Grace and the Garage

[ by Charles Cameron — introducing the world of problem solvers and creatives to the world of theologians and contemplatives and vice versa — and then, Simone Weil ]

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I believe this is an important post in its own way, though a short one: because it links two areas that I believe are joined at the hip in “reality” but seldom linked together in thinking about either one.

I mean, creativity, as in the guys working away in the garage on something that when it emerges will be the new Apple, and grace, the mysterious and mercurial manner in which inspiration touches down on us…

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In the first part of this post, then, I would simply like to suggest that those entrepreneurial folk who follow their dreams — typically into garages or caves — and beg borrow and steal from relatives, friends and passing acquaintances the funds they need to continue their pursuit of some goal or grail under the rubric “do what you love and the money will follow” are, in fact, following a variant of a far earlier rubric, “seek ye first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added unto you” – and that creative insight or aha! is in fact a stepped down and secular version of what theology has long termed epiphany – the shining through of the eternal into our mortal lives.

But this will get preachy if I belabor the point: what I am hoping to do is to open the literatures of the world’s contemplative traditions to the interest of “creatives” and the literatures of creativity, problem solving, and autopioesis to the interest of theologians and contemplatives…

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And Simone Weil.

Simone Weil, a philosopher I very much admire, wrote a book of superb beauty and wisdom titled Gravity and Grace. I must suppose that her title was somewhere in the back room of my mind, working quietly away behind the scenes, when the title for this post popped up.

Weil is, shall we say, hard liquor for the mind and spirit — highly distilled, potent, to be sipped, no more than two paragraphs or pages at a time…

A Jew who loved the Mass yet refused baptism, an ally of Communists and a resistance fighter against the Nazis, a factory worker, mystic, philosopher. The poster at the top of this post is for a film of her life: I doubt it will be a comfortable film, but the discomfort will likely be of the inspirational kind.

2 comments on this post.
  1. PB:

    “and that creative insight or aha! is in fact a stepped down and secular version of what theology has long termed epiphany”

    It is nota stepped down and secular version.” 

    In the pre-modern world, Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness were cultivated and given cultural context and value within religious traditions. But it is wrong to assume that this means that the spiritual context for NOSCs is the true, authentic context and anything else is a stepped-down version. It is more like water taking the shape of the vessel it fills: if you cultivate and induce NOSCs within a religious context, you get a religious experience. When we finally get around to exploring NOSCs from a modern perspective, there will be a tremendous revolution in human potential. But it won’t necessarily be religious in nature. 

    “what I am hoping to do is to open the literatures of the world’s contemplative traditions to the interest of “creatives” and the literatures of creativity, problem solving, and autopioesis”

    We definitely need to study the literatures of the world’s contemplative traditions as the first step in an effort to develop a body of knowledge about the various states of consciousness that are available to us and the techniques that these traditions have used to access these states of consciousness. Ultimately we will have to experience these states of consciousness for ourselves and craft modern contexts for our experiences. 

  2. Charles Cameron:

    Hi PB:
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    I don’t think we are really disagreeing, but I may have been less than clear.
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    I guess I’m trying to say two things here: one is that the aha! in the workshop breakout room and the svaha! on the meditation cushion are somehow connected — and the other is that they tend to be qualitatively different. But I don’t think the qualitative difference is necessarily between “religious” and “modern” perspectives, I think it’s between surrendering just enough for a problem to be solved, and surrendering enough for the great koan of life to spring open.
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    If your NOSCs are as profound as Dogen’s or Eckhart’s, it matters not at all to me whether they get labeled “religious” or “secular” — and conversely, if all they amount to is a slightly better advertising slogan, I won’t be terribly interested even if they’re advertising the Dalai Lama or Benedict XVI.
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    It’s not religiosity that matters to me, it’s the profundity of the experience.
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    Great comment — thanks!