“When all are one and one is all.” A memorable clause from Led Zeppelin. “And everything under the sun is in tune.” A memorable clause from Floyd.
If I embrace all that is, that is not under my control qua permitted or willed by God, as handed down from the Father of Lights as gift to me, I am a saint. This is to carry one’s cross in the fullest sense of the term, whether it be the minor illness, the irritating co-worker, the heat, even the pseudo-tranquility of society that I know is a sham. How hard it is to embrace the given!
And yet, there is another way of embracing the given. A way I think gotten at, however differently, by the above-cited statements. These ways are not ways of picking up the cross. They are ways of defining it out of existence. How?
Take Zeppelin. If “all are one and one is all,” then “I am he as you are he as you are me.” Which is to say that I am not and you are not. That is, that there is really only one person. And since I know I am not “The Person,” (The Man, so to speak), therefore, I am not. This is pantheistic swallowing up of all distinctness into the one that is the all, the pan. But, my dearest daughter, who could have died from that fall, over whom I have cried because of that fall, I know that you are. My friend, as you go your way carrying that load, knowing your family would need you and not have you, as you lay dying, I know that you are not I. We see now. Though through a mirror, dimly, yet we see each other. If I see you, and you see me, and if each of us knows the other knowing himself, there is a we. If there is a we, all is not I. Pantheism is loneliness. It is dreaminess. The dream of being in a field, and being one with the field. The dream of drifting – but no-where.
Take Floyd. “All is in tune.” I have had the day when everything under the sun is in tune. I have had the day when it breaks down. The former is real only to be battered by the latter. The former awakes on the shoals of the latter. If I take drugs, I lose my balance. I cannot see your face or hear you, though your lips move and you speak to me.
When these are my models, I shrink from every upturning of the tables. I flinch when you raise your voice at me. I shrink from a challenge. I cower in the cage of unknowing.
We are all being lulled to sleep. We know something is up, we know something is happening here, but we don’t know what it is. We fall asleep, not differentiating, not discriminating, not discerning, – not judging. Our minds grow dull, ground down by piles of data.
We think that everything that is must be and so everything that shall be must be. We have confused matters. Everything qua not controlled by me is, relative to me, a gift from God. Even when you sin against me, this is God’s gift for me. But it was under your control, and no gift to you for you to close your heart to God in that sin. Yet again, now that you have survived, even your reckless past is a gift to you. So you have children out of wedlock, some venereal disease, some mental disorder because of those drugs: This is now your cross to embrace. Embrace it, you are a saint. Shrug it, you continue the path to ruin.
But not everything that is to come must be as it shall come to be. There are possibilities that shall not come to be. For one, there is my decision. Either I shall, or I shall not, embrace the cross. For two, there is God and there is me. I know I need him to be. I am. So is he. I know I am not he, for I need him. Hence, there are two. And I know I am not you. So, there are three. The real is, and many there are who are real. If all was one, I would need no path. If all is not one, and I am not all, I need a path. I need a way. There is a right way, and a wrong way. There is health, and there is sickness. All is not one.
The modern west is asleep in a pantheistic diffusion of being and dissolution of personality, dissolution of discrimination. Perhaps because we are living at the level of the senses. But even the deer knows that it is being chased. We seem to have fallen asleep like a fool on a hill, relaxing, unwinding, minds turned off, sold down the river. If the animal can judge its enemy, why are we sleeping soundly in the undifferentiated “all is one”?
I went sailing yesterday and caught myself yelling at the crew. (Relatives!) Had I not yelled, we would nearly have capsized. Not gotten back. Someone might have been thrown over. Is it wrong to yell? Is there ever a crisis?
But when I have eaten well, I sleep. All is in tune.
The satiated culture has trouble judging the real. In its smooth, “all is one,” it has no idea what the real is. I might protest injustice as a college student, thinking I have found the real. But actually, Mom and Dad have paid for my lunch. I eat well. I sleep. I wear Birkenstocks. I think that my banner and protest makes me real. I haven’t a clue what “the real” is. Because “all is one”. Because I am “in tune”.
But none of this “in tunedness” is saintliness. It is mindless un-differentiation of the sleepy, half-dead. Wake up from your sinfulness, you sinner. Your enemy, the devil, goes about prowling around. “But when the Son of Man comes again, will he find any faith?”
Anger depends on recognition of me and you, two. It depends on recognition of injustice. Not just “pain” but injustice. I cannot grow angry at the shark. Only at someone. Perhaps the One who made the shark that ate my child. Thus, anger speaks of otherness.
And I cannot know injustice without some awareness of justice. Justice is giving another his due (and I am another to me, in some respect). I must know what is due, and what is opposed to what is due: That is right! That is not right!
If we are all asleep in a satiating pantheistic sleep, we cannot rouse ourselves to wonder, to knowledge of justice, and hence to anger. Who cannot get angry, cannot be just. Since we cannot get angry, we cannot be just. This surely is one of our sins, and it may well be that our satiating non-differentiating sleepfulness is the cause. If no one can be wrong, then all is right. We all know that with this something is not right.
A little asceticism here, a little tragedy there, might wake us up from this dreary dream, that we might set things to right.