the long run. I should seek them more than gold, more than praise, more than accomplishment, more than friendship or family, because they are the only things that will create something within my personhood that is worth eternal existence, and the only things that will make my day, my experience, myself have any meaning, any joy, any purpose, any significance. And yet I will never find them as I would any of those other things I might seek.

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Each and every moment, I have to Be, so that faith, hope and love can find me.

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And from a long distance, The Parent saw the wayward child. The Child was slogging through the mud and mire of need, lust, and the longing for meaning. The Parent had waited and waited for the Child to come Home. The Child had traveled far away from Home, and far away from The Parent. She had searched the world through many places and none had been Home. Now the Child was lost in the fog, and the Storms rose up, and all she could hang on to in her terror and despair, was the faint hope that she was finally walking in the direction of Home. The Child fell down again and again and finally she could not go any further.

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And The Parent saw all, and began running toward the child—running, and running, and running with the supernatural power and the freedom and grace that Only True Love has.  And the Child, caked from head to toe in the dust of her human attempts to find the Love she had left at Home, looked up from the dirt, and out of the corner of tear-filled eyes, the Child saw The Parent – not clearly but very dimly through the storm and her tears. And the Child heard faintly above her moans and sobs, The Parent call, “My beloved, I love you.” And the Child couldn’t make out the words, but she heard her Parent’s Voice and she understood the meaning.  And The Parent found the Child and lifted her up and embraced her and held her tight, and the Child couldn’t feel the shape or the strength of The Parent’s arms, but suddenly the Child was held upright and though she could no longer walk, she could be carried. And the Child knew that The Parent had always been carrying her. And They were headed towards Home.

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© Jane Tawel, November 28, 2021

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Jane Tawel

Still not old enough to know better. I root around and explore ideas in philosophy, spirituality, poetry, Judeo-Christian Worldview, family, relationships, and art. Often torn between encouragement & self-directed chastisement, I may sputter, but I still keep trying to move forward.

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