Umbrella, light, landscape, sky —
There is no language of the holy.
The sacred lies in the ordinary.
No one is able to describe the spiritual except by comparing it to ordinary things. One scripture describes the divine word as an “umbrella of protection.” Another says a god is light. Heaven is supposed to be in the sky, and even ascetics who have rejected sex use erotic images to describe enlightenment. People have to resort to metaphor to state the divine.
Even esoteric languages have been invented, and they mystify the outsider. Holy words always appear that way to the uninitiated. After one learns to read them, their message becomes assimilated. We no longer worry about the images, for we have found the truth that the words were indicating.
When you buy something that has assembly instructions, you follow the directions, but you do not then venerate the instructions. Spiritual attainment is no different. Once you’ve gained it, instructions become secondary. Spirituality gained is no different than the ball game you play, the work you do, the car you drive, the love you make. If you constantly regard Tao as extraordinary, then it remains unknown and outside yourself — a myth, a fantasy, an unnameable quantity. But once you know it, it is yours and part of your daily life.