ODBlog: Confucius and Doing my Laundry -Rev. David Fekete

March 11, 2020
While my clothes were in the dryer at the laundromat, I continued reading the Analects of Confucius. I have been reading Confucius over the past few weeks. Much of his sayings I can’t understand. But I do understand a portion of them. However, pondering each saying–or should I say wrestling with each saying–puts my mind in a sacred space. Confucius is emphatically about virtue. His sayings make a person think about virtue.
Reading Confucius and wrestling with the meaning of his sayings disposes a person’s heart toward virtue. I didn’t expect my psyche, my mood, to enter a sacred space when I read Confucius. I was surprised when I put the book down. I looked at the dryers, and I felt good about doing my laundry. “This is a pleasant way to spend my time. It is a useful and good activity for me to do,”
While my clothes were in the dryer at the laundromat, I continued reading the Analects of Confucius. I have been reading Confucius over the past few weeks. Much of his sayings I can’t understand. But I do understand a portion of them.
However, pondering each saying–or should I say wrestling with each saying–puts my mind in a sacred space. Confucius is emphatically about virtue. His sayings make a person think about virtue. Reading Confucius and wrestling with the meaning of his sayings disposes a person’s heart toward virtue. I didn’t expect my psyche, my mood, to enter a sacred space when I read Confucius. I was surprised when I put the book down.
I looked at the dryers, and I felt good about doing my laundry. “This is a pleasant way to spend my time. It is a useful and good activity for me to do,” I thought. This feeling was remarkable. Previously, laundry had been a drudgery. So, I was surprised to find myself feeling good about doing my laundry today. Reading Confucius elevated my spirit.
Generally, I find that sacred scriptures of world religions have that effect on me. My Swedenborgian background taught me to pay attention to my psyche when I read the Bible. Swedenborg writes that reading the Bible, “Enlightens the mind and warms the heart.” He’s right. The Bible also makes me feel spiritual and spiritual peace. Other sacred scriptures have an analogous effect on me. When I read the Koran, which I have to ponder deeply at times, I am uplifted. Also, the Tao Te Ching transports me, difficult as it is. Even the Rig Veda, with the catalog of Gods and Goddesses it lists, and its vocative verses seems to lift me.
Sacred scriptures are records of humanity’s interactions with the Divine. My interactions with sacred scriptures give me a personal experience of spirituality. I feel different when I read sacred scriptures. This is a kind of evidence for me. I am not a Muslim, a Taoist, a Hindu, or a Confucian. So why would I respond to their sacred texts? But I do. These texts point toward the Divine. And I think that there is something there. Why else would they affect me as they do?
I don’t live in the spiritual world now. Or at least I’m not conscious of it. So I also read literature from this world. We are given birth without an instruction manual. We make our way through this world as best we can figure out. I think that great literati are sages with suggestions about how to negotiate our way through this world. We certainly get enough of this world. Everywhere we turn, we get this world–making a buck, hustling, doing our job, raising a family, watching reality TV. But part of life in this world is interaction with the Divine. And though I love to read Hemingway and Thoreau, they don’t do for me what the Analects of Confucius does for me.
I will continue my reading and wrestling with sacred texts and my hustling for virtue. My contact with the Divine. That feeling of serenity, peace, and love that spiritual texts give me suggest that they’re onto something. Someone once told me that he didn’t see enough evidence to make him believe. I wonder if he’s looking. I’ll fully admit that there’s no proof I can put before him. But my personal experience has encountered evidence that makes me believe.
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