Friday, June 12, 2015

The Water and the Tea

I'm always interested in how we view God, how we view spirituality, how we view religion.  I'm intrigued by the metaphors that we use.

In a recent episode of On Being, Krista Tippett interview Pico Iyer.  She referred to an earlier interview and said, "I think Paul may have asked you the question that, you know, is always out there: what is the difference between spirituality and religion? And you said — I believe you said this — that spirituality is water, and religion is the tea. I wondered if, what if spirituality is water, and religion is the cup, you know, which carries it forward, although it may be flawed, and we may drop it and break it. I don't know, what do you think about that?"

I loved that idea of spirituality as water and religion as cup that carries the water.

But Pico Iyer had an even more profound metaphor:  "And I should also say when — if I talked about water and tea, I was probably stealing from the Dalai Lama because what he often say that the most important thing without which we can't live is kindness. We need that to survive. And he says kindness is water, religion is like tea.  . . .  It's a great luxury. It increases the savor of life. It's wonderful if you have it. But you can survive without tea, you can’t survive without water."

We are headed into a lectionary time of interesting metaphors, like the mustard seed this Sunday.  What metaphors help us understand our spiritual lives better?

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