In his short story ‘Klein and Wagner’ the novelist Herman Hesse has Klein (his main character) coming to an understanding, an insight about the nature of the human mind. Klein experiences this insight one still night as he gently slips through the surface of a dark lake, sinking irretrievably into its depths.
Klein’s insight: ‘..the only thing that filled the world with differences, opinions, suffering, conflict, war, was the human mind, the young, tempestuous, and cruel human mind in the stage of rash youth, still far from knowledge, still far from God.’
It could be said that sin (that ‘old-fashioned’ term that means basically a falling short, a failing to act in ways consistent with goodness and love), has many a seed in this still young and tempestuous human mind.
Florence + the Machine’s song ‘Never Let Me Go’ brings to my mind this experience of the character Klein. Indeed the lyrics of the song could be coming, I think, from Klein’s mouth as he sinks (albeit he is sinking into a lake and not the sea).
Have a look at the ‘Never Let Me Go’ YouTube link above before reading on.
‘..it’s peaceful in the deep’, ‘..no need to pray, no need to speak’, ‘..found a place to rest my head’, ‘..all this devotion I never knew at all…for a sinner released,’ ‘..and it’s over, and I’m going under, but I’m not giving up! I’m just giving in.’
The song speaks to me of an experience of abandonment, of surrender, a giving in. Life sometimes invites surrender and openness to experience. It is our minds, at times so caught up in caution, distrust, difference, distraction, the fear of uncertainty; it is our minds that can come between human life and an experience of openness to divine love and freedom at the heart of life. Surrender and openness can be about embracing life as basically good and out of our control: holding a lover’s hand, watching birds in a tree, seeing the opportunity in crisis – all these and more have in them invitations to abandon to and grow in openness to life as a creation of Divine Love.
Christian spirituality also speaks of the importance of this giving in. It is indeed not a giving up. Giving up can speak of hopelessness more than hope. Giving in is more about entering into the grace-filled pilgrimage of allowing our egos to be divinely loved; allowing them to fall away from attempts at control and being at the centre of things. As this allowing happens in and through the experiences of life (sometimes in psychically painful and disorientating ways), what can be experienced is a mind ‘falling’ into a new centre: that mysterious ‘selfless self’ of being. In this new centre we can experience the mind of God and allow this mind to affect our own mind. And in time we can find our mind drawing ever closer to God’s mind. As our human minds continue to mature in this grace we discover that maturity means being secure enough in mind to surrender to life’s experiences knowing that these experiences will not annihilate who we most deeply are.
A practice like Christian meditation is about the encouragement and facilitation of a human mind growing deeper into this maturity of surrender. Our faithful giving of attention to our mantra de-centres mind away from ego and readies us to embrace the grace waiting for us within both life’s external and internal experiences. Indeed there can be times during meditation when the mind is quiet and still enough that all that is left is our surrender to Being. And this Being, this Divine Love, never lets us go.
(For more on music, spiritual experience, and Christian Meditation have a look at the Facebook page ‘Art of Depth: Rock and Spiritual Experience‘).