Monday, November 23, 2009

There's the vocation you want, and the vocation you're given

I'm reprinting this... Originally published here on 6/4/08:


Silly creatures that we are, we think that we can call ourselves. We think that we choose ourselves.

We can be machines for generating interpretations.

We think that when we do wrong, to recognize it would be a curse.

Then we generate more interpretations to cover up the most recent batch of mistakes.

But there is something outside of me -- radically outside of me -- that generates me. The interpretations that originate in me are mere words. If I want the truth, then I must look outside of myself to the Something that generates me. What do I see outside of myself?

Facts.

An interpretation that does not take into account ALL the facts is just my own wish masquerading as a truth.

And how is it possible for a small, ornery human being, trapped in a particular point of view and without access to any other pair of eyes or set of ears, possibly take ALL the facts into consideration?

Yep, you heard it here: it's impossible. Any interpretation that originates with me is false.

I cannot even say, "Well, this is the truth for me."

I do not have a 360º view of myself. I cannot even decide the truth of my own self.

I did not make myself. I was not the one who gave me life. And I am not the one who decides that I may continue to take up space on this planet.

But I am intensely grateful to discover that I have been made, I do have life, and Someone does decide that I, in all my minuscule insignificance, should find a pocket of space just large enough for my body to inhabit, at any and every given moment.

So, I do not decide that I am here and that I am I. I discover it.

Life is a quest and an adventure, not a series of interpretations.

Wherever do we find the nerve to pronounce, to define, to put forward the products of our thought? How do we ever dare to presume to have an answer??

I have been given this body, these eyes, this particular space from which to view the world, these hands, this mouth, this heart; and they have all been given for only one reason: to help me seek.

Let's stop wasting our lives -- our mysteriously beautiful existence here -- in the fantasy of making up our lives, generating millions of false little answers. The only rational way to live is in asking and listening, asking and listening...and then following.

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."