Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Book of Atheist Spirituality

No review here, just this quote:

And then, all of a sudden...What? Nothing: Everything! No words, no meanings, no questions, only--a surprise. Only--this. A seemingly infinite happiness. A seemingly eternal sense of peace. Above me, the starry sky was immense, luminous and unfathomable, and within me there was nothing but the sky, of which I was a part, and the silence, and the light, like a warm hum, and a sense of joy with neither subject nor object (no object other than everything, no subject other than itself). Yes, in the darkness of that night, I contained only the dazzling presence of the All. Peace. Infinite peace. Simplicity, serenity, delight.

...It was as if a perfect chord, once played, had been indefinitely prolonged, and that chord was the world. I felt fine. Incredibly fine! So fine that I didn't even need to notice it or hope that it would last. I can scarcely even say that I was walking--the walk was there, and the forest, and the trees and our group of friends...the ego had vanished: no more separation or representation, only the silent presentation of everything. No more value judgements, only reality. No more time; only the present. No more nothingness; only being. No more frustation, hatred, fear, anger, anxiety; only joy and peace. No more make-believe, illusions, lies; only the truth, which I did not contain, but which contained me. It may have lasted only a few seconds. I felt at once stunned and reconciled, stunned and calmer than I'd ever felt before. I had a sense of detachment, freedom and necessity, as if the universe had been restored to itself at long last. Was it finite or infinite? That was not the question. There were no more questions, so how could there by answers? There was only self-evidence. And silence. And the truth--but without words. And the world--but without signification or purpose. And immanence--but without its opposite. And reality--but without otherness. There was no faith, no hope, no sense of promise. There was only everything--the beauty, truth and presence of everything. This was enough. It was far more than enough! A sense of joyous acceptance. A sense of dynamic quietude--yes, like an unlimited courage. Rest without fatigue. What was death? Nothing. What was life? Only this palpitation of being within me. What was salvation? Only a word, or else this state itself. Pefection. Plenitude. Bliss.

'This is what Spinoza meant by eternity,' I said to myself--and naturally, that put an end to it, or expelled me from it. Words returned, and thought, and the ego, and separation. But it didn't matter; the universe was still there, and I was there with it, or within it. How can you fall out of the All? How can eternity come to an end? How can words stifle silence? I had experienced a moment of perfection, of bliss--just long enough to realise what these things were.

Get this book. Read it.

The Book of Atheist Spirituality
by Andre Comte-Sponville

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