Meditations (Spirituality): Color is God
Color is God
For nearly six months of the year, the Central Valley of California gets as much rain as the Sahara—none. Then suddenly one day in October, everything changes, and the skies open up. The land itself seems to rejoice.
Cloudy skies in the morning and high winds in the afternoon foretold the downpour of early evening. The water pelted the street and the house, and washed layers of dirt from the turning leaves and dusty paths in the park. (The smells the next day were incredible—at once pungent, sweet, and rich.)
It was a tremendous storm, but it didn’t last very long. In less than an hour it was over; the winds died down and the skies to the west began to clear.
As the downpour became a shower, the most vivid, complete, and spectacular rainbow I’ve ever seen appeared in the eastern sky. It was actually a double rainbow, but the lower one, stretching a full 180 degrees across the sky, was far sharper, and a wonder to behold.
The violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red of the seamless spectrum were deep and crisp beyond imagining. For 20 minutes the colors beguiled the eye, the essence of life made visible. As I watched it slowly fade, I understood as never before what a religious philosopher meant when he said: “Color is God.”
The shower stopped, and there was a hush in the air, which even the desperate din of the freeway at rush hour could not overwhelm. The silence after the storm was palpable, reaching in from beyond the baying dogs and traffic noise.
Negation and nihilism are completely different things. The act of negating each thought and emotion in attention, as they arise, opens the mind and heart to sublimities beyond words. In the ensuing meditative state, the world falls away, without separating oneself.
Nihilism, on the other hand, is a reaction to the world, an anti-belief to the beliefs of religion and morality. Since religions and morality are made by the human mind, when they break down, the nihilistic reaction is to believe that life is pointless and human values are worthless.
In late 19th century Russia, nihilism was a political movement which aimed to bring about a just new society by destroying the existing one through acts of terrorism and assassination. As such, nihilism is closely related to fundamentalism, whether Christian or Islamic, presently culminating in fascism in the West, and despotism in the Middle East.
Anarchism is an ideology that rejects the need for a system of government, as well as a movement that resists all forms of authority and control. Generally speaking, anarchism has a cause, whereas nihilism is a destructive worldview that makes the fatal error of equating the world with life.
Negation, however, is neither reactive, nor negative. It is the action of ending the movement of the past within oneself, through an intense and loving observation. There is no rainbow at the end. There’s just the emptying of the mind, which allows life to flow freely in one’s awareness.
The age-old problem is whether to only be concerned about one’s own illumination, or to place one’s enlightenment in the context of concern for the world. That roughly describes the two streams of Buddhism, but the quandary isn’t Buddhist; it’s the human condition.
Ultimately, this translates into two kinds of emptiness—a void which results from never deeply letting go of the past; or a silence of being that comes with complete negation of everything one knows. Inner accumulation leads to the deadness all too evident in people in the West. But negation in meditation allows continuous regeneration and growth.
As the last of the rainbow dissolved I turned around to see the western sky suffused with light and color. A small ceiling of corrugated clouds shimmered above the setting sun, looking more than three-dimensional.
Suddenly a hummingbird appeared. It was of a nondescript color except for an iridescent red throat, which was flashing in the last bright light of the sun. The tiny bird hovered in front of me, backed away a few meters, and then jetted inches over my head. Was it reflecting the sense of mystery and love I was feeling for the earth?
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.