Tuesday, June 10, 2014

radical amazement

Rabbi Heschel and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Amongst the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder. The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God and the importance of worship is to take things for granted. Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin. 
"Awareness of the divine begins with wonder. It is a result of what man does with his higher incomprehension. The greatest hindrance to such awareness is our adjustment to conventional notions, to mental cliches. Wonder, or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is therefore a prerequisite to that which is." 
-Abraham Joshua Heschel


  1. I like that phrase "maladjustment to words and notions". Or perhaps tossing them out. When I was looking at the orchid cactus flower bud this evening, ready to open, words that meant anything didn't come, oh, maybe "carmine", but surely not sufficient. I recalled that scene in a film I saw many years ago of F. O'Connor's "Parker's Back" (I think that's what it was titled) where the visiting priest sees the spread of peacock feathers and is caught in wonder (I think that's what was happening).

    1. me too, James. that very phrase really struck a chord with me.

      I started to clean my bookshelf off last weekend and was appalled at all the words. So many reeking of "spiritual" or "holy". It seemed like a sacrilege (all the words and notions). I came across one book - "The world in a bowl of tea" - and I almost gagged. What was I thinking when I bought it. Later I was telling a friend about the book and she asked, was it a Zen sort of book? Yeah, probably, but it was filled with words. She said that she wished I had given the book to her. Dunno ... lots of fingers pointing toward the moon, I guess.



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