Friday, July 30, 2010

THE HOMECOMING


Part of a conversation between Krista Tippet anf Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue

Mr. O'Donohue: I think that beauty is not a luxury, but I think that it ennobles the heart and reminds us of the infinity that is within us. I always loved what Mandela said when he came out, and I was actually in his cell in Robben Island, one time I was in South Africa. Even after 27 years in confinement for something he never — for wrong you never committed, he turned himself into a huge priest and come out with this sentence where he said, "You know that what we are afraid of is not so much our limitations but the infinite within us." And I think that is in everybody. And I suppose the question that's at the heart of all we've been discussing really, which is a beautiful question, is the question of God, you know?

And I think that one of the reasons that so many people turn away from religion in our times is that the God question has died for them, because the question has been framed in such repetitive dead language. And I think it's the exciting question, once you awaken to the presence of God.


Ms. Tippett: Well, you have said, you write, "God is Beauty."

Mr. O'Donohue: Yeah, I — I, yeah, I have, yeah.

Ms. Tippett: Did you always feel this? Is that something — is that a sense that has grown in you or something that you name now?

Mr. O'Donohue: It's a sense that has grown in me, I suppose, but I've always kind of had the intuition about it, because I feel that there are two ways that you must always keep together in approaching the God thing. One is, and this is what I like about the Christian tradition — and this is where I diverge a little from the Buddhist tradition even though I love Buddhism as a methodology to clean up the mind and get you into purity of presence. What I love is that at the heart of Christianity, you have this idea of intimacy, which is true belonging, being seen, the ultimate home of individuation, the ultimate source of it and the homecoming.

That's what I call spirituality, the art of homecoming. So it's St. Augustine's phrase, "Deus intimior intimo meo" — "God is more intimate to me than I am to myself." Then you go to Meister Eckhart, and you get the other side of it which you must always keep together with it, where in Middle High German, he says"Gott wirt und Gott entwirt." That means, "God becomes and God unbecomes," or translated it means that God is only our name for it and the closer we get to it the more it ceases to be God. So then you are on a real safari with the wildness and danger and otherness of God.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Mr. O'Donohue: And I think when you begin to get a sense of the depth that is there then your whole heart wakens up. You know, I mean, I love Irenaeus' thing from the second century, which said, the Glory of the human being — "The glory of God is the human being fully alive."

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