Re Heschel’s “Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.” (1971:7) “If amazement is a good thing why would we want to alleviate it?”

Some comments re Heschel’s,
“Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.” (1971:7)

A member of our One Garden group asked for comments on; “Assuming amazement as something good I want to enhance or amplify it not alleviate it.” (?)

As a question I’m reading that as, “If amazement is a good thing why would we want to alleviate it?”

COMMENTS:
It’s not the amazement that needs alleviating it is our spiritual hunger that needs alleviating – the hunger to be at-one – and to be free of the burden, and suffering, of egoic self.

Concepts, like food snacks, won’t satisfy us compared to the real thing, a proper spiritual meal – which is to rest as our Nondual self – to rest as awareness (substantially ) free of self.

The ‘snacks quotation’ relates to the ‘Citizens of two realms’ quotation. Here is a slightly longer version of the ‘Citizens of Two Realms’ extract’;

“The Search for reason ends at the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding.

Neither of them is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore, and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh.

We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.

Citizens of two realms, we all must sustain a dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm, we name and exploit reality in another.

Between the two we set up a system of references, but we can never fill the gap.

They are as far and as close to each other as time and calendar, as violin and melody, as life and what lies beyond the last breath.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion.

A saying not by Heschel is helpful “The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” – (source unknown though many have used it e.g.Huston Smith)

My reading of Heschel is that he is describing the dual world as the ‘island of knowledge’ and the nondual as ‘wonder’ – the ineffable experience of the Whole, of Mystery – that another great mystic, Einstein, wrote about so beautifully;

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms— this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.” http://sciphilos.info/docs_pages/docs_Einstein_fulltext_css.html

Wonderment is the state we are in when, with selfing subdued, we enter the mystical, Nondual, state – the home of our true Self.

Wondering is the head process of philosophizing – and belongs to the dual realm.

Here is Heschel seeming to say that ‘wonder’ is ‘radical amazement’-l http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=1080

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HESCHEL: Look for the Oneness in interfaith and Reinhold Niebuhr was the one who understood best

Heschel counted among his friends other prophets of this period in our history: William Sloane Cotton, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and others.

He also included among his friends many Christian theologians. In fact, according to his daughter, he said that Reinhold Niebuhr “understood his work better than anyone else.”

In his interfaith dialogues, he avoided conversation on differences; he and his interlocutors explored those religious attitudes which they shared. – http://www.preacherexchange.com/br_abraham_joshua_heschel_essential_writings.htm

Keys to Nondual Interspirituality 1: Heschel – 'We are Citizens of Two Realms'

Heschel wrote;

‘The search for reason ends at the shore of the known;
on the immense expanse beyond it
only the sense of the ineffable can glide.
It alone knows the route to that
which is remote from experience and understanding.

Neither is amphibious:
reason cannot go beyond the shore,
and the sense of the ineffable
is out of place where we measure, where we weigh…….

Citizens of two realms, we must all sustain dual allegiance:
we sense the ineffable in one realm;
we name and exploit reality in another.’

In this wonder-full passage Heschel tells us a number of key things about the nature of what it is to be human and about our relation to the physical and spiritual cosmos.

Heschel is the master on awe, wonder and the ineffable. He is a philosopher and spiritual teacher who is also a poet.

We are ‘citizens of two realms’ tells us that we are born to live in the dual, contingent world. We are challenged to discover, realize and integrate within ourselves the ineffable, transcendent realm. Reinforced by our contemporary society, most manipulatively by ‘mammon’, we are led into believing that this is reality. Whereas from all of the great spiritual teachers we gradually learn, through our unhappiness and the dull ache of not ‘being home’, that this is our false self. The answer lies in realizing our true Self – the Transcendent realm.

The dual is our small island of knowledge – of the dual, contingent world. The nondual is the infinite Ocean that surrounds our little island i.e. Mystery, the Whole, YHWH, the Source etc.

Experience in the ineffable realm is by definition indescribable but thank God the Messengers of God and poets give us glorious intimations.

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To date the best way of describing nondual experience is;

When the heart-mind is quietened, there is only Oneness – the dual world slips away…..

HESCHEL The World’s Pain – some are guilty, but all are responsible

There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty.

The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.

“The Reasons for My Involvement in the Peace Movement” (1972); later included in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (1996).

SOURCE – https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Abraham_Joshua_Heschel

HESCHEL: some are guilty, but all are responsible – the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor

There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty.

The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.

“The Reasons for My Involvement in the Peace Movement” (1972); later included in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (1996).

Abraham Joshua Heschel, “I felt my legs were praying.”

“My father felt that the prophetic tradition of Judaism had come alive at Selma,” Susannah Heschel wrote. “He said that King told him it was the greatest day in his life, and my father said that he was reminded at Selma of walking with Hasidic rebbes in Europe. Such was the spiritual atmosphere of the day.

“When he returned, he famously said, ‘For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was about protest and prayer. Legs are not lips and walking is not kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.’”

See here re a film that has cut out Heschel – http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/01/18/fresh-controversy-hits-selma-daughter-of-rabbi-abraham-joshua-heschel-shocked-by-exclusion-of-her-father-from-film/#

“The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one’s own tradition with reverence for different traditions.”

“The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one’s own tradition with reverence for different traditions.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel

There are more things in heaven and earth…

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  • Shakespeare, Hamlet

Concepts are insufficient – as A J Heschel says, “Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.” He means they are secondary to the unified mystical state of awe or wonderment – that he would say is the ‘real thing’. (Except it isn’t a thing!)

What are the ‘more things’? I’m taking a look at how we get to have the world-view that we have. Clearly world-views are both individual and group.

I might ‘read’ the world as predominantly benign, or predominantly dangerous as part of my personal world-view.

Actions follow the world-view that is held. So in the group known as ISIS it is presumably an appropriate act to burn alive in a cage a prisoner – within their world-view.

To have insight into one’s own world-view and its formation is to have self-knowledge – and probably also Self knowledge

Light in the Iron Cage Heschel and Gnostic…

Light in the Iron Cage (Heschel and Gnostic Religion)

In Man is Not Alone (1955) Abraham Joshua Heschel described the moment of revelation as one in which overwhelming light fills up “the iron cage” in which we live. An undergraduate student with whom I’m working this semester suggested that this was Manichean. I think that gnostic might be more precise. Writing in the immediate wake of the Holocaust, Heschel compared the world to a palace on fire. To whom does this burning world belong? To whom do I belong? For Heschel, the answer comes in a blinding flash of mystical knowledge in which the human creature understands itself to be the special object of God’s concern.

SOURCE: – http://jewishphilosophyplace.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/light-in-the-iron-cage-heschel-and-gnostic-religion/

zachary braiterman writes about and teaches modern jewish thought and culture in the department of religion at syracuse university.

ON WONDER “… just as man is endowed…

ON WONDER
“… just as man is endowed with the ability to know certain aspects of reality, he is endowed with the ability to know that there is more than what he knows.”

“Awareness of the divine begins with wonder. It is the result of what man does with his higher incomprehension.”

ON THE INEFFABLE
“… how would we know of the mystery of being if not through our sense of the ineffable?”

“We do not create the ineffable, we encounter it…”

“The ineffable is conceivable in spite of its being unknowable.”

ON FAITH
“We must first peer into the darkness, feel strangled and entombed in the hopelessness of living without God, before we are ready to feel the presence of His living light.”

“We do not have faith in deeds, we attain faith through deeds – Deeds, not just thoughts or intentions.”

“Faith is the beginning of the end of egocentricity.”

ON GOD
“God is the center toward which all forces tend.”

“… whatever I do to man, I do to God. When I hurt a human being, I injure God.”

ON MAN
“Some of us may find it difficult to believe that God created the world, yet most of us find it even more difficult to act as if man had not created the world.”

ON BEING HUMAN
“… to be human consists of a number of qualities or sensibilities. One of the central sensibilities is a sense of mystery of my own existence. Without it, I cease to be human. I may be a human being, but I’m not being human.”

ON RELIGION
“… Man has often made a god out of a dogma, a graven image which he worshipped … He would rather believe in the dogma than in God … he may be ready to take other people’s lives, if they refuse to share his tenets …”

“We must choose between interfaith or internihilism … no religion is an island …”

“…creed is, like music, a translation of the unutterable into a form of expression. The original is known to God alone.”

ON PRAYER
“Unless God is at least as real as my own self, unless I am sure that God has at least as much life as I do, how could I pray?… If God is unable to listen to me, then I am insane in talking to Him.”

“Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods …”

ON RACISM
“God is either the father of all men or of no man. And the idea of judging a person in terms of black or brown or white is an eye disease.”

“Racism is worse than idolatry. Racism is Satanism, unmitigated evil …”

ON BEING JEWISH
“We are the most challenged people under the sun. Our existence is either superfluous or indispensable to the world; it is either tragic or holy to be a Jew …”

ON CHRISTIANITY
“The vital challenge for the Church is to decide whether Christianity came to overcome, to abolish, or to continue the Jewish way by bringing the God of Abraham and His will to the Gentiles.”

ON THE TASK
“The task is to humanize the sacred and to sanctify the secular.”

ON THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
“The cardinal issue, why does the God of justice and compassion permit evil to persist? is bound up with the problem of how man should aid God so that His justice and compassion prevail.”

“Our greatest threat is not the atomic bomb. Our greatest threat is the callousness to the suffering of man.”

Praying with my legs A J Heschel – http://www.prayingwithmylegs.com/words/index.htm