After coming back to the world after my week-long retreat with the Bethany Fellows, I was initially concerned about being able to hold on to the insights I gained while with this ecumenical group of young ministers. I particularly wanted to hold onto what emerged out of the silence. But, after meditating for a while, I realized that if what I was seeking to hold on to was true, then it did not require my grasping of it in order for it to remain accessible to me. To put it simply, Truth is Being. Now I know that may sound a little esoteric on the surface, but it really is the simplest thing imaginable.
In John 14, Jesus responds to Thomas’ inquiry about where he [Jesus] is going [to his Father’s House] and how to get there with three incredibly bold statements. He said:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Thomas’ inquiry had come in response to Jesus’ assertion, “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” You see, from Jesus’ perspective, he had been showing his apostles and disciples “the Way” the entire time that he had been among them. But more importantly, he was being “the Way”.
So what does that mean–to be “the Way”? Well, it’s like what hit me about Truth–Being is “the Way”. And if you’re smelling what I’m cooking, you suspect correctly that I am about to say the very same thing about life–Being is Life. To put it more succinctly, “Being is the True Way of Life”. And that is how Jesus lives and it is the invitation that he offers us–to simply be.
In Psalm 46, the words “Be still and know that I am God” point to this invitation. In the context of the poem, this stillness that allows one to know God is to be maintained “Even though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” That is to say that the knowledge of God–whose very essence is the True Way of Life–is always accessible to us no matter what is going on around us. How? Through being still. Or perhaps it is better expressed, through the stillness of being.
So what does being still look like? Well clearly it is not a physical thing if the earth is being removed and mountains are being carried into the sea. Therefore, the stillness of being must be a level of consciousness. How do we achieve that level of consciousness? That’s the kind of questions we ask in a society based on an acquisition model. But, I don’t think that line of thinking applies here. It seems to me that it is not achievable, but I do believe that it is receivable. But in order to receive it, we have to always be willing to release what we think we know in order to receive that which we do not yet know. As Lao-Tzu said:
“To gain a little every day is knowledge. To lose a little everyday is wisdom.”
What I realized in my meditation is that my trying to hold on to what I thought was truth is in essence a denial of Truth. In order for something to be Truth, it must be eternal and universal. If this is the case, I don’t need to hold on to it as if, out of my grasp, it ceases to exist. Rather, I must surrender to it as the Way of Life. When this hit me, I was able to admit to myself that I needed to make a distinction between Truth as it is and truth as I perceive it to be which may be more akin to what Stephen Colbert called “truthiness”. The desire to discover the truth through our own efforts can be very alluring, possibly even addictive when you think about how much is spent in the self-help industry. But I think that it is important to realize that Truth is not a commodity. It simply is. And perhaps, the fastest Way to living it is not by searching for it in the conventional way, but rather by being still is letting it come to us.