Silence, the face of God, is what we gaze on without knowing.
If so, perhaps faith is the willingness to look.
The truly faithful see this.
Cease practice based on intellectual understanding,
Pursuing words and following after speech,
And learn the backward step
That turns your light inward
To illuminate yourself.
Body and mind of themselves
Will drop away and your original face
Will be manifest.
—Dogen, 1200-1253We want words.
Through such experiences, one thing was becoming clear to me: the dangerous power of the face, of the suffering face, the excluded face, the face of a victim. A story of suffering may become a morality tale or be co-opted by theory. A face calls in a different way.
The Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas famously argued that to be human is to be responsible for the suffering of the other, for the person whose well-being our very existence may be threatening. This obligation to others is encountered and symbolized in a unique way in the face-to-face relation. The faces of others present persons genuinely different from us, exposed to us. The vulnerability of the human face presents us with the claim: do not kill me. In a sense, Levinas says, the bare face of another says “do not deface me”; allow me, it says, my otherness without violation, shame, or indifference.4
Wherever we are kept from seeing the face of the other, I was slowly seeing, whether of the other who stitches our clothing, or dies from our taxpayer-supported bombs, we make it easier for ourselves to act as if we, too, are not responsible for that other. It is an option only the privileged have available to them.
(--from, Is Your Spirituality Violent? The Emergence of Violence as a Theme in My Theological Life and Work, by Tom Beaudoin, Santa Clara University http://www.scu.edu/cm/upload/Microsoft-Word-Beaudoin-s-Is-Your-Spirituality-Violent.pdf
What are the powers of violence that our spiritual commitments fail to comprehend? How can those who want to call themselves Christians avoid the demand for the spiritual practice of fostering an anticapitalist, nonviolent relation to God and our sisters and brothers, especially our sisters and brothers whose faces we will and can never see? For too long, the facelessness of the economic and religious other—student, worker, gay priest, terrorist suspect—has kept God faceless. But now Jesus returns to open for us the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, and says to postmodern, consumer capitalist, American Christians: whatever you did to the most faceless of my sisters and brothers, you did to me. An idoloclastic strain in the Christian tradition may now be married to the ethical demand of our time: Jesus calls us by remaining faceless, by being present in and through our relation to the faceless. Jesus is the faceless man, who is kept anonymous by the way our spirituality fails to challenge our economic and religious practices. Jesus is the faceless man, whose flourishing is pinned, governed by our practices.
Yet early Christianity also described Jesus as a parrhesiast, one who spoke confidently, freely, frankly. As a ritual reactivation of the dangerous memory of this parrhesia, we can ask, and ask again: How often do student voices about tuition inform university policies? How often do we ‘consumers’ hear from those who make our computers and cut our flowers? Who speaks for those arrested in the “war on terror”? When have gay priests been encouraged to speak of their reality? Does Christian spirituality search out the face and the voice, not of the random other, but of the other of the body of Christ and of the globalized economic body—the other on whom we depend and to whom we are related through politics, church, or economy?
What would a nonviolent Christian spirituality look like, both in the Catholic world and on the American scene? Might we have to free ourselves from the desire for spirituality itself?
(-- Ibid)To gaze on life, gaze with life, gaze as life -- this is a real radical reality -- one wherein we see what is taking place, feel what we are seeing, and act without acting from within the action taking place as us in the occasion and circumstances wherein we find ourselves nothing-other than what is unfolding within, among, and between (what we have previously believed or thought of as) us and the world, self and other, subject and object, me and you, us and them, this life and afterlife, heaven and hell, haves and have nots, 1% and 99%, black and white, saved and damned, smart and stupid, living and dying.