Thinking vs. Mindlessness
There are two approaches to the divine life: that of thinking and that of mindlessness. The path of thinking was well trod by the Scholastics (11-15 hundred AD). It is an intense probing of the mysteries of life through the use of reason. The other path is that of mysticism, or mindlessness. It is a meditation upon the mysteries of God seeking enlightenment not through reason but rather through “Aha!” or “Eureka!” moments. It is finding God in the still, small whispers of life where everything fits together as a whole.
Both methods are useful tools to understand our world, and by way of illustration I will use an example from Aikido. When I was first being taught Aikido I was shown particular movements to learn. I used reason about the human body to understand why certain actions would have certain effects. Later in training we learned how to be of “no-mind”, where one doesn’t focus upon any specific thought so that one can pay attention to everything. Even today at stop lights I go to “no-mind” so that I can pay attention to pedestrians, other cars, and what the lights are doing all at once. I remove my focus so that everything can be paid proper attention. The combination of both reason and of stepping back from the laser intensity of reason were necessary for me to understand the little bit of Aikido that I grasp, and the absence of thought I learned is still very useful at busy intersections.
This brings me to the brief comments about this pastor’s sermon. While there is a place for mindlessness and meditation, there is also a place for reason — reason and not reasoning both have their place.I am not sure whether this pastor has drawn the line between the two times in the right place, but experience teaches me there are two times. Sometimes a few Atheists put the narrow focus on reason, but reason isn’t the only tool in our tool belt of understanding. Sometimes a few Christians put the narrow focus on no-reason, but this also isn’t the only tool in our tool belt of understanding. The Catholic Church sees the problem with catholicity, and therefore accepts both paths as ways to understand God and our world.