A great philosopher of incredible wisdom astutely surmised “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. It never ceases to amaze me how the universe manages to reach into what seems to be a grab bag of the infinitesimal and align everything in just such a way as to get your attention. That being said it probably stands to reason that there is little substantiation for coincidences at least as we have come to understand them. God it seems has a way of returning us to a particular crossroads until we come to the intended understanding. It’s like “do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars”, you’re not going anywhere until you get it so get comfortable and pay attention.
Recently on one of my many meanderings into cyberspace I happened across a rabbinical parable as told by an author named Peter Rollins. In typical rabbinic fashion it offered insight into a world colored by sacred questioning, a perspective in which I am especially fond of. It seemed innocent enough yet in just a few short days I stumbled upon this same parable this time told by Moishe Rosen. Perhaps there was something that got lost in translation the first go around? So there I was looking into the face of a mystery and being handed a choice. I could take the blue pill and stay in the dream, remaining asleep to the realities I was being offered or I could take the red pill and see just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Too bad they don’t make that red pill chewable, at the risk of sounding cliché it really is a hard pill to swallow. I gulped deep and dove in.
The parable tells of a certain rabbi posing a series of questions to an inquiring gentile. I guess even in a parable inquiring minds still want to know. Hoping to enlighten the gentile into new ways of thinking the rabbi begins , “Two men fall down a chimney when they reach the bottom one is completely clean and the other is utterly filthy, which one washed?” Without hesitation the gentile quickly replied “The dirty one”. “You’re absolutely wrong!” the rabbi responded defiantly. “When the dirty man saw the clean man he presumed that he himself was also clean and thought how astounding it was that they had both fallen down a chimney yet neither were dirty. However when the clean man saw the state of the dirty man he presumed that he was also dirty and immediately went and washed. ” The gentile feeling as if he now understood said “ask me another”, the rabbi began with his next question “Two men fall down a chimney, one was completely clean and the other was utterly filthy, which one went and washed?” Now puzzled as to what the answer was the gentile thought for a moment and answered “the clean one?”. “You have answered incorrectly yet again” the rabbi said. “When the dirty man saw the clean man he thought is was incredible that that man had fallen down a chimney and remained clean, yet upon examining his own hands he realized the severity of how undeniably soiled he was. He could feel the grime on his face and he could taste the soot in his mouth and he immediately went and washed.” Now being more perplexed then he had been by the first question the gentile collected himself and then said “give me one more question”. Without any delay the rabbi readily agreed , “ I will ask you one final question. Two men fall down a chimney, one was clean and the other dirty, which one washed?” The gentile in a state of bewildered desperation blurted out “I don’t know which one to say it was that washed!” The rabbi excitedly exclaimed “Neither! The question itself is absolutely absurd! How can two men simultaneously fall down a chimney and one of them come out clean?”
It’s clever, it’s eye opening in many ways, and it does indeed illustrate a different field of thought but…WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN! How do we take it to heart? How do we adopt this type of thinking? Needless to say for quite some time this parable and more importantly it’s implications have laid claim to the corner lot of my mental real estate. I should however preface all that follows by saying that I do not by any means claim to have come to the most conclusive conclusions there are many in whom I’m sure could shed a more scholarly and enlightening commentary but here’s my two cents anyway.
When caught in the wrath of a tumultuous storm even an experienced and dedicated crew of sailors will abandon all that is unnecessary casting their cargo(though valuable) overboard in favor of staying a float. It seems reasonable to conclude that we should be no different when coming to grips with grasping for further understanding. There comes a point that if one does indeed wish to obtain a new way thinking, seeing, and being especially one that encapsulates a deeper harmony with the divine then this will more often than not entail expediently and sometimes desperately discarding the dead weight of one’s current perspective and former thinking in the hope of broader horizons and brighter shores. There are times when there is far more to gain by lessening the load, to put it simply if it’s getting in the way, and getting you down then get it the hell out! I personally feel that there are many misconceptions in this journey of faith that we would greatly benefit from losing and it is on few of these needless notions that I would like to address further in the coming blogs. Stay tuned. Talk to you soon.