Thursday, September 24, 2009

Well, it was like that, but sort of not, but kind of

Have you ever been frustrated in trying to explain a complex concept to someone, where words fail because two or more seemingly contradictory things seem to be true at the same time? Or you just know something, but can’t quite put it across in English and are left using lame metaphors? I wonder if there’s a heavenly language that expresses those things in completely different terms from what we’re used to. Perhaps logic is not the highest order of thought, but the grasp of what looks like opposing thoughts. Linear thought says, “if a, then b, and if b, then c, and that proves d.” Complex thought holds seemingly contradictory ideas in tension. Maybe linear, logical thought is just the starter language for humans; perhaps there’s a heavenly language, our real native tongue, where the building block is complex ideas. What if we could speak in intuition? What if we could speak in paradoxes and understand each other without the stuttering and stammering? I think we all have moments where an idea makes perfect sense to us, but we feel isolated from others because we can’t reduce it to words.

Maybe we’re not meant to, ultimately. My more enlightened spiritual moments come in the form of tantalizing glimpses that I just can’t quite explain. The idea of faith, of feeling certain that the Bible is true and that God is there, trying to communicate with us, is frustrating to try to convey, and yet we’re convinced that we just know it’s right. So maybe when God explains things to us, He speaks in this other language, instead of explaining things in a way that fits our logical ways of thought, like a magician explaining a trick. It could be that in heaven we will be given brand new tools; instead of a giant book of answers that explains everything to our present human level of understanding, perhaps our understanding will be expanded to allow us to grasp paradoxes. I even wonder if that's what the unused 80% of our brains is for.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Human tea leaves

I’ve been drinking tea for several years now, and have only recently come to appreciate the possibilities of green tea. Steeping can make or ruin it. In this process I see a parallel to the process of getting to know people. Unlike black tea, which is fairly forgiving, green tea needs a reduced temperature and steep time to coax out the best flavor, and the leaves should be allowed to unfurl. If you treat it like black tea, you may not get the most from it.

I wonder, do we always let people unfurl gently before us? Do we want to know what their best is, or do we sometimes demand that they be what we want them to be? I have been guilty many times of passing over people who aren’t instantly entertaining or knowledgeable on my favorite subjects, and sometimes I have found that they had much to offer that I hadn’t taken the time to discover. Perhaps this is behind the Asian way of doing business, to go through rituals of hospitality to find out who people are before finding out what they want.