Friday, 4 May 2018

True Inspiration

Many Friends find great value in reading the writings of early Friends. This is understandable. Some of it inspiring, some is intellectually very interesting. Some borders on being incoherent, but overall the hit rate is pretty good.
It is important to treat such writings with some caution, however. As early Friends wrote in the heat of the new inspiration they had found, we may read them hoping to catch a little of that inspiration. While it may inspire us, however, it is nothing like the inspiration that led to those writings.
We may gain inspiration and insight from them, as we might from the Bible, from scriptures of other faiths, and from other spiritual writing from our own or other traditions. I know many feel they get a lot from the writings of Thích Nhất Hạnh; I know I have found value in many quotations from his work.
The important thing is this: as the early Friends noted, it is important that we look to the “Spirit that gave them forth”. Second-hand inspiration is not worthless, but it is as nothing to the inspiration we can gain for ourselves from the ultimate source.
Read, by all means. There is much that is written, by Friends and others, that can help us to approach the source, the seed, the font of all true insight. But do not mistake one for the other. The record of inspiration is to true inspiration as the shadow is to that which casts it, as the image is to the original. It cannot be passed from one to another, but only found, each of us for ourselves. None of us shall ever have its full measure, but we shall each find what we are fitted for, if we seek and open ourselves to the Light.
Written May 2018
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