Friday, October 03, 2003

Touching the infinite 

For some reason, the discussion about spiritual practice on gassho’s Wiki Wednesday reminded me of a recurrent dream I used to have as a child of 10 or thereabouts. It wasn’t a pleasant dream, but not a nightmare either.

Imagine looking at the world in front of you. A few feet or a few miles away, everything is still tangible, within your grasp. Now its night. Look up a little and you’ll see the stars. They’re a long way away, but the distance is still measurable. But tip your head a little further back and suddenly all of infinity is there arching back in an involute spiral; you’re drawn into it and immersed in it yet it recedes away from you for ever; you shrink to nothingness. Holding in your mind at one and the same time your own extreme smallness and something that feels like a direct experience of the universe’s unfathomable infinity.

It was a frightening dream. Not because there was something tangible to fear; no bogeymen, no monsters, no being trapped on a runaway train… Its hard to describe; it was frightening because I seemed to touch the infinite. I woke up disoriented; not crying but inwardly sobbing with the feeling of having experienced something terrible. I could only get back to sleep again once I’d turned on the light, woken up thoroughly, read a book, and become comfortable in the familiar, ordinary world again.

I remember now what it was that reminded me of this. John Ettore said something that made me think of the gulf between the way we – I – practice spirituality, and the almost inconceivable heart of the Christian faith.

I had that dream several times over a period of a year or two but then it stopped. It might not be an altogether bad thing if I were to have it again…

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