Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Empty Jar or An Empty Life?

Last week in my Sunday School the teacher held up a jar and informed the class that it was perfect. It was clean and unblemished and had been shined so that it was sparkling. It was also empty. He then said that he was going to put it up on a shelf so that it could be admired. The question that was asked was if this was the correct thing to do, would there be a problem if he were to do that? A member of the class spoke and said that if that were done then the jar couldn't be used for the purpose it was created for.

As the class went on I was reminded of something that I had just read a few days before in the book that I was currently digesting by author Graham Hancock. The book is "The Sign and the Seal" and is about locating the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. While in Ethiopia in the early eighties working on a project he caught wind of a story that the Ark resided in a church in the town of Axum and had been brought there by Menelek, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Hancock was intrigued by the story and set about using what connections he had to do some research.

Now here is what I was reminded of in my class, Hancock went to an island that had monks living there and he spoke with one that said he had not been off of the island in twenty five years. He did not wish to go into the world and be distracted by anything that could set back his spiritual growth. I can guess that he was implying that he wanted to avoid any chance of temptation as well. In my mind I then compared that monk to the glass jar. He was keeping himself clean, trying to attain a level of personal perfection and spiritual enlightenment yet he was also not allowing anybody else to learn from him except for perhaps other monks.

He also was not living in an imperfect world and did not have to face the trials and tribulations that everybody else has to face. So the lessons that he had learned perhaps could not apply to others because we do live in an imperfect world. We face problems on an everyday basis. It's easy to have an answer for how things should be but in truth they cannot be in the real world. We wish that everybody could be honest and truthful but there are many out there that are corrupt and who will try to take advantage of your good will and use it against you. If you do not experience the bad then you will have no defense against it when it appears suddenly.

I don't know if it was right or wrong for the monk to live as he did. That's not for me to say. He felt the need to do so and made his choice and that's between God and himself. I do believe however that if you separate yourself from the world and it's problems no matter how much enlightenment you gain it's not worth much because without works you will go nowhere in this life or the next life and you can't do works while living apart. I know something about this because for a long time I lived a very hermit-like life choosing when or if I would interact with people. Even when I was in public I would only do so if I had no other choice. It was better to drift in and out of places as if I were a ghost leaving no trace or sign that I had been there. Sometimes I wouldn't even speak to another person aside from work or family for days at a time.

By not interacting I was trying to limit how much pain I could potentially expose myself to but by doing so it took away the chances for learning from others, to share with others, to find happiness. Besides, the world has a way of insinuating itself into your existence at one point or another whether you wish it to or not. Then you have to deal with the situation. Is it better to be imperfect yet prepared when that happens or to be at a higher spiritual level and totally unprepared? Who can say? I'm still not the most social person around but I am opening up myself more and trying to experience more of what life has to offer. This blog is one example of that.

If you don't believe in God or any of this then you might think that it's just a waste of time to think about it. That's your choice. I for one do believe, the only issue is defining that belief in a way that makes sense to me in the world I live in and that is an ongoing, ever changing process.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

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