Empty Days

Thursday, September 08, 2005



Conundrum.

In Russia I was especially attracted by the many churches - not because of their beautiful design, but because of what I found inside everytime. Really, this was an unexpected discovery - I rather expected to go to museums.

There may be a reason to this. The congregation has much less bearing on each parish than in the protestant countries, and every church is open to all and sundry - you can enter it like a temple and there is a service being performed even when there is not one person in the chruch except the priest. The result of this is that everyone is welcome to come and attend. It's really like the house of God and not the house of the congregation only.

They have that in France too as in most catholic countries, I think - great parisian cathedrals may stand nearly empty most of the time but they are open to all and doing service.

It is said that the Holy Spirit manifests in the church during lithurgy (communion) - this can't be verified to say the least, but it would be a very good explanation as to what came over me during those services. I don't know what touched me so much that I started sobbing uncontrollably whenever the service reached up to communion, and only then, and not at any other time - there is truly no rational explanation that I can think of. I have heard of priests nearly collapsing from that same effect while holding the cup and calling for the Holy Spirit - but I can only guess what they felt or how deeply.

I certainly would never have believed any of this would happen to me. And I can't draw any rational conclusions or say that I know more now than I knew before.

What I know is that I can't feel this by my own effort.

And now that I am back to this land of futility and abandonment, where there are no such churches to go to freely, what can I do except resume the usual despair and lie down into the coffin of my solitude?

***

It is true that there is also the church of wild nature, remote from all human futility, where the only worshipping priest is one's own soul - but to reach to it one has to leave everything behind - and I am not sure I have enough spirit to do this yet.

It is difficult to express just how much I detest all the stuff of the modern world with its hopelessly material thinking and its system of useless values. The more riches and comforts I see, the more despair I feel. After the poor rusty sights of a provincial town in eastern Ukraine, the airport of Munich seemed like some sort of crystal-palace full of golden things - but what I saw was a wasteland of comfortable egotism and utter futility envelopping every one of those supposedly superior people.

I know by experience what's inside all this rationally enhanced luxury - just rot and emptiness - and it's inside me too because I live here.

***

There is no worse way to talk of spritual things than to talk about them without true experience but from what others have said. I do that often and most of those who write on such subjects do that too - because we all want to imagine we know and understand more than we really do.

It'd be probably safe to say that almost every mention of God in human talk is done in vain and is a stupid offense to something much greater than we can imagine. The more intellectually loaded the talk, the greater and stupider the offense.

I do believe it doesn't stick though.

Most of the New Age "spiritual talk" is such blathering - done by people who know nothing yet imagine otherwise. The desire to achieve more comfort is paramount in New Age thinking - which is why it always smacks of rot.
A desert fathers remarks: one will never overcome one's passions and one's ego if one only wants to escape the suffering they bring. What he means is this: you can't do it alone, you must seek not your own inner comfort but to know God and let him enter you and transform you. Another desert father says: salvation or fall happen not in a minute but in a second and less.

***

In Saint-Petersburg I met a guy who came back from his fourth trip to India. He was exceedingly thin and hardly said a word. Apparently he went to rural India to achieve complete silence and overcome his ego (he went without money but later wrote to friends in Russia asking for some donations). It was impossible to communicate with him because he never answered. However at one point there was the tv on and I asked him how it was in India - he didn't answer, but at that moment the tv started talking about India and it was said that some people there spend so much energy in spiritual effort that they sometimes lose a few pounds per hour from pure inner burning.

An interesting way of answering questions without interrupting one's silence. I guess his trips weren't completely useless.





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