Other cults taught enthusiasm, the possession of a soul by a god. What seems to be original in Orphism is that it interpreted this sudden alteration, this rapture, as an excursion from the body, as a voyage in the other world, rather than as a visitation or a possession. Ecstasy is now seen as manifesting the true nature of the soul, which daily existence hides.
– Paul Ricouer, The Symbolism of Evil (Beacon Press, 1967)
I’ve been reminded recently of a number of notions of Buddhist “pessimism,” & I think the root of all of them is missing an assumption we make: that when you remove the suffering and confusion, what you are left with is bliss. There’s no need to cultivate it or go anywhere to find it. So the process of achieving paradise is an entirely negative one. Delight is the spiritual default.
Judaism is not about chasing the next great aesthetic high. It’s not about just having feel-good experiences where the sky opens up and you feel all, like, connected and spiritual. I’ve had them, lots of them, some really big ones. They’re fun. But they are not the point. The point is staying focused and present and connected to God in all the small moments, the hard moments, the drudge moments.
– Jerusalem Syndrome (via Velveteen Rabbi)
The candle is not there to illuminate itself.
– Nawab Jan-Fishan Khan (quoted by Idries Shah in The Way of the Sufi, Dutton, 1970)