Global Order Council
August 21, 1972
The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray:
Lord of all power and might who art the author
and giver of all good things, graft in our hearts the love of
thy name and increase in us true religion. Nurture us with all
goodness and of thy great mercy keep us in the same. Through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
Now, what is your Christian name? My
Christian name is Joseph. And who gave you thy name? My
sponsors gave me this name in baptism, wherein I was made a member
of Christ, a child of God. and an inheritor of the kingdom of
heaven. And what did your sponsors then promise for you?
My sponsors did then promise and vow three things in my name.
First, that I should renounce the devil and all his works, the
pomps and the vanity of this wicked world and all of the sinful
lusts of the flesh. Secondly. they promised and vowed on my behalf
that I should believe all of the articles of the Christian faith.
And thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments
and walk in the same all the days of my life. And do you not
think that you are bound, therefore, so to do. Yes, verily,
and by God's help I will. And I heartily thank our heavenly Father
that he hath called me to this state of salvation through Jesus
Christ, our Saviour, and I pray unto God to give me his grace
that I may continue in the same to the very end of my life.
Now you said that your sponsors promised and vowed
that you. should believe all the articles of' the Christian faith
Would you p/ease recite those articles of the Christian faith?
All right. I believe in God. the Father Almighty, maker of heaven
and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was
conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered
under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He descended
into hell, and on the third day he rose again from the dead. He
ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God, the
Father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quick
and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection
of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Now what do you chiefly learn in these articles
that you believe? Well, first I learned
to believe in God the Father, who hath made me and all the world.
And secondly, I learned to believe in God the Son, who hath redeemed
me and all the world. Thirdly, to believe in God the Holy Ghost,
who sanctifieth me and all the People of God. And this Holy Trinity,
one God, I praise and I magnify by saying, Glory be to the Father
and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be, world without any end. Amen.
Now you said your sponsors promised and vowed that you would keep God's holy will and commandments- tell me now, how many of these commandments are
there? There are ten commandments,
given in the olden time to the people of Israel. And shat does
our Lord Jesus Christ teach you about these commandments?
Well, I learned two things from these commandments. my duty toward
God and my duty toward my neighbor.
What is your duty toward God? My
duty toward God is to believe in him. And to fear him. And then
to love him with all my heart and with all my mind and with all
my soul and with all my strength. Then what is your duty toward
your neighbor? My duty toward my neighbor is to love him as
myself and to do unto all men as I would that they should do unto
me. To love, honor and help my father and my mother. To honor
and obey the civil authority. To submit myself to my governor,
to my teachers, to my spiritual pastors. And to order myself in
that lowliness and reverence which becometh a servant of God and
mankind. And not to hurt anybody by any word or deed and to bear
no malice and no hostility in my heart. And to keep my body in
temperance, in soberness and in chastity. And keep my hands from
picking and stealing from others. And to be true and just in all
my dealings. And to keep my tongue from speaking evil and lying
and slandering other people. And not to covet nor desire any other
man's honor or goods, but to learn and labor truly to earn my
own being and my own living. And to do my duty in that state of
life unto which it shall please God to call me from time to time.
Now, do you know this, that you are not able to
do these things yourself; nor are you able to walk in the commandments
of God? Know ye this, that you are not able to serve him without
very special grace which you must learn at all times to call for
by diligent grace? What is a prayer that our Lord has taught us
to pray under these circumstances? Why,
it's the Lord's Prayer. Well, let us pray it, as Christ, our
Saviour, has taught us. All right. Our Father. who art in
heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses. as we forgive those who trespass
against us. And lead us not into trials, but deliver us from evil,
for shine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever
and ever. Amen. All right. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with
you, from this time and forevermore. Amen.
Now. what do you think of that? That is the Office
of Instruction that came out of the ancient church. About every
other day you feel like they should haul you up on the carpet,
don't you, and ask you about these matters'? When I stumble across
such things, I find in my heart a new glow of appreciation that
I'm part of the Church of Jesus Christ in history. With all of
our stumblings in the church and bumblings and all of the blots
on her sacred escutcheon. I am proud to be a part of it.
Now, I want to talk about The Other World. I believe
that we're not going to be able to get that Other World into the
mind and being of the last fat lady if we are not able to say
with precise clarity what we mean in the Sea of Tranquillity by
the life of endlessness in the postmodern world.
You probably have become aware, as you've studied
the chart of The Other World that, though finally there is no
progression (there is only interrelatedness and interaction of
the four or 16 or 64 states of being delineated there) all of
them are in every one of them. To push one button is to finally
turn them all on. Here is a paradox that belongs to the essence
of The Other World itself: "salvation is once and for all,"
but the essential nature of onceandforallness
means everagainness. It's something like that kind
of a problem that you are dealing with. And, as you looked at
the charts, after the first several blushes of coming to terms
with various parts of it you could sense something of that progression
in it. For instance, when you think of the 16 states of being,
the fourth one in each of the four arenas is really an intensification.
In the first one it is the adoration of God
falling in love with the mystery. In the second one it's the intensification
of selfknowledge which is to be found only in that state
of being in which you, in fear and trembling become overwhelmedly
aware of the fact that you are absolutely and utterly accountable
for your Be in history. And only at that moment are you able to
see through everything and do you know yourself, even those parts
of yourself it is impossible for you to ever know. Only when you
grasp the fact that one day you shall stand before the throne
of Beinginitself and account for this fantastic opportunity
that you have had to live yourself one mighty life and die yourself
one mighty death-only when you grasp that you are going to account
for this life of yours-the way you expended it, the way you appropriated
it, the way you forged it-do you really know what the consciousness
of the consciousness about consciousness is. Only then are you
intensified, rarified spirit.
And then, the fourth category in the area of the
Mountain of Care (in many ways this is the hardest one on the
board, save the one I want to talk about in a moment): All my
life, and I suppose all your life at one level of consciousness
or another, you've struggled with what spiritual power is. I think
perhaps you only know what it means to love Christianly - I don't
mean some other kind of love - when you understand that Christian
love is a release, a creation, a bestowal of unbelievable power
that other men do not possess.
I've even fooled with the idea that again and again
the church has slipped into a kind of sentimentalistic concept
of love precisely because of that power; for the gift of daring
to care, not for your own little family and your own little self,
your own little church, your own little nation, your own little
anything I say the gift that comes is the gift of power to enable
people to serve people. And without that gift, perhaps you've
noticed, most of your efforts on behalf of other people are like
the seed that was sown on the rocky soil. This is not a matter
of pride-this power of Agape-it is a matter of wrenching humility.
That's the intensification of the Mountain of Care.
The intensification of the Sea of Tranquillity is
that state of being which I call endlessness. It's the intensification
of the fulfillment of serenity, and the fulfillment of joy in
the midst of blazing uncertainty, tumultuous anxiety, and tragicfilled
joyfulness. The intensification of that is that state of being
which is endlessness, endlessnessness, endlessness,
endlessness. But also it's intensification of the
love of God, the power of Agape, and the inescapable knowledge
that you and you alone give an account of the investment of your
life in Being.
I sometimes think that such a chart as The Other
World of Teresa's Seven Mansions, though utterly necessary because
we are rational people, destroys the very thing that your soul
reaches for and that something in your mind points to. But if
you didn't do that, you'd have sheer chaos. I suppose that epistemologically,
I've never gotten over the Kantian insight. which he obviously
got from Aristotle, that at this moment forty billion impacts
are made upon my sense mechanism providing sensae which, if my
rational facilities did not have some way of organizing, I would
never have what Kant called knowledge or understanding. It's something
like that in the states of being. These are-I want to qualify
Kant the relative, socially conditioned categories that organize
the billion and one states of being that are constantly attacking
your interior deeps-categories which enable you to be present
to the states of being. But at the same time, they get in the
way. The moment that they are organized, the numinal dimension
is reduced into the phenomenal in which you are dealing with the
real one step removed. And harken well to that; even if you don't
understand it, harken well to it: that this is but a screen that
enables me to be present to the states of being that I have.
Now, I'm coming back at that indirectly, and I'm
coming through the state of being that I've lived with now for
a while grief. I like to think that the guy who invented that
word was an artist. Grrr. Eeeeeee. Fffffff. In a way, that tells
all. I am more and more persuaded that the invention of words
is the communication of being states.
You and 1, if we work in The Other World, are moving
from being teachers- though we have to teach, from being prophets
though we have to prophesy, from being priests-though we have
to mediate. to being pastors (only that word still dries up my
mouth), shepherds. carers. We pseudoclerics got trapped
into pastoral counseling in which we used a pseudoother
world to give us our clues to states of being simply because we
had no chart of The Other World. You and I are going to have to
be dealing with many states of being. One of them, of course,
is grief. This is a tragic world. I doubt if there has been any
pastoral ministry in the dimension of grief even one time anywhere
in the world since I was born. There may be exceptions but not
many. As evidence of that, you'd be surprised at the way clergy
and religious people have tried to minister unto me in the last
two weeks. About all you can say is "thank you" and
You have to begin by recognizing the state, and that's
crucial. The first experience, of course, is-you're stunned. I
was not stunned at my father's death. I cannot remember being
stunned ever before. I'm trying to locate this grief in my life.
Now this "stunned" is: first of all your future is cut
off. Stunned is not some ethereal word; it's dealing with your
guts underneath your guts. When you say your future is severed,
that means your life is frozen, and it is absolutely frozen and
not simply a part of it. It's crucial that you see that. There
is a total cutting off of your future which is a frozenness.
And then there is an experience of being rendered
immobile. Everything stops; time dims out; and it is very difficult
even to see any movement whatsoever, even a rustling of a leaf
or the passing of an automobile: and you experience this in terms
of the flow of time within your mind which is your thought process.
At the same time you become sensitive in an extremely 'super'
sense. I do not mean other kinds of experiences, such as you have
had in the past, of perception or your capacity to see through
something. That's not there at all. But you are aware of every
single thing that is happening; and you've got to throw that over
against the fact that time itself has stopped; that some way or
another you do not miss a thing. For instance, if you were in
the presence of this state of being in somebody else, you had
better not go trim your fingernails in public or probe your proboscis-it'll
be seen. And you'll see in a moment why that is true. But there
is not depth perception, there is not seeing through. Quite the
contrary. The curtain is down.
Then you are aware of a thick quietness, a thick
silence, and you know there's noise going on. That would be a
fine time to live in East Garfield Park along the Expressway on
the West Side of Chicago where the noise is always there. You
would know it's going on, but you wouldn't hear a thing. The silence
itself seems utterly objective. And in a strange fashion, then,
you are forced to hear everything. You do not miss a thing. But
all you experience is silence.
Here you're dealing with a crucial part of our theology.
What you are describing in depth is contingency. But you are describing
it now, not through intellectual constructs or concepts, but through
the language of the state of being. And this is fine and proper.
This is not for initiates. It's for your old hands in the Way.
My pedagogical point here is that, if the job of the serving order
is to care for the movement, now you are going to be caring for
people who have been at it for five years, ten years, Fifteen
years and more; then you and I have to learn how to care for them,
and to care for them in the deeps. Many of them have failed along
the way because we did not know how. You don't beat yourself over
the head. What you don't know, you don't know. You give what you
have to give, and if later you have more, you give more.
Now, a second way to run through the state of being
of grief is the experience of being empty. And it's a sudden sense
of being absolutely drained. The crude illustration I have is:
you've been in some bathtubs where the suction is so great that
if you pull the plug . . . shhhh . . . it all goes out at once.
The bottom falls. Some of you remember in our early studying of
Tillich, in the last chapters of The Courage to Be, he deals with
spiritual vitality and then relates spiritual and physical vitality.
There is a total evacuation of your universe. You are aware immediately
that something is missing; and yet it doesn't come to you as something
is missing. It's as if suddenly everything is missing.
You've seen some mystery stories in which somebody
was killed in a big furnished room, and you were there. You had
to go to the police and you come back, and it's an empty room.
Remember some of those mystery stories? It's like you've never
seen it before, but you know, you thought you knew that an hour
before, that was a . . . it's an empty room. I mean, your universe
is gone. You've got to understand clearly that I am not describing
what might happen. I am describing what does happen, or you don't
have this state of being. You have some other state of being.
This is not my subjectivity that I'm fooling with in any way whatsoever.
You also begin to see the cloud appear? That's not
the cloud of apostasy, the cloud of the desert, the cloud of the
darkness that a spirit man always lives with. That is not some
kind of ethereal image or idea you have in your head. That's the
real stuff. When you bite on it, it says "Ouch." Adler's
concept of the hole at the center of being becomes very real to
you in the sense that the hole is broadened in such a fashion
that it utterly consumes your whole inner being. It becomes like
a stovepipe, one of those straight ones no bottom, period. It
doesn't funnel into a hole. Then this hole seems as if it's utterly
unbridgeable. There is no way whatsoever to ever get a bottom
It is then that you become aware of your own fragility.
I like that word. I don't like the words "You become aware
of your own death." Of course you become aware of your own
death, but it's far more subtle than that. We've have some wild
ones in our group who can go off on cloud nine at the snap of
your fingers, but you see, all the rest of us can go off on cloud
nine with the snap of our fingers. That's what I mean by fragility.
Or some under this hardship or that hardship collapse in the way.
You and I have to remember that we are just as collapsable as
the one who stumbled over a daisy and gave up his mission. That
kind of fragility is there. You grasp that you could be blown
over if somebody stood at the right place and blew. You experience
yourself as that fragile. You're not there. There's nothing to
blow over. It's emptied. It's drained. Therefore, a puff could
The other way people in history have talked about this is with the category of weightedness or heaviness. Isn't it funny that when God gives us a chance in our time to think through into the deep secrets of the spirit dimension is of life, you begin to grasp the ontological wisdom that our fathers held, which you and I lost because our immediate fathers had lost it. When you push through, you begin to see that they knew what they were talking about; and you can find many books on these subjects. Certainly a strange heaviness comes, and it comes immediately. You become aware, I think, that your mind is heavy. It's almost as if you feel your brain is heavy, and then you become aware, I think, that your body is heavy, and then, unbelieveably, you become aware that your life is heavy.
It's like there is no resting place. Like many of
the moans that come out of the griefstricken black man in
his seemingly impossible situation in life, you have a deep sense
of the burden of life itself. It's like nobody could ever tell
you again that life is a ball. The first thing you would say to
that is "bullshit." That's what you experience! Life
is nothing but sheer burden. Then you are obviously tired beyond
anything you could ever dream of without a sleepy bone in your
The same experience of weightedness comes when you
become suddenly old. At first I thought that's because I'm sixty
Then it got through my skull that it had nothing to do with whether
you are twenty or sixty. I felt like I was one hundred years old.
But so does the twentyyear old. He's one hundred years old-no
more, no less-just one hundred years old.
Only a mature spirit person can begin to smell the
grace that is in this (it has nothing to do with age). You are
dealing with contingency and that awareness obviously is the grace
The other experience of weightedness is: everything becomes trivia: Everything becomes trivia. Some people are not bright enough not to bring up some practical problems. If you want any sensible answer, this is not the time to bring up a problem that ~ ou've got, because this person (it has nothing to do with intention)-he just does not care-about anything. You could even tell him that you wife and twelve children were burned to death in a fire. He would not care. I'm not talking about what ought to be. I'm just telling you the way it is and you're going to have to minister to people. Then everything becomes raw intentionality. And this is a flip. If you decide to move a foot over here, it doesn't just happen. You decide to move a foot over here. If you decide to walk into that room' you have to stand there and decide to look Pat in the eye. All of the spontaneity is gone. Life has burdened and crushed it out.
Another way people have described this is that you
experience radical abstraction of yourself. You experience not
being there. This is what people mean when they say they are out
of their mind. They are abstracted from themselves. And yet they
experience themselves as being there, but they are not there.
It is somebody else that is there where they are. While you who
are not there are casually observing what is happening to somebody
else that is there; this is what I call negative transcendence
in which you are out in front of yourself unintentionally and
with unfreedom in utter disrelationship.
Now that's just your immediate state of being. But you can't stop there. Because if you stop there, then in The Other World it's obvious there are problems. But everybody knows that in The Other World there are no problems, no burdens, no hostility. Therefore, you can't stop there because that's just one big mess of problems, period.
In the midst of this the spirit begins to operate.
It's not as though it wasn't operating, and then starts. You become
auare of the spirit operating. And here is obviously where temptation
enters; for this is the same thing I mean by spirit operating.
First of all selfpity sets in. There's a subjective side
and an objective side to it. Inside, you experience yourself as
persecuted. Outside, whatever reality there is in this world is
teeing unfair. It's asking just one ounce too much. It's the sense
that it's got something against you. This isn't good or bad. It
is the way it is. You go through your life and you think of your
wife; you think of your first boy; you think of your second boy;
you think of your third boy. And then you go into your range of
collegiality in history. Then you go into what your mission has
been in history, and you're flooded with selfpity. And no
morality here. This is an ontological state of being. At the moment
you don't think of this, but later you'll see (only on the other
side of what I'm going to talk about in a moment) that this is
exactly true of every human being's life. And he's aware of this
in the midst of the shock: Everyone. It shows on some people's
faces more than it does on others. But here is intensified life
has mistreated me. Not her, not him. It has mistreated me. And
your being is consumed with selfpity, and you know every
ounce of what you are saying is true. That's the key.
The second thing that happens is what I call the
flaggelation of pride. Some people, I suppose, who operate on
the moral level would think that at times of grief you think of
the things you've done wrong in life. That's not true. I'm sure,it
is true of other states of being but here it is exactly the opposite.
You feel that God is being vindictive. and He's punishing you,
not for immoral mistakes of life, but for ontological mistakes
of life. This comes. of course, under the rubric of weakness or
pride, but it's not morality. It has nothing to do with the immediate
object or occasion of your grief. In terms of pride, I suppose
a million times down deep in myself I'd say "Get off my back!"
I wish to hell I'd never mentioned showers of blessing. I wish
to hell I'd never mentioned that God had been unusually gracious
to us in the last ten years. I repented a billion times that I'd
ever suggested that we had a great outpouring of the Spirit and
that we ought to learn to be spontaneously grateful to God. That's
what God did; he decided He'd teach you a lesson about your pride.
Therefore, He's vindictive and from now on you'd teeter be careful
how you say out loud what the wonders of life are. You'd better
be careful about how you write songs about waltzing over the waters
of the abyss. For whatever goes on in this universe, He can take
the snot out of any snotnose there is. And He s just the
one who does it. (I'm not saying this is the way it ought to be
it is the way it is.)
And then comes the spirit of rebellion. This
spirit of rebellion happens when the image of what goes on out
there is demonic. And it's malevolent. This is when you cry, "Why
me?" that there is no justice, let alone mercy. But oh, this
theme has been in history, hasn't it'? And only alter that does
the despair of cynicism set in. This is the big joke-that you've
been forsaken. And then you discover that your capacity for trusting
an r thing is gone. This is the flip side: That you're utterly
forsaken, therefore you can no longer trust creation. You can
no longer trust the church or a bearded "hippyhippy
in a white long robe that wandered around the highways and byways,
you no longer can trust Luther or Aquinas, you no longer can trust
your colleagues. Your life has been a joke. And your cause exists
First of all is the objective description of the
state of being; and these are the dynamics of selfhood within
it. And you have to get very clear on these, with a subjective
side and an objective side. And only then do you become aware
that you are being attacked by a third party.
On the plane coming home they were showing Cabaret.
I conned my brother into buying both of us earphones. I saw it
this time, I saw it, I saw it, I saw it! There's no doubt in my
mind but it has a message which I couldn't see, it was so repulsive
to me. Every man has his other world and without the other world
you cannot exist; and if you do not have The Other World, then
you have to conjure up the other world, or you have no existence
whatsoever: Come to the Cabaret. That's why inside the Cabaret
they were rehearsing everything that went on outside. I saw some
things I did not see before. The devil's face would just appear
for a moment on the screen and then fade off. When she was deciding
to abort and therefore continue being a harlot and not pick up
her life and start afresh, his face just appeared. And it was
shocking. Yes, and by the way, that word shocking, is in the movie!
You become aware that you are being attacked by a
third party. This is why Paul has always astounded me when he
personified sin. You grasp that once you give yourself over to
a reality, that reality is operating as a third party relative
to you. That was his insight about sin-and so the personification
here of the devil. If it's just something going on inside you,
you struggle and struggle. Not here. You're attacked this way,
then you're attacked that way, then you're attacked . . . and
you become aware that what's going on does not engage intentionality
relative to any place where you are being attacked. Therefore,
they are not after this or that or the other in you; they are
after y out Because you are attacked from many sides, they slap
you and get away, and they slap you and get away. They are not
after a response to that slap. Then you see he's not after anything
he is pressing you on he's after r out And of course, obviously
what he wants is two things. One is a betrayal of God, or a disavowing
of God. And a betrayal of yourself and a disavowing of yourself.
Dr. Carolyn Palmer was with a group of people in
a conference. She got angry and showed her anger and she said
the devil appeared and said, "Uhhuh, Carolyn, God doesn't
love you, or He wouldn't let you get angry and make a fool out
of yourself!" She struggled with this, and right in the midst
of the group she said out loud (they didn't hear Satan, you understand),
He does, too. They thought she'd gone berserk, but she said Satan
took to his heels. He wants to destroy selfhood. And it's at this
point that you become aware that what is going on here is not
a problem in your life; it's the struggle of authenticity itself,
or the love of God. One doesn't have to be very bright to get
hold of Job. I don't know how many sons and daughters he had,
but they all went, didn't they? And his cattle and so on. Satan
was sent and Satan struck him here and struck him there and Job
says, "No, I am an authentic man." Can you grasp that?
Authenticity and teh grace of God are but two sides of the same
coin, and you cannot dishonor the one without the other. Now what
comes out of this struggle when you stand? This is the great indicative.
You see, as if you never saw before, the dreadful impartiality
of God. And that's like the fires of hell itself. GOD HAS NO FAVORITES.
Do you understand that if that had been some wing's son down in
one of the streets of Chicago it wouldn't have upset me at all?
Who am 1, in God's eyes, different from that wing? nothing whatsoever!
That is the horrible impartiality of God that finally, as the
Hebrews saw, makes God God, and not the figment of our imagination.
And tomorrow it may be you, and it may be r ou, and it may be
r out God doesn't care whether you are twenty or sixty, black
or white, male or female, affluent or not affluent. It's as if
you never saw that before. The holy impartiality of God. The wholly
other, the wildness of God which can never be captured by our
rational sense of justice nor our rational sense of mercy. God
is freedom. He has no favorites-even His own Son. our fathers
have known this.
The second thing that you come away with (somebody
called these the souvenirs): All of your life from that moment
on is nothing but a testing. Nothing but a testing. Everything
that happens to you is just a testing of both imputed and imparted
righteousness-the integrity of your election.
The third souvenir is the ceaselessness of apostasy.
I have said in lectures that nothing ever again could shock me.
I had seen it all, I said. I lied. I had not seen it all. It is
easy to talk about the cloud of apostasy, the cloud of darkness
in which meaning goes away, about the experience of aridity, where
the vitality that makes you iron is no longer present. So easy
to talk about. But you see this cloud of apostasy you bring from
the center is real. Yes, one must thank God and one must have
courage to talk about showers of blessing. I mean showers of blessing.
I don't mean the kind of thanksgiving that comes on the other
side of the struggle that I described. Yet, one must be ever mindful
not of his moral weakness-to hell with that'-but his ontological
weakness. That's the cloud of apostasy, of the desert.
The last point you come away with is the sense of
being doomed. I can best point to that by very brieny saying a
word about endlessness. Plato said in his treatise on religion
that every high religion had an ultimate reality, an object of
devotion, an ethical system, and a view of immortality. I've spent
most of my life fighting that, but I'd like more and more to get
back inside of Plato. If you work back-through what western civilization
did with that to make it into an abstract doctrine-to the state
of being, then I think that you and I can have something to say
to our time. In a spatial metaphor as well as a temporal one,
as Richard Niebuhr points out, we can talk about endlessness as
well as resurrection. And to bring the two together, you are dealing
with a state of being.
Now a state of being knows nothing about time or
space. Therefore, when you are dealing with endlessness in our
time you are not dealing with chronological time nor external
space. That kills once and for all any spatial concept after death
and any temporal concept after death, and a state of being therefore
only has one time dimension, and that is Now.
Neanderthal man put his hand on his head and tried to get an image to grasp hold of this state of being within himself. Later centuries made that into an abstract system of time and space after death. This abstract system was not in the mind of Mr. Neanderthal who came up against the awareness of the state of eternality. The great image, the great think is that you are related to that without which you cannot recognize your contingency. The awareness of the passingness of all things is an impossible state of being if there is not a fixed point. Do you grasp this? There is no such thing as motion without a fixed point. And for the man within this state of being, as we would grasp it today, he has become aware of the Eternal Mystery before he can grasp the comingtobe and the comingnottobe.
It's hard to get that said, in terms of your interior
state, because you've been so conditioned with this, as man invented
the concept of death. Cummings say, "Oh death, I wouldn't
have death, but dying is fine." Man experiences dying; he
invented death. It is man who said that death was the end of that
which is meaningful life. Otherwise death, as your Australian
aboriginees believed, is a return to the dream world, as they
call it. I'm pointing out the fact that man, and particularly
man in the western world, invented the concept of death as the
conqueror of that which alone is meaningful.
In the awareness of the Mystery, before which life
goes and before which death goes, or when we grasp that both our
life and our death are equally meaningful within the Mystery-that
is when you experience what I mean by endlessness. You can say
God takes my death from me and God takes my life trom me, but
what He does not take from me is my Be. And that Be is the relationship
to that which is the transparency equally of both life and death;
Sheer Mystery. That's the endlessness.
It's like you made a little compact with God, and
you say to God that you will be your Be and in being your Be you
will enable God to Be concretely. And God said, "Very fme.
Therefore I will allow you to participate in my endlessness of
Mystery itself." If you begin to get concretion on that,
you see that your poetry of heaven and hell If you don't like
that poetry, take some other. But it's the question of the one
who intentionally he's his Be, and the one who, if you can put
it this way, be's without intentionality-and therefore his be
is not a Be. What's the difference? That's the problem. Here I
have to work with the man who for me has done most in this area,
Jean Paul Sartre. His key to other people, or hell, or the No
Exit, is that your death is that experience in which your life
is frozen-immortalized, if you please. And the difference between
the one who did not be his Be is that he dies a closed, frozen
life. The one who be'd his Be lives an open, frozen life.
Now, practical consequences: Richard Niebuhr be's
-it has nothing to do with you; I'm talking about a state of being.
Richard Niebuhr be's his Be-it has nothing to do with memory whatsoever.
His being he'dthe being of Being. And is there forever. And when
all things pass away, that Be Will be there. It has nothing to
do with his doing this or knowing that; it has to do with his
Be. It'll just be there forever. And that state of being I am
describing is NOW. It's beyond time. In a strange way, Kazantzakis
was able to communicate this far more backwards than he was forwards,
but he was trying to communicate this state of being.
Now, you ask, what are the great feels? I think that
terror is in it. It's the terror of responsibility. I mentioned
selfpity. It's that kind of terror If you have that state
of being, it's impossible. It's that kind of terrifying pity that
comes. You knew, in the 19th century at least, when people thought
of going to heaven as something really downright tremendous, they'd
lost the concept of endlessness as a state of being: it is terrifying.
I've used the word the infinality. I believe what
I've heard people say, that it is God's gift that all of us die.
We couldn't stand to go on and on and on and on. That's the terror
I am talking about.
Nine thousand years from now, what will I be . .
. Why did I say nine thousand? Why not 99? How long is there going
to be Something and not Nothing? And even then, the Nothing, that
is the Nothing because the Something was, will be there. That's
The next one is impertinence. I've dealt with that
category a great deal. But, it seems this state of being is where
that dread is intensified to the limits. You participate in the
everlastingness of Being. I mentioned the West having invented
death. Don't forget that. The whole concept of Nirvana-which I
do not agree with, but it's pointing to this-there's a frightfulness
in it that I think has been overlooked even by the East. But there's
some indicative that it has not.
Then comes the dread of fanaticism. This is a strange
kind of fanaticism. John is very clear that this eternality was
now; it had nothing to do with grave or no grave in this instance.
This means passion. In that state you cannot exist without passion.
I am wondering to myself if this is not the full release, and
only here. of passion. You are deciding the manifestation of Being,
in daring to become, daring to acknowledge the indicative of endlessness.
It's the passion that is present. Now I don't care what poetry
you use (the church has known this in the past. and they have
so moralized and woodenized it that you and I had to laugh at
it and reject it)-right this moment you and I are deciding whether
we are going to heaven or to hell. Use your own poetry. That means
passion. As long as you have your goddamned feet propped up on
a table, reflecting this way or that way, then you don't know
about this state of being: endlessness. Again and again and again
in history, in the histories of all peoples, this state of being
has intruded itself. Now you have the metaphysics bracketed in
any phenomenological exposition; you're not interested in that:
you're interested in describing the state of being that forges
my being, and therefore the Being that he's in history.
I'll not deal with what you take away from this,
but only point out two things which we have pointed out before.
This one is Paul: "If I live, I live unto the Lord. If I
die, I die unto the Lord so whether I live or whether I die, I
am the Lord's." That's an articulation of what I mean by
endlessness. That was his practical stance in the midst of life,
out of which flowed the beingfilled courage that made Paul
the beginner of that body of people that transformed the earth.
The other one is from the Old Testament. It's more
a matter of lucidity squared than anything else. I n the early
days when the theological revolution was more in its fluid period
than it is now, we fooled a great deal with the Exodus understanding
of the term Yah. You remember lectures the "I am that I am."
In our day it has been translated, "I will be what I will
be." Then. I've always liked Buber. He said the word Yah
meant "This is it." Or "You've had it, brother."
I like that. But in terms of endlessness. I like the way King
James' boys rendered that: "I am That I am." Let's say
the Lord himself uttered those words.
On this trip I saw Marcel Marceau. a great, great
privilege. He did the whole evening by himself, the only soul
there captured the audience. He did one of his scenes behind a
screen about four feet wide. He did David and Goliath. He came
out as David and didn't look very tall. He'd go behind the screen,
then come out again and look like he was nine feet tall. Then
he fought back and forth and had Goliath chasing David around.
Just as fast as he could, he'd run as David, then come out as
Goliath right behind him. An unbelievable skill! I figure when
the Lord broke loose the heavens and said who he was. he swelled
up like Goliath: "I Am That I Am." On the day he did
that. he was articulating the state of being that I mean by endlessness.
That's the state that He agrees to allow whosoever will pay the
price in, and through, and with His Son. And whosoever knoweth
this state knows like the back of his hand the 63 above it. some
way or another.
Joseph W. Mathews
August 21, 1972