Thou or It?

My spirituality has taken a radical shift since becoming a hypocritical agnostic.  I say hypocritical because I am not a very consistent agnostic.  Since entering the winter of my discontent, I have distanced myself from the god of my past.  But oddly enough, I am experiencing a kind of spiritual renaissance.  While I see less evidence of a personal god, I have begun to see life as more than a series of meat and vegetable bags.  My spirituality now focuses on seeing the connections instead of the divisions.

Joseph Campbell in a series of interviews with Bill Moyers talked about the “thou” and the “it”.  When I see the other as an it, the relationship tends to be one of exploitation.  When I see the other as a thou, I enter into a sacred relationship where I appreciate our commonality.

I am trying to be more cognizant of these moments of recognition.  When I see the sacred thou, I am very easily snapped back into “reality.”  The challenge for me is going to be finding a way to hold the moment.

Here are a couple of examples of grasping and then losing the moment.

Friday night I went to Panera to pick up some dinner for my family.  As I exited the house, I noticed that it had just rained.  The birds were chirping merrily and the temperature was in the 70s.  Perfection.  I drove to Panera with the radio off and the window down.  As I  walked up the store, I noticed the sun peeking behind the clouds.  Sublime.  I got in line and gave the cashier my order.  She told me the total and I remembered that my wife had given me a gift card to pay.  The cashier asked if I had a Panera card (reward card).  I said, “Oh, I have a gift card,” and went to grab it out of my pocket.

She gave me an exasperated look and said, “A gift card is not a Panera card!”

(No shit Sherlock).

At that very moment, she ceased being a thou and became an it.  The moment was gone.

Much later that night, I woke up at 3am.  I laid in bed for about 15 minutes until it was clear I was UP.  I went downstairs, fed the dog and made coffee.  As I was sitting on the couch, I had a sublime moment.  The coffee pot and dog crunching sounds mixed in a symphony of the ordinary.  I was alive.  Creative thoughts flooded my mind.  I had multiple topics to write about.  I sat there soaking it all in.

Then for reasons that are unclear to me, I almost automatically got up and took two antihistamines.  Within 15 minutes I was in a dead sleep.  Noooooooooooo, what was I thinking???

I am actually encouraged that I see myself snapping out of thou mode.  It gives me something to work on.  I have a goal.  There is no it.  I just need to focus on thou.


7 comments on “Thou or It?

  1. “While I see less evidence of a personal god, I have begun to see life as more than a series of meat and vegetable bags. My spirituality now focuses on seeing the connections instead of the divisions.”

    That doesn’t sound even slightly hypocritical to me – the God Question isn’t as interesting to me as finding the instruction manual for the wetware we run on. The two may be related, but they don’t have to be, and personally, I don’t think they are.

  2. Recognizing the snapping back is important. It means we feel the contrast. When the choice is clearer, the choice can be easier to make.

    “Antihistamines”? Why are you taking those? Chronic allergies?
    And I don’t get the photo in this post?

  3. I have bennadryl in the house in case I have a sneezing fit. But in a pinch, they also work as a poor man’s sleeping pill.

    The picture is just some random picture from an old posting. I was too damn lazy to make a new one.

  4. Histamines are important chemicals in our immune system. It is funny how many people take a pill to shut them down over the whole body to protect just the nose. Have you ever tried a Neti Pot? (google it)

    Don’t you ever post a sloppy picture like that again! I wracked by brain for 45 whole seconds trying to figure out the connection and even re-read the post. I will report you to the US Blogging Commission if you do it again ! 😀

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