To be consumed, yet not be burnt – the gentle illumination


All Writings, Blog, Observations / Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

It is that image that has always appealed to me.  Yes, it brings back to mind the burning bush, the one Moses saw, and from there, his life changed.  This is not about Moses though.  This is about the bush.  An angel is said to have descended upon the bush, manifesting the Almighty God himself.  With great power, authority and holiness the angel spoke.  The man, Moses, was awed by the sight.  He took the sandals off his feet.  The bush, however, had nothing to change about itself.  The spirit upon it was burning.  Had the occasion been different, only ashes would have remained.  No, it is not how it happened.  The bush didn’t burn, for the spirit, though strong, was gentle, was considerate.  To have burnt the bush for imparting the illumination would have been the sentence of death to a helpless plant.  The symbolism was instead of preservation, of a gentle illumination.

Gentle illumination

Quite this same way, a mind can be illumined but it does not have to be burnt by the light that fills it.  In fact, the light that fills the mind and indeed, the heart, ought to be a light of warmth.  If it is a burning fire, it scorches the mind that holds it and comes through the mouth as words of hate, of vengeance, of death, and of destruction.  Once unleashed without restraint, what good do they bring?  Do such feelings and ideas make any distinction between the good and the bad?  Is there enough sensibility preserved to reason through matters and sort out the distinctions?  Do these fires preserve the bush which they illuminate?

Today there are fires burning, but they are unkind; burning the minds they inhabit.  No, these aren’t fires of passionate creativity to bring lasting works of art into being.  Sometimes these are, and the consumption of the senses by such flames is understandable.  An artist must be in the flame and remain in a state of burning to produce a work of meaning.  With any human work, though, there isn’t the prospect of endlessness and permanence.  It is, therefore, necessary to have the gentleness of illumination, a kind spirit to remain upon the mind.  Does such a spirit arise from within a human being or does it arrive from afar?  If one thinks of the burning bush, then, the spirit of purpose and prophecy has to come from a revealing spirit.  However, within the nature of man himself, there is the divinely created kindness as a reflection of the Creator to let such exceed the burning that finishes in moments.

May we find warm fires within.  We must find in ourselves the kind of creativity, the kind of sustaining warmth that will be a light to mankind.  Now, who among mankind will be the sort that survives and carry such a preserving illumination forward is difficult to say.  It is, perhaps, impossible for us to judge.  Judgments based on an act, or some words, cannot possibly ever encompass the whole of a being.  It is the reason why we seek to find a merciful looking upon this world and its creatures by a benevolent God, to give meaning to our existence at its end if not to be found during the lifetime.

As Rabindranath Tagore said in his essay, The Creative ideal, writes, where he cites a line from the Vedas:

And the truth of pain in eternity has been sung by those Vedic poets who had said, ‘From joy has come forth all creation.’ They say: Sa tapas tapatva sarvarn asrajata yadidam kincha. (God from the heat of his pain created all that there is.)

Did God suffer to create?  So, even God seems to, in his labor to have had a burning to go through, but his love and kindness led to an enduring, enjoyable and beautiful creation.  Maybe the Divine pain was not only the labor but also the irresistible urge that finally compelled the Creator to create.  With all his power, He put in place evidence of love – a night sky with the moon and stars, the Sun set in place to sustain and encourage life, an earth filled with so many colors.  There is the reason in creation itself to be illuminated by the light of the Divine One.

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