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James Smetham,1880, Unsplash

“Once I thought that to be human was the highest aim a man could have, but I see now that it was meant to destroy me. To-day I am proud to say that I am inhuman, that I belong not to men and governments, that I have nothing to do with creeds and principles. I have nothing to do with the creaking machinery of humanity — I belong to the earth!”

— Henry Miller

This statement by Miller seems like a creed to me, proving the opposite of what he intends. I can understand his disappointment. I can understand that desire to exit the rampant human confusion, but one can’t jump out of the human context at will.

I think it’s smart to hold beliefs and principles loosely. But we all belong to both the earth and the stars. We are both a hundred percent physical as well as a hundred percent spiritual. Holding one to the exclusion of the other is walking on one leg.

The earth is a spiritual creation. Its beauty and terror are spiritual as well as physical. Drawing a line between the two is an exercise in futility. We keep trying to fit life into compartments with labels on them. It’s a fiction. Everything is a seamless whole.

Human reason is a helpful tool, but it can never really see things whole. It can only break things down into parts. To grasp the whole, intuition seems the better tool.

I admire Miller and others for their courage to break away from the cultural strictures of their times, but that is only the first step in understanding our place in creation.

We are living in a mystery. What we see is a phantasm, not reality. We live out our lives mistaking appearance for truth. Sweeping our minds clear of detritus is only the first step in perceiving more deeply. Belief, principles, creeds don’t really help us there. A calm, empty mind is better able to receive “the real.” That’s where I agree with Miller.

Once the mind is clear, love shows up as the basic foundation of all life. That energy cannot be put together by rational means. It can only be covered over by the human habit of making mental constructs.

Finding reality is a negative process. It comes from the removal of obstructions. Ideas, concepts, beliefs, principles — those things cloud our vision.

I agree with Henry Miller there, but let us go further. Let us not make removing creeds into another creed.

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