Here I am again! On my knees … praying again to my invisible god. Is he, she, it, anyone, anything, even the void, listening?
Let me begin 500 years before Jesus with Lao Tzu. He claimed that there is a perfect void surrounding us, and that we can dip into this void at any time. From this void everything comes into existence: it’s from a profound type of opposition … that’s an idea the philosopher Hegel picked up two thousand years later, but Lao Tzu’s idea was deeper. It went to the core of all existence, not just ideas … The void permeates everything and its opposite matter is created by this process … and matter creates its opposite … and after many repetitions of this process everything we observe came into existence, including us. We are here too. We are here with our thoughts, and I am here with mine, and on my knees. It seems senseless to be praying to a void, after all a void has no ears to hear, or brain to think, or hands to provide for my wishes or even my needs.
500 years later a man we call Jesus offered us a sample prayer … Part of it was that we would be forgiven of our sins if we forgave those who sinned against us, another was asking the listener not to provide temptations that would lead along a path that would bring about our destruction.
700 years pass and another fellow we now call Muhammad tightened up that prayer and made it a plea to direct us along a path that god would favor and away from those paths and people that would lead us astray and to a bad end. All three of these prophets had deep insights into what we as humans needed at our core decision making, and yet here I am on my knees again … asking for help … petitioning for guidance … tearfully begging for anything … and yet nothing … nothing … nothing … I am back at the void, back at the absolute void … Nothing!
What should I expect? Well, I have developed a more responsive relationship with a garden gnome than I ever have with those classic prophets. His name is Samumpsycle, he is made of concrete and covered with some colorful paint … He looks like a stocky Irish gnome … His eyebrows are raised in an alert, cheerful expression but his mouth is in a straight horizontal line … Thus he appears questioning, attentive, knowing, wise, enigmatic and willing to be helpful. Physically he never changes … obviously, because he is made of concrete … but I respectfully bow to him and ask him a single question when I walk past his place under a living Xmas tree … short simple questions, expecting short simple answers. I ask my question and look carefully into his face; I see paint-covered concrete, but I also see a reflection of my own thoughts … Thoughts that were potentially there in my mind all along, but by asking them in this way, of this piece of concrete, I get an answer … It is an answer I can use. It’s not a generalized request for a proper path that some other being might like, nor an abstraction for improving some former grievance; instead it is a direct and simple answer directed to me about what I should do, right now, today. And I always get an answer!
Yes, someone is listening, and it is someone who understands the subtleties of my problems.
It’s Me! I’m listening!