I believe in myth. I love a landscape where the terrain is far too slippery for the mind. That sense of ever deepening wonder and quantum expansion that unfolds from the core of mythological truth. The feeling of knowing, collective experience – perhaps it’s enraptured you at the end of a beautiful film.
Mythology, literalism and reductionism
Much of the Bible is imbued by the language of mythology. Jesus spoke to the masses in parables. Could it be that the depth of Truth cannot possibly be captured in mechanical description but that Soul is found in the space between the words? The Rabbinical tradition cared little for literalism, instead preferring to wrestle in the oral tradition of allegory – of clever and creative story-telling, dancing around linguistics and breathing new life and significance into ancient narrative.
Recently, I heard Peter Rollins describing scriptural literalism as “just literalism”. Where conservatives would balk at the suggestion of the Bible as “just myth”, Rollins pulls a philosopher’s trick and points out that reductionism occurs within literalism. If the scriptures are merely literal truth, we are stuck with surface level religion. Mythology gives us an opportunity to read the word into our lives, delving deep within the murky lakes of the psyche, perhaps even landing at times on solid ground – that experience of “just knowing” (in your heart). On the other side of the coin, mythology can open us up to deep “not knowing”, which I believe is the birth place of true faith.
More questions than revealing answers
It’s no surprise that we settle for literalism in the 21st Century. The astounding intellectual breakthroughs in reasoning following the scientific “Enlightenment” left religion in the dust. The rationalistic worldviews of Newton, Darwin and Descartes seemed formidably constructed and advanced our understanding of HOW the universe seems to work, with little regard as to WHY. Yet even the hypotheses of such giants come under scrutiny today, as the field of quantum physics seems to again expand the universe in all directions, exposing many more questions than revealing answers.
Religious authorities and thinkers have attempted (feebly in my opinion) to adopt rationalism and defend the teaching of tradition. Thinking shifted on planet earth 300 years ago and as a result we have seen the most phenomenal advancement in technology and human achievement. We’re also teetering dangerously close to the edge of planetary extinction.
The mysterious woods of unknowing
The ancient poetry of Genesis presents us with an archetypical tale which mirrors the current age in the Tower of Babel. Perhaps some may refer to this tale as a moralistic warning against the idolatry of human achievement. But have you ever considered how beautiful this story really is? This is the mythological birth place of language! Of multiculturalism and diversity on the planet. At a time when humanity is on the brink of unifying, understanding and mastering the nature of the universe – language is born, propelling us on yet another adventure into the dark and mysterious woods of unknowing - grappling for meaning.
In this ‘Googleable’ age where answers arrive far too fast, may poets and philosophers emerge from the words, may prophecy and parable ring true in our ears and lead us ever closer to Truth.
Daniel is a wanderer. Sometimes globally, always internally. His wandering has lead him to two questions - what are the obstacles to the flow of love and how can we transcend them? Daniel is a yoga teacher, a love healer and one who thinks too deeply. He is the one who puts the pen to the paper. Daniel lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
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