by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
If you haven't read Parts 1, 2 & 3, this final part won't make as much sense!
My faith had long been at risk and it was not my time at the House of the Dying Destitute that led to its demise. But it was the final pull of the trigger that put an end to that particular misery. My day of liberation from the bonds of at least one belief was nigh at hand. The long journey through the dark tunnel of disbelief toward primal trust and thankfulness was about to begin. I began to reel. I staggered in a wilderness of doubt and despair. My commitment had been total. My fall complete.
Mother Theresa. A saint. God’s best effort. A scour woman mopping up the foul leavings of the devil’s revelries. No. Theism no longer bore the ring of truth or the consent of conscience. Nietzsche opined that every great religion outgrows itself. And though there are none that have not, their bonds endure.
The Temple of Kali lay close at hand and I joined the pilgrims passing by her ghastly image. There was no face to be seen, but three huge eyes and a long, lolling tongue of gold. Yes, and a golden ring where might have been a nose. Four arms she had. In one hand was a sword and in another a severed head. This is the Sword of Divine Knowledge, scholars tell us, and the head the human ego which must be slain before moksha, liberation, can be had. I know not. I know nothing. Only I was struck by the symmetry between these two temples dedicated to Mothers proclaiming the divine, one bringing compassion and the other a sword. Yet the suffering went on indifferent to both.
It has been said that there is a divine light that sometimes shines in Nirmal Hriday. And indeed, I have seen such a light. But there are well placed skylights high above which shed a peculiar ephemeral light that ever seeks unsuccessfully to penetrate the brooding gloom.
Long have I pondered Camus’ Stranger, awaiting the dawn and the sure guillotine. He peers through the bars at the fast fading stars and for the very first time bares his heart to the ‘benign indifference of the universe’ and finds there a brother. Empty of purpose. Empty of meaning. Empty of caring. Empty of virtue. Empty of belief. Empty of self. Zen masters tell us it is ever right before us, Reality. And so it is — if only we have eyes to see. If there is liberation from our universal bondage, it comes not through the pursuit of purpose or meaning, the attainment of saintliness, or the exercise of virtue , but through the realization of the hollowness of all things and every human endeavor.
Thankfulness arises, from an empty heart.