In Tuesday bible class today we will look at Psalm 46 (A Mighty Fortress is our God.)
Whatever is mean by “fortress” or “refuge” is not understood in terms of strength or permanence. The text describes God as a “fortress,” but then speaks of it as something we experience in the midst of earthquakes and floods. The Psalmist then says, “Be still and know I am God.”
One does not have to believe in God to get something from this text. Whatever is the ground of being stands outside the ravages of change even if that something is nothing more than the nature by which things change.
When we get stuck in a literal or concrete understanding of scripture it is helpful to read science or scriptures from other world religions to remember the poetic nature of scriptural insight.
So after we read the Hebrew scripture, we will also look at a Taoist scripture, the Tao Te Ching, that says the rhinoceros finds no place in the sage to stick its horn. That doesn’t mean that Taoists are invulnerable, it means one who is harmonious with the way of things does not stand outside nature (mentally) to be harmed by accidents. Because the wise identify with all life and not just their own little life they are at peace even with their own demise.
We will also so look at a Buddhist scripture (The Dhammapada) that speaks of “taking refuge” in Buddha, in the Dharma/Dhamma, and in the Sangha (spiritual community.) Again we will ask what kind of “fortress” is meant.
Hopefully between these sources and our own conversation we can get a sense of what it means to say there is a place of peace within a chaotic universe of change.