(Hebrews 12:24) and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than [that of] Abel. (12:25) See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not when they refused him that warned [them] on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape] who turn away from him that [warneth] from heaven: (12:26) whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven. (12:27) And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain.
I learned a new word this month. Well, it’s not actually a new word, it’s quite old in fact–it’s just new to me. Though the concept it represents is not new to me, I’ve always understood what I could not put a name to, other than ‘baseline truth’ which is clumsy at best and lame but was all I could come up with to explain what I knew to be the state of actual being and what is true about anything and everything.
If I had been a better student of Greek history I might have been introduced to the Greek word for this most difficult to describe condition of truth as - ousia - pronounced oh see ah. To say that it simply means ‘to be’ is a complete over simplification because this does not dig into the complex philosophy that proclaims that all things have a reality, a state of being that is authentic, real and definite. Skewed perspectives and views, fleeting cultural trends might perceive something as something else, but cannot change the fundamental essence, substance or ousia of any thing.
In simple vernacular ousia represents that something is what it is regardless what you or I think or wish it to be. Some things are so misunderstood only God can know what is true because humans rarely see the ousia of things as they actually are anyway. We interpret what we see to suit our belief systems, experiences, determinations to hold on to biases, prejudices and influences from other sources. Sometimes those influences are decidedly wrong but, human nature being what it is, there is such strong resistance to admitting to being wrong so there’s little desire to see with corrected vision. And thus misconceptions go unchallenged for periods of time.
I’ve been forced to meet ousia head on occasionally. A time many years ago, possibly right after electricity was invented, comes to mind. I was a project designer for a how-to book producer. I designed all manner of things with all manner of media, from fabric to wood. As an employee I was paid whether my ideas were great or not so great. Given the weekly volume of new ideas that was my job to produce, not surprisingly, not all projects were outstanding but the occasional really good ones generally compensated for the stinkers, which, unfortunately, enabled me into a misconception or false sense of fail safe.
When I moved on to other challenges I unknowingly took this fallacious confidence (or arrogance) with me. Ten years later I had the opportunity to discover that we don’t get to continue on in what isn’t real if we want to grow but we have to be willing to recognize this to see with new eyes what is and what isn’t valid.
Fast-forwarding a decade through a litany of other kinds of creative work, one day I was told of an opportunity to submit a project for a publisher. It was an insider path provided by a friend who knew someone who knew someone. I quickly dived in and threw a quick project together, typed up a brief synopsis of the instructions (which was the only thing required of me in my previous work) and mailed it off, completely confident that it was a done deal. After all, I was following my established habit, what I believed to be true, from my old job and how it was before which, of course, turned out to be a serious blind spot that prevented me from seeing the ousia.
Even as I was shipping the project off, I knew that it wasn’t my best possible work but then, as in the old days, it was done quickly to meet the deadline and it was no worse than the last minute got-to-beat-the-deadline-fill-in projects that I had so often gotten away with before.
Had I stopped to think it through and looked at the situation with fresh perspective, I might have realized the person who would open the package would not know me nor my previous work. Would not see the ‘potential’ in my idea. Would not recognize or be impressed that I had been the Creative Director of a turn key book producer and that I therefore didn’t have to do the actual writing of the instructions because there was an editor to do that for me.
Nope. That simply did not occur to me.
When the standard form rejection slip came, I was pierced through. I have to admit, I took it hard. It was a wake up call that I didn’t really understand for a few days and then, worse than opening the thanks-but-no-thanks letter, when it hit me what had just happened, I was utterly humiliated by my own hubris. The only thing that consoled me was knowing that I’d never meet the person who received that subpar project.
It was sometime later, when the shame pain finally melted into long-term mild regret, that I was able to harvest the lesson–the ousia.
They say, time heals all wounds and wounds all heels. This is possible only because time moves on and human memory fades along with temporary emotion. What remains then is what is true, regardless how unlikeable it is. But it is what it is and only that which is baseline true about anything–the unshakable ousia–survives.
If we really wanted to live free from delusion we would start to question everything we are told, whether in political matters or religious and look only for what remains when everything else fails us.
“…believers must really take stock of their Christianity. Is it just a tradition, an assumption, an external system, the thing which is common acceptance – more or less? Or is it really ‘by revelation of Jesus Christ’ in the heart? A real walk with God, and a growing knowledge of Christ, a life in the Spirit? God has said it: the things which can be shaken will be. What have we got that, being unshakable, will remain?” ~Austin T-Sparks