Remembering the Fun in Fundamentalism: Going Beyond Words

To remember the fun in fundamentalism one needs to let go of words. Feel free by practicing the Beyond Words Meditation Technique.

"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."--Socrates

A fundamentalist, by definition, literally believes every word of a particular scripture, and lives by a particular interpretation of that scripture. A fundamentalist has found the truth and nothing can shake him from the belief that he is right, and those who think otherwise are unbelievers. The sacred text cannot be questioned as to its literal truth.

I once had a student with an intense focus to the point of fixation. On his first day at our Waldorf school we were saying our morning verse: “The soul with loving light...” He interrupted and asked, “What is a soul?” I characterized it the best way I could to a third grader and related it to the warmth of the heart. “The heart is a pumping organ,” he shot back. Instead of arguing against his anatomical perspective, I asked, “What does four equal?” “Two squared.” “Yes, and six minus two. Which one of us is right?” “We both are!” he shouted, very excited at this new concept that there can exist more than one right answer—in fact, an infinite number. “What is outside the window?” I continued. “A tree.” “Food for a beaver; shade on a hot day; a hiding place for squirrels. Which one is right?” “They all are!” He was never the same afterwards.

This is flexible thinking; but we are usually taught there exists one right answer. The world becomes black and white. Challenge a sage and you will meet no anger. However, with one hoping they have found the truth, challenge them and they will fight for their lives. The problem with relying on words is that words are symbols. Take for example the tree outside the window. The word tree does not describe fully that unique entity. It is an abstraction. Could I ever fully describe a tree from all perspectives? Everyone and everything has a different relationship to that tree. This holds even truer describing a person, holy or not. How can we describe who Jesus was in his totality? Only if we turn him into an abstraction—The Son of God. Mystics and sages in all the major religions came to the foundation that underlies all words, in contrast to fundamentalists who have words as their foundation.

In Indian lore, Brahma the Creator became tired of creating and wanted to go off to find Truth. So he created four sons to take over. However, they wanted nothing to do with creating the world. Instead, they begin the quest. Siva, the Destroyer of Illusions, pleased by their dispassion, manifested as the sage Dakshinamurti. Because of the sons’ pure minds (having been newly born) Dakshinamurti had no need to speak and silently made a gesture, a mudra, with his hand. Instantly they realized the indefinable Truth. Ramana Maharshi, a contemporary Indian sage, said that words are for the mind to play with until the seeker is ready for the language of Silence.

“Be still, and know I AM God.” (Ps 46:10-11, NIV)

So, please, dear fundamentalists, of ALL religions. Words can only point to the Indescribable Truth. Yes, love those blessed words of your holy scriptures. Let them guide YOU. But relax. There is no need to defend your faith if you are secure in God. It’s just as I tell my children and students when someone accuses them of something. “Is it true?” I ask. “If not, stand in the certainty of knowing the truth.”

And remember the beginning of fundamentalism is fun.

Meditation Technique: Beyond Words

A lone figure practicing a mindfulness meditation technique upon a boulder.

So how does one going beyond words? Meditate. Here is one that will help you go to that wordless place. To the Silence.

Choose your favorite line of scripture or any other inspirational statement. It should be fairly short, such as: “I am as God created me.” (A Course in Miracles)

Sit in a comfortable position

Memorize those beloved words of your short verse.

Now close your eyes.

Breathe slowly through your nose. As you breathe in, say silently your words. Breathe them into your heart.

In Silence hold them there gently for a moment as you hold your breath. No strain. No words.

Then exhale through your nose--your breath and your words. Breathing them out to the world. Sharing them. Letting them go.

Repeat this process for 5 or so minutes.

Then substitute your words with the word, “I,” on the inhale.

Silence on the hold

And “AM” on the exhale.


Do this for another 5 or so minutes.

And then for the final round, just breath in Silence.

Hold the Silence

And exhale Silence.

If words try to interrupt, just focus on the breath. Do this for 5 or so minutes until you want to end. If you find that your breath stops on its own, just go with it. Be in that stillness. It is the quiet state of the mind that is wonderful to attain. It is a place of no effort, and no words. It is a place of Peace. If this does not happen that is fine as well. Someday it will if you keep up this meditation technique.

When you live in that Silence, then those cherished words will be even more sacred, for there is no longer any clutching. And like children who grow up and mature, they are allowed to come and go.

Christian Meditation Techniques
Hindu Meditation Techniques
Meditation Techniques Basics
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