Mirabai Starr

Issue #
September 6, 2013

At the Feet of the Mystery

Where once you were fed on the word, now you find the holy one in the center of a luminous silence. In the face of that radiance, all concepts vanish. You rest in the emptiness of unknowing. The hymns and prayers that used to fill your heart with the presence of the divine have become dried husks. Where did the juice go? you muse, more curious than distressed. The doctrines that had sustained you are beginning to sound ridiculous. Even as you recite the familiar liturgy, you find yourself perplexed: What in the world does that mean? you ask.

You dare not speak these questions aloud. Not to your parents. Not to your priest or minister, not to your sheikh or your rabbi. It took these people decades to establish a solid foundation of belief amid the ever-shifting tectonic plates of this life. To them, this dropping down into emptiness is not good news. It looks like a crisis of faith. They will rush in to fix you. But you are intrigued by your own unraveling. You would like to see what comes next. It is a relief to know nothing, to want nothing. If this is an ailment, you think, may I never recover.

It is as if one day you leaned on the edifice of recycled spiritual sensations and established theological constructs and the whole thing came tumbling down. As if the curtain had gone up, the house lights switched on, and the audience vanished. There you are, in an empty theater, with the light in your eyes and a sweet silence in the air. You dangle your legs over the stage like a child, and blink in wonderment. Oh, you say. I got so lost in the play I forgot what was real. It’s not as if the drama was that great to begin with. It was a tragedy: everyone died in the end.

From God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

(p. 70-71) Mirabai Starr Monkfish Books, 2012

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