Voices

Every person has opposing voices within. I want to do this, but wait a minute, I ought to do that; this would feel right in one way, but that would feel right in another; and so on. We struggle to get on what we think are the “right” sides of these conflicts–to do the “right” things, to think the “right” thoughts.

Over time, a strange thing comes to pass so gradually that we don’t even know it is happening. The more thoughtful we become, the more we become removed from these opposing pressures by becoming their referee. A referee does not seem to be a bad thing; the problem is that a referee has to con­centrate so hard on doing his job that he can’t really enjoy the game as a game any more. He has to be in­different, aloof, outside of the game.

In time, after many years of refereeing, an illu­sion forms. We thoughtful people get fooled into thinking that if we can just see the game right, make the right calls again and again in the battle of voices inside us (ice cream vs. carrot sticks; lust vs. friend­ship; mind vs. body; calculation vs. spontaneity; health vs. debauchery; now vs. later), then we have mastered life; we are in control and are on our way to heaven, even though our pictures of heaven get more and more vague and joyless.

In so mastering life, we somehow, oddly, paradoxically, are no longer in it. We are no longer abundantly alive. It seems to me that the transcendent life, the risen life, depends on coming back inside the ten­sions of these opposing voices, these polarities–living them instead of judging them. We’ll never get life right by refereeing, only by playing, first on this side, then on that, whichever side that is ready to take the ascent or offense at any particular time. Like the tides, like the rhythm of the day, the flow of seasons, life will balance out on its own. This is the true meaning of yin/yang; this understanding is the holy ghost, the union of opposites, spirit and flesh, father and son becoming one on the cross, uniting in cosmic sex, dying, but in dying, living, oh god, liv­ing.

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