Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Scrolls of Wisdom

“Silence, as a form of discourse, occupies a space even more vast than does language."

"The day will come when human beings will be understanding the beauty of love, then from the heaven there will be flowers falling upon us."

Imagine these words found, a fragment penned on a piece of fragile papyrus – a message from the past.

"But who wrote these words?" we wonder. A breakaway sect of secluded monks, a lone poet with enlightened insight? Why have they come to light now in these modern times?

The past is a mystery to us, at once a barbaric arena and at the same time a well of wisdom. We lower our bucket into the darkness and draw up words in small droplets and wonder. Their context and authorship are unknown, but we know their value. We love the wisdom from long ago. Out of the darkness of the well comes a shimmering light.

Somehow that which has been lost and then again found has a cachet. The words are noble because they are from long ago. "They were oppressed," we speculate, "so they hid their truth in a jar, a time capsule for the future, a message to us."

The Dead Sea Scrolls are currently on public display in Toronto. The crowds will gather and pay a premium price to see these ancient documents, bits and pieces really, an incomplete jigsaw telling of the early formings of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The scrolls have been called "the most important archaeological find of the 20th century." These are celebrity artifacts for sure.

And what is it we want to find when we look at these words from long ago? They are not written in English, but are still their characters are decipherable to some contemporary eyes. Historical fact is nice. The artful poetics of the ancients even better. But real truth forgotten would be the best: stories and events suppressed by church authority, the mystic and marvellous, the alternate gospels shedding light on both the historical and divine Jesus – we hope. Our hearts leap at controversy: what the Church wanted us not to know!

Why is it that words unearthed after two millennia are so much the sweeter for having been lost?

The words at the top of this page are not from the famed scrolls. They were not delicately preserved by the dry air of the Dead Sea shores, decanted and placed in a sealed cave. They were spoken by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi only about five years ago. They were given to us without charge, read without the effort of digging or translating. They were free – not lost like the scrolls, just ignored.

Though Her words live not on a parchment, but on a computer screen, they are, nonetheless, just as valuable, as intrinsic to our well-being, our ascent and the meaning of our lives as that of the ancient anonymous scribes.

And more so.

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