At Friday evening conversation two words were brought up — one from Belfast, “acedia,” and one from Florida, “anhedonia.”
The first —
Acedia (/əˈsiːdiə/; also accidie or accedie /ˈæksɪdi/, from Latin acedĭa, and this from Greek ἀκηδία, "negligence", ἀ- "lack of" -κηδία "care") has been variously defined as a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one's position or condition in the world. In ancient Greece akidía literally meant an inert state without pain or care. Early Christian monks used the term to define a spiritual state of listlessness and from there the term developed a markedly Christian moral tone. In modern times it has been taken up by literary figures and connected to depression.(Wikipedia)
And the second —
Anhedonia is a diverse array of deficits in hedonic function, including reduced motivation or ability to experience pleasure. While earlier definitions of anhedonia emphasized the inability to experience pleasure, anhedonia is used by researchers to refer to reduced motivation, reduced anticipatory pleasure (wanting), reduced consummatory pleasure (liking), and deficits in reinforcement learning. (Wikipedia)
They were spoken about primarily in reference to their relevance to the inner life of a spiritual practitioner, not in their DSM psychological diagnostic implication.
Try to touch your index finger with that same index finger.
It would be similar to confronting the koan about the sound of one hand clapping.
Both ask for a new understanding of what we’ve called experience. Usually we understand experience as one thing encountering another thing. But your raised index finger, there on its own, represents itself alone without other to experience it. (But...what about its hand? Or the eye watching it?)
The finger (along with hand, eye, foot, and elbow) are each, in themselves, themselves. There is no other to experience. There is only each thing in itself completely as itself in a world without distance or separation.
It is only the mind, the dualistic mind, the making-other mind, that makes two without the intrinsic realization that mind is mind itself, not anything other.
(note: It is 9may, 9AM, and it is snowing in maine!)
(Poem #545) The Moving Finger Writes; and, Having Writ
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
-- Omar Khayyam
It is easier, after Friday conversation, to envision a reality wherein each being the whole. (Or, each-being/the whole.)
And I can’t help but wonder if acedia and anhedonia are inner descriptions of ‘spiritual’ aphasia wherein there is nothing to say, nothing to feel, no place to go, nothing to do.
How so? Just so!
This morning, this scripture:
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”
I can imagine Jesus holding up his finger, saying: Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
And here’s the paradox — with nothing other to feel, you are feeling-itself.
The woman in Warren spoke about the empath, the one who feels what is there in the room, in those gathered, usually, with much disconcerting distraction, a not always welcome experience.
I suspect the closer reality is that, fundamentally, we all feel one/another as foundational being. But that awareness is confusing and considered mystical, invasive, and useless. It is.
But consider this. If we are feeling-itself, and if all presence is inexperiencable, then our not-knowing becomes the freedom to be-who-we-are-without-coveting-animosity.
Each as whole and entire in itself.
Does this make us lonely?
No. Only alone. Or, capital “A” Alone.
The phrase “Alone with God” now becomes “Alone-with, God...”
The father and I are one, he said.
So, too, your finger and you...and the coffee cup, and dog and cats, the birds and rodents across dooryard, the millions of snowflakes falling, the passing car, the unexplainable reality of our being-in-the-world.
To rephrase something said at end of last night’s conversation, about what hospice has taught those there — helpless presence — to care is to be-with.
Gib deine Schönheit immer hin
ohne Rechnen und Reden.
Sie sagt für dich: Ich bin.
Und kommt in tausendfachem Sinn,
kommt endlich über jeden.
(—Aus: Das Buch der Bilder, Rainer Maria Rilke)