Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. And we find that we cannot. For all darkness in the world stems from darkness in the heart. And it is there that we must do our work. Marianne Williamson
This is still another version of the famous wisdom of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Williamson, a teacher of The Course in Miracles and a political/social activist, presents spirituality in her books and speeches as something that begins in the depths of one’s own being and has value only to the degree that one realizes any value to the world that comes from this spirituality is dependent upon this realization. Furthermore, value to the world will come from this spirituality as the result of continued focus on one’s own soul as in, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
But the rush of spiritual impulse usually gets co-opted almost immediately by the ego and the “convert” begins to focus on getting others to believe like he does, to have the same experience as he does, and thus the spiritual impetus is immediately short-circuited. One dimension of this problem is that culture usually influences us to think of religion in social terms and the ego immediately begins to utilize this passion to help the individual find a place in a spiritual context, i.e. church, for example. What the Apostle Paul termed “the flesh” takes over and this spiritual dynamic percolating in the soul loses its primary focus–the “working out of your salvation, with fear and trembling.”
This religion thingy. Wow! It still has me baffled. But not really, as the bafflement is only my ego flirting with the awe of standing naked before the Ultimate. I’ve always wanted to “figger this thing out” and now I’ve resigned to my ignorance which I think is what Jesus, and other spiritual teachers were trying to teach us. The need to “figger this thing out” is what happened when we opted to take a bite out of that apple, an action which was necessary if this human experience was to unfold. Our heart pines for the unconscious “memory” of Eden, which Shakespeare captured when he had Macbeth say, “My dull brain is racked by things forgotten.”
The “figgering it out” has brought us all of the luxury of modernity. It has brought us to the verge of solving so many of the world’s ills except for the most pernicious one, the darkness of our collective heart. Having imbibed of the “knowledge of good and evil,” that is distinction drawing or bifurcating reality, we have been able to carve up this beautiful world to accomplish great ends but we are then left with a heart which is determined to continue carving up our world into categories of “us” and “them.” It is that obsession which threatens to be our destruction, a “self” destruction. Yes, “We have met the enemy and he is us” as Pogo told us in a cartoon strip.
“Figgering it out” is good. But it is even better when we realize that this impulse, though having a certain nobility, can become toxic when we can’t give it a rest and realize that life is a profound and beautiful mystery which ultimately we cannot “figger” out.
Poet e e cummings summed it up when he wrote:
when god decided to invent
everything he took one
breath bigger than a circustent
and everything began
when man determined to destroy
himself he picked the was
of shall and finding only why
smashed it into because