Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review by Priest and Author Simon Small

"I shall give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart".

These words of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas would not stop repeating themselves in my mind as I read Naked Being. They point to the nameless, pure, unborn presence that we all are, before we become.

It can never be seen, heard or touched because it is what we truly are. It is who we are before anything was. The saying suggests that our deepest identity is like a source of light that can never shine on itself, but illumines everything on which it rests its gaze. And too easily it can become confused, believing itself to be that which it only really sees.

It is when this timeless essence remembers itself that what Jonathan Harrison calls "naked being" arises. It is what is revealed, as Jesus explains elsewhere in Thomas, "when you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children, then you will see the child of the living one and you will not be afraid".

There are many great teachings from the past, like the Gospel of Thomas, that seek to evoke this awakening. But they come from a different time and another culture and can struggle to fully connect with modern twenty-first century minds. So we need such teachings for our own time and Naked Being is such a contribution.

Like all authentic teachings of awakening it does not offer yet another doctrine or philosophy, yet more information to fill our already overloaded minds. Instead, it seeks to evoke in the reader a taste of that to which it points. It uses short, penetrating sayings that work away in the mind, gently dismantling the false, intensely personal thought world in which most of us live, most of the time. The passages are not statements on which one takes a position, agreeing or disagreeing, but are given for deep reflection - a journey that can take us to an experience far beyond their literal meaning.

All minds are wonderfully different, so a great variety of teachings are necessary. For many, Naked Being will be a powerful and true mirror.

Simon Small