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Dave Brisbin

Ocean and River

How do you know you’re in love? Can you explain it, define it? Control it? Oh sure, you can talk about effects on your heartrate and attitude…but define, much less control? You just know. The train leaves the station, and you’re on it.

Great movie exchange between atheist and theist: atheist says she will only accept what she can prove scientifically. Theist thinks for a beat, then asks, do you love your father? Yes. Prove it.

Jesus gets this. Said such spiritual processes are like the wind. You can’t see it, only hear and see its effects. Can’t know where it’s going or coming from. Powerful, invisible, mysterious. In his usual enigmatic way as poet, Jesus is saying that love and spirit operate outside of logic and rationality. We can’t define or control anything without thinking about it, and if we’re thinking about it, we’re not in it.

The only way to fall into the complete loss of self we call love is to stop thinking, fall out of control. To be in love is to be out of control, out of our minds. Literally. The mind’s job is to separate, compare and contrast, storing that information for quick retrieval. Great for survival, but to perceive ourselves as separate from, in competition with everyone and everything else is what creates all the misery we see and experience in our lives. The deeper truth is that we don’t even exist independently as separate entities. Our only existence is in being connected to everything else, which is why it feels so good to be in love, to stand outside the mind that creates the illusion of separation.

This is basic human nature, and why Jesus’ main objective is to shock us out of our minds. Look at his words again. He’s a poet, so you won’t see it directly, but an ancient Chinese philosopher framed it perfectly, telling of a river, full of its power during a flood, emptying into the ocean and there facing the shock of its own insignificance, dependence on greater waters.

Life will deliver such shocks naturally, but our minds resist the conclusion. Jesus is teaching an intentional Way, eliciting experiences that will shock us into a benevolent mental breakdown.


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