“God gently reassures him [Man] that the deepest contradictions of human life are not to be solved but to be lived in full consciousness of their contradictoriness.”
— Jacob Needleman writing in “Money and the Meaning of Life” (226) quoting Isma’il Al-Faruqi, “On the Ethics of the Brethren of Purity” – Muslim World, July, 1960
Needleman continues “What is most necessary for man and what is given to him in abundance are experiences, especially experiences of the forces within him. This is his most essential food, his most essential wealth. If man consciously receives all of this abundance, the universe will pour into him what is called life in Judaism, spirit in Christianity, light in Islam, power in Taoism.”
To me, the key word here is “consciously” — to “consciously receive” does not mean to hungrily seek and acquire (or to visualize material wealth) — but rather to accept what IS with gratitude and awe. In Needleman’s terms this is the true meaning of conscience, to maintain attention in both the outer and inner worlds—in deference to the struggle between them.
This level of consciousness may serve to reconcile the contradictions — but Life is to be trusted, certainly beyond the intellect and what Life offers is beyond the judgment of the human mind—and if one looks at the heavens at night—beyond its capacity to comprehend.
Needleman: “I would say that one needs money to live and survive in the outer world, to fulfill one’s obligations to the community and to nature, but that above and beyond this, the role of money is to serve as the instrument for getting understanding. We come to the bottom of civilization if instead of understanding we are going after ‘information.’ Information is the plastic version of understanding. Just as bank cards stand to gold, as easy and deadly credit stands to honest need, obligation and giving…”
Money and the Meaning of Life (excerpt)