We are looking at the Beatitudes as our pointer to the source of the living waters, where we may drink and never thirst again, as Jesus in John 4:13-14 told the Samaritan woman at the well.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
What is it to be “pure of heart”? The centuries-old tradition of Zen practice, centered on sitting still and dwelling attentively in the here and now, gives us a constant reminder that what we are talking about is not something “out there,” some object, some ideal, some goal to be accomplished through our efforts, but rather it is right here before us, in our midst. A Zen talk is offered as a way of pointing to the innermost core of being of each and every one who is there to listen. So we are invited to listen (or to read) with full attentiveness, not letting our mind be swept away by ideas and images, but letting it come back to the here and now.
“Pure of heart”—that’s you. “Nah,” you may be tempted to say. “How can it be little old me? I am just an ordinary human being, with my own issues to work on, with all my struggles and ups and downs in life, with all the narrowness and selfishness that keep coming up in different ways and messing up my life and that of others. How can that be referring to me?” If you are able to identify with that “objection,” please listen again.
Christian theologians beginning in the Middle Ages sought to articulate this immense and awesome mystery referred to as “God,” using different words and concepts that they knew could never be up to the task. One widely accepted formulation affirms that “God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” This is meant to remind us that if our mind comes up with an idea or concept and identifies it with “God,” then it is no longer God, since that idea or concept would have pegged God as something definable. In short, the very term is meant to point us to something beyond what our minds can grasp.
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