Well, I really went out on a thin limb here (my wife was worried I’d offend someone) talking about a black church in the white south, since I’m white (sorry, can’t help it), and there are a lot of buried land mines in our dialogue. So I wanted to talk about what is unique and special about the black church that doesn’t offend either white or black, and that is a tall order since both sides of this yin/yang are easily offended. The white/black skin is very sensitive in America, especially in the South. It’s like my 80 year-old skin that bruises when I bump something.
So I don’t know if I riffed this topic without offending, but, what I really want to do, is expand consciousness and integrate understanding. If you want to understand white religion in America you have to go to its roots in England and the best root is Mr. Bean is his routine of being in an Anglican Church, falling asleep to the drone of the sermon. This church is rooted in time. Even Alan Watts couldn’t hack it.
If you want to find the timeless you have to find your own body. So just watch a 50’s youtube of white kids surrounding James Brown, just moving a foot or a few hands as their body awakened to the timeless mystical depth of music. Or just look at the mystical presence of Elvis who brought the timeless body of music to white music. White people could not move their body to music unless it was in a dance pattern, which is time.
We have here the clash of the timeless with time. This is the fault line that runs through America. And thank God, the black people brought this timeless dimension to this flatland of stretched out time . America is caught in the either/or of white or black….but the future is white/black. Time/timeless.
So today I went to a timeless place, Mt. Nebo Church, where time comes to die. You can feel time die, like when you are at a wedding reception and you succumb to the music on the floor and just give it up. Women jump in, men usually need a little more whisky.
The body..the body..that is the timeless place. And music is the Body of Christ….because it is timeless.
Okay, I’m going to continue to speak out here (maybe its the martini, that usually frees me up). The root problem of racism in America is a conflict between the body and mind. The body is timeless and the mind is time bound. The body is Now and the Mind is in thought. But Body is oral and the mind is Print. The body is organic and the mind creates machines. So it is not color but a conflict to time with the timeless. When you go to Africa you experience the timeless; when you go to Europe you experience time. There are no clocks in primeval Africa. There are no clock in our heart.
Buddhism, which I practice, is the practice of the timeless Dharma, the practice of letting go of the tyranny of time and thinking. So I felt at home in Mt Nebo today as I felt they were practicing Zen. the art of just being here without looking at your watch to criticize the length of the sermon.
Okay, back from dinner with a glass of sipping scotch. Lets pulls out this thread we working on: the Timeless Black Church. And why, as I said above it reminds me of Zen. Well, everything reminds me of Zen. If you have Zen inside, everything looks like Zen. So what is Zen in my context?
In Zen Buddhism, you ARE time. You are not IN time. While we have to work in time, we have to catch a bus. But while we catch a bus, we can have the sense of Timelessness as our ground. Time in conventional, Time is relative. But timelessness is absolute because Timelessness is not in space/time and it can’t be divided into categories or work, religion and home, and even those categories get fragmented.
The Black Church is a timeless generator because Timelessness generates energy. When you jump into some passionate embrace of work or play or relationship, you experience the timeless and you always get energized. But in time, in the fragmentation of time you feel drained. So we have to take refuge in some timeless activity in order to reboot so we can have enough energy to work in time.
In this way the Black Church as a timeless generator give its congregations the energy they need to survive in the time world of the sectorial society that runs by the clock and the fragmentation of time.
This is Buddhism. The purpose of Buddhism, in the teaching, is to discover the timeless in your heart and to stop living in your mind and thought and time past and future. Oh, we still live in the time world, but we no longer invest in it because we have our ground in the timeless. Meditation is a sink hole of timelessness.