WORDS VIII

Words written about things “spiritual”, given a certain temporal remove (actual or fabricated—think The Book of Mormon), frequently become “scripture”. And scripture easily becomes an occasion for bibliolatry. Ironically, given God’s declared distaste for idolatry, this is most common in the revealed religions wherein God had a lot to say.

God is held hostage to his own words, some of which were admittedly spoken in the heat of a momentary state of wrath. He has also made a lot of promises (See? They’re written right here.)—and God is a promise-keeper, even with his stiff-necked and idolatrous chosen, though it sometimes irks him to have to do so.

Because the Book is infallible, everything in it must be taken literally. God does not lie. God is not Truth; he obeys It.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1John 1:1) There you have it. Let us then worship Logos—the Word—the Book.

Disrespect the Book and we will kill you—irrespective of what it might say about not killing.

Nor are the more intuitive religions free from bibliolatry. “The Buddha said . . .” Really? Belief, it seems, requires fixed truths. (Zen tries to overcome this by advocating experience “outside the Scriptures”. “If you meet the Buddha, kill him.”)

Multitudes have been murdered because a mosque sat (now razed) on the supposed birth spot of an “historical” Rama, the hero of the fantastic tale of the Ramayana, now taken quite literally.

This bit of sarcasm is intended as a reminder of our near universal tendency to turn words into Truth. The consequence is more often than not closed- and bloody-mindedness.

I would suggest that Zhuangzi’s words have no more Truth in them than these present ramblings. They are just the scribblings of another work in progress—a work that has no end—a work that is its own end, even if unendingly open-ended.

As always, there’s freedom to be had somewhere in understanding this apparent mess.

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