The Grand Cathedral-Building Project
The grand project we've all been looking for is to make the question, "Where are we going as a people and what is your part in it?" answerable by yourself. Some thoughts along that line follow. I know what I'm here to do: to listen to the silence, and to listen to others who listen to the silence.
This was a post to the OurCultureOurCapitol group.
It is a question for me whether to write anything at all. My thoughts have turned again from a preoccupation with my personal journey to grand schemes about social change in which my ideas have great power, and implementing them is intensely engaging, not a chore. A writer has the silent power I imagined I wished for. There is an even more silent power. And that is why I wonder if I should write anything at all.
Our cathedrals, from now on, are not going to be things that people see. The cathedrals that we build now are our experiences. And you know what to do to feel that chilling awe at an experience you create from stillness.
You, like I, may be looking for that cathedral-building experience. That driven feeling and joy in living you see in yourself those times when you've imagined the big idea, the great project that you will never finish, and you are now about to take the first step in a life free of distractions from your focus on your project.
The Christians and TomotOm will tell you it is not your project. It is the project of G-d, of the universe, of the energy becoming aware of itself. Now you feel that joy in living because you are no longer fighting what you are supposed to be doing. That thing that if you did not do would be done anyway, eventually, and by you. That thing that you can do because you're here, now, in the place where you are, in the body that you care for.
Tomotom says that what you should be doing makes you feel joyful, and what you should not be doing saps you of energy. And that you should refuse to do anything anti-evo unless to avert something worse (e.g., tell a lie to save a life).
Both Goethe and Tomotom suggest "It would therefore be anti-evo to be satisfied with or ever cling to an existing state of affairs."   A mantra of progress, of constant striving guided in the most life- and awareness-enhancing ways.
All that holds out the carrot that we think possible, the ideal some of us hold up for ourselves. Hesse's Narcissus reassures us,
"You should not envy me Goldmund. There is no peace of the sort you imagine. Oh, there is peace of course, but not anything that lives within us constantly and never leaves us. There is only the peace that must be won again and again, each new day of our lives. You don't see me fight, you don't know my struggles as Abbot, my struggles in the prayer cell. A good thing that you don't. You only see that I am less subject to moods than you, and you take that for peace. But my life is a struggle; it is a struggle and sacrifice like every decent life; like yours, too."
Thomas Merton's journals show this struggle. As respected, accomplished, and aware as Merton and Hesse were, did they too miss the essential secret of mind software A, B, or C?
The Grand Cathedral-Building Project
is simply to make the question, "Where are we going as a people and what is your part in it?" answerable by the woman on the street.
Success will be achieved by moving the dialog in our culture toward that subject.
That's all. I think you see how it has already begun, and how you can go further into it.
I will be encouraging the questioning process as the mechanism which leads to that cathedral-building feeling. That constant striving and dissatisfaction is what leads to that joy in discovery of new beautiful experience.
I may write a writing I wish everyone would write. An example. And to read it should take you through a transformation. The transformation you will go through, but you will go further.
What about feeding and sheltering yourself? What about the living conditions of the people around the world that make your way of life possible?
I know what I'm here to do: to listen to the stillness, and to listen to others who listen to the stillness.
Using flush toilets, eating conventionally grown vegetables, spending and working for money are both less and more desirable than alternatives. Yes, I probably will be building some composting toilets, growing some synthetic chemical free food, and participating in the gift economy in the months ahead. And others who listen, and who consider better ways will be doing these things and more.
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, part one; translated, with an introduction by David Luke. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, ISBN 0192816667 (pbk.) 0192510401) winner of the European Poetry Translation Prize. Faust, part two. (I will add related quotes and page numbers later, as I don't have the book here, now)
 p. 294 Narcissus and Goldmund Herman Hesse. (1969) New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.
"We are fighting for perfection of the work of art in and of itself. They are thinking of its external effect, which concerns the true artist as little as Nature when she produces a lion or a humming bird." J.W.v. Goethe quoted on p. xxix in the introduction by Thomas Mann to The permanent Goethe (1958) New York: Dial Press. In that book, which had been retrieved from storage, was a leaflet from the 1950s for the Rosicrucian Brotherhood.
Colin Leath <>
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