Feb 13, 2018

Are You Looking and Listening?

From Emerson, in his essay Spiritual Laws: "My children," said an old man to his boys scared by a figure in the dark entry, "My children, you will never see anything worse than yourselves."

Over the years it has been my joy to teach classes in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In every case, there will be a few students who simply cannot tolerate his style. They call him flowery or wordy or impossible to understand. On the other hand some will be delighted with every sentence, able to penetrate into the deeper meaning or revel in his eloquence.

The other words I love are those of Thomas Troward, who is at the opposite end of the spectrum as far as writing style. He is straightforward, clear and without subtleties. Some students hate him immediately and others find his clarity refreshing. In each case, perception is the cause of the students experience. Perception carries expectation. If we expect to be challenged by the material, we will be. Too many teachers tell their students that these men are hard to understand, setting up an expectation that will be proven correct. If the teacher is alive with enthusiasm for the work, the student will make a greater effort to overcome her own resistance, should it be present.

We have what we think are natural preferences but actually they have been given to us by society. If our training is very scientific we will look askance at mysticism and vice versa. The new spirituality is a happy marriage between the two. New Thought spirituality studies Truth where it finds it. It could be from Groucho Marks as well as Jesus. Can we see it, can we hear it? It all depends on who is looking and who is listening.

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