Lawrence of Arabia

October 2009

I am a long time admirer of Lawrence of Arabia. Most of what I know about him comes from the David Lean film with Peter O’Toole. I have for many years wanted to read his tome, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I recently started my way through and I have not been disappointed.

In chapter III Lawrence talks about the “uncompromising semite”. He words are poetic and demonstrate a reverence for this people.

“The Beduin could not look for God within him: he was too sure that he was within God. He could not conceive anything which was or was not God… he arrived at the intense condensation of himself in God by shutting his eyes to the world, and to all the complex possibilities latent in him which only contact with wealth and temptations could bring forth”.

“He found luxury in abnegation, renunciation, self restraint. He made nakedness of the mind as sensuous as nakedness of the body”.

“This faith of the desert was impossible in the towns. It was at once too strange, too simple, too impalpable for export and common use”.

“Their mind was strange and dark, full of depressions and exaltations, lacking in rule, but with more ador and more fertile in belief than any other in the world.”

“They were as unstable as water and like water would perhaps finally prevail”.

I’m not sure what I think of all these conclusions but boy could Lawrence write… what does it mean to be unable to look for God within because one is so certain he or she is in God… It reminds me of Robert Fulghum’s comment that asking a person if they believe in God is like asking a fish if they believe in water or Paul’s quote of the philosophers in Acts talking about God being that one in whom we live and move and have our being…

The comment about being as unstable as water and like water perhaps finally prevailing is reminiscent of the Tao Te Chings words about water…

“Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.”

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