Jonah and the Whale – 2 – David Hinds – SaachaiArt.com
The English mystic poet and painter William Blake author of Songs of Innocence and Experience was speaking about Stage I spiritual development when he declared: –
They read their Bible’s day and night. Where they read black, I read white.—William Blake.
In this statement, he refers to the person who interprets spiritual teachings literally. The literalist reads spiritual literature at a surface level. This is very often because they give their authority in spiritual matters to someone who teaches from a literal point of view.
The literalist has had no direct experience of the Ground of Being that is given the word ‘God.’ Thus, they speak about what they do not KNOW. The literalist is like a person who invites you to take the journey into revelation through clinging to the signposts. They are like someone who takes you to a restaurant and invites you to read the menu because that is all they know.
This is particularly the case with the teachings of the Bible. When taken literally the central message of this map of the spiritual journey is missed. There is no real spiritual nourishment or what the mystic Joel Goldstein writing in The Infinite Way calls “meat.” (not to be taken literally).
The story of the Garden of Eden, Jonah, and the Whale, The Flight of the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land are taken to be true stories that happened within time and history. Thus, you have Christian foundations funding scientific exploration attempting to prove the date when the Red Sea parted or when the Walls of Jericho fell.
When these stories are taken literally, they have little if any relevance to your personal situation as you live it today.
The literalist makes the choice to believe the stories. This gives them a sense of belonging, but this leads to the practice of blind faith. There is a cerebral acknowledgment of a truth that has no grounding in direct personal and transpersonal experience.
The literalist remains at the level of spiritual development referred to as the Formal/Institutional stage by the psychologist and Christian writer Scott Peck writing in A Different Drummer. This is a stage where you belong to and accept the formal teachings of established religion. You do not question such teachings and you give your authority in matters of spirituality to others within the established hierarchy.
Thus, you think the priest, the Rabbi, the preacher, the Guru know better than you do what is being invited through spiritual instruction. In reality, their level of understanding remains at a superficial level. They see their work as maintaining the established order and the established boundaries of their faith and are thus the blind leading the blind.
They do not, and neither do they have the wish to invite you beyond boundaries of such established dogma whereby you are graced the KNOWING of the Boundless.