LETTING GOD LOVE YOU

In the Paleolithic period when agriculture first developed

the fertility of the land was imaged

in the pregnant goddess statues

found all over Europe/the Middle East/India.

 

Modern science believes all religious claims

whether ancient/modern/literal/mystical

are a holdover from humanity’s childhood

like Santa Claus – science denies them all

as there is no empirical evidence for any of them.

 

However, religion is not focused on evidence

but on self-transformation – crossing the threshold

of any temple/church is meant to be self-annihilation

a reminder to let go of the small self/ego.

 

This is why entrances to the sacred are commonly guarded

by angels/saints/gargoyles/dragons/lions/bulls –

entering you undergo metamorphosis/

leave your secular/unholy self behind/

and discover the World’s Womb/Navel/Earthly Paradise.

 

The call to grandeur/union with God

and to the depths of misery/separation from God

are both integral parts of human experience

that only receive their ultimate explanation

in God’s revelation.

 

Christian love calls you to transcend your selfishness

to commit your self to the good of others

enabling them to realize their full potential.

 

But, contemporary society tells us that to love others

you must first love your self.

But true self-love involves loving your self

the way God loves you.

But none of us is capable of loving the way God loves –

you have to let God do it.

 

True self-love therefore involves letting God love you

the way only God can love you.

 

Then you can love your self and you can love others

the way God loves them.

CONTEMPLATION TRANSCENDS SCIENCE

The Pre-Axial Period was marked by mythology/fantasy.

The Axial Period was marked by reason/

the power of the individual/personality –

the “self” was born.

 

But the Present Age has conflicted feelings about reason

because: we now see its limits/

have felt its inhumane touch/

doubt its power to solve problems/

know its capacity to create problems.

 

What we need today is for scientific rationalists

with their focus on external knowing

to give assent to the internal knowing of mystics

as legitimate knowledge or at least information.

Instead of writing mystics off as their main opponent

deluded by superstition/myth/fantasy – scientists need to see:

people need meaning more than facts.

 

True nonviolence does not try to defeat its opponents

either physically/emotionally/intellectually/spiritually

rather it tries to find the good

already inherent in the opponent, which can be hard

if the opponent thinks the injustice they support is, in fact, just.

 

In western culture ‘meditation’ used to be equated with

‘rigorous thinking’ – which led to great achievements

in philosophy/theology and even science.

 

But in western culture Teresa of Avila was one of the few

who in medieval times taught the eastern way of no-thinking:

in contemplation you go beyond meditation –

you don’t think much, you love much.

 

In eastern thinking about no-thinking

the Tao: underlies the cosmos/

is the Absolute made manifest/

creates truth/nature/destiny/cosmic order

and Yin, the dark/passive/feminine principle

and Yang, the light/active/masculine principle

are inherent in all things – including each human being.

It is Yin and Yang – the Mother and Father aspects of God –

Wisdom (Sophia) and Yahweh – making endless Love

that creates the universe and all things.

TAKING THE HARD/EASY ROAD WITH CHRIST

Jesus was a layman with no formal training as a priest

he was at parties and in the streets

far more than at liturgy. Yet the early Church

created elaborate liturgies to worship a man

who never asked to be worshiped

only followed. Worship is easy, following is hard.

So, we took the easy road.

 

Circa 250 AD Christians took the road to the desert

to escape Decian persecution/corruption/decadence

of the Roman Empire. Like Moses/Elijah/Jesus

they were convinced that in the absolute silence of the desert

they could hear God speak again.

In the desert they learned for all time

that God is in the present moment, the NOW.

 

In our NOW, people in both individualist and collectivist societies

feel anxiety about death/non-being.

Capitalist/ego societies encourage individuals

to assert themselves against the threat of non-being

whereas communist/state societies allay anxiety

with massive military parades and rituals

signifying the collective will survive

individual non-being – being part of the collective

saves you from death.

 

But both the capitalist and communist credos

are heresy. In Jesus the Christ one evolves

from fragmentation and alienation

of the individual and the masses

to wholeness and integration

from nihilism and irony

to deep meaning and value

from scarcity to abundance

from self-centeredness to self-transcendence.

 

When capitalism and communism both fail to satisfy the soul

it humbly turns back to God and finds

“Your soul is who you are in God and who God is in you.

Nothing more, nothing less” – Richard Rohr

and taking the hard road is surprisingly easy in Christ

who said “Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy

and my burden is light” – Matthew 11:28-30

 

 

 

 

 

LIVING IN BABYLON

Major structural injustices in which we

live/move/have our being

create haves/have-nots

and are hugely immoral – but most religions

while preaching personal and interpersonal ethics

ignore systemic evil and most believers accept

massive injustice as “the way things are” never asking

“How can individuals be moral in an immoral culture?”

 

The typical response of Christians living in

our Babylonian culture, in exile, is:

try to be faithful husbands and wives

raise virtuous children who are

compassionate/contemplative/seek justice

and who kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.

 

Catholics adopt Protestant practices:

daily Bible reading/speaking in tongues

and Protestants adopt Catholic practices:

praying the Divine Office and trying out

Benedictine/Franciscan/Ignatian prayer styles

and perhaps this is the Holy Spirit

weaving the entire Church together

so we all may be one

or maybe this is just rearranging

the deck chairs on the Titanic

as long as the structural injustices persist.

 

Hopefully, the Contemplative Way

will save and transform us:

because sometimes contemplatives

as they are liberated from all addictions/attachments

gain psychic powers/siddhis such as

telepathy and clairvoyance – genuine contemplatives

always hide these super-powers

but maybe they could use them to fight injustice?

 

In any case, the ultimate secret of the spiritual life:

“ever-present divine awareness” is not hard to attain

for anyone and is impossible to avoid

according to Lao Tzu/Shankara/Paul/Augustine/

Plotinus/and Teresa of Avila because it is always there

and awareness of the divine is the only thing

that makes living in Babylon bearable.

OVERCOMING OUR SHADOW AND OUR SUFFERING

Theologians try to make Christianity relevant

by showing theology follows scientific methods

or correlating it to some current philosophy

or urgent need: racism, nuclear war, climate change

but the problem behind all problems

is dualistic non-unitive thinking in the form of individualism.

 

Individualism, the triumph of the individual

the foundation of American culture, is ironically false freedom:

separation from others and therefore separation from God

who in Jesus exhorted us to “love others as our self”

and “love our enemies.”

 

America is ironically “Land of the free and home of the slave”

according to the artist formerly known as “Prince.”

Ironically too, America will only overcome its shadow history

by embracing it: “Taking up your cross today

means owning your own shadow

which is the essence of ethics/

integrity/spirituality/religion.” – Carl Jung

First recognize the log in your own eye

before trying to take out the speck in your neighbour’s eye.

Otherwise, you project your shadow onto others

and force them to carry your darkness.

 

We can use everything that happens in us

and that happens to us, to wake up:

Buddhism exhorts us to resolve the dualistic struggle

by embracing difficulties (our crosses)

and by meditating day and night.

“Seek in reading and you will find in meditating;

knock in verbal prayer and it will be opened to you

in contemplation” – Guigo the Carthusian.

 

But contemplation is always beyond us:

beyond art/philosophy/theology

even beyond discussion or explanation –

the language of God

is silence.

 

But the language of the blind and deaf Helen Keller is

“Life is full of suffering

and it is also full of the overcoming of suffering.”

REDISCOVERING THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING

Starting with Copernicus and then Galileo,

heliocentrism – the Sun as the center of things

not the Earth – the new cosmology

totally upset the watermelon cart

displaced God’s immutability/hierarchy/

humans as the center of the universe/

our race as the center of God’s care/

the stable relationship between self/cosmos/God

was completely disrupted.

 

No wonder Alan Watts, who embraced eastern mysticism,

noted that modern culture is peculiar:

every other culture, East and West,

from 6000 years ago to the birth of modern science

believed in the Great Chain of Being.

 

However, we can rediscover this Great Chain

by recognizing our bodies, thru sexual intercourse

have been coming out of each other:

male out of female, female out of male

since day one – the whole human race is one –

one flesh/one body/one blood.

 

And now in addition we recognize

that it took the universe 13.7 billion years

to create YOU – from atoms/molecules/cells/

multicellular organisms/vertebrates/

your thousands of ancestors/to YOU –

YOU are 13.7 billion years old –

think about it – YOU are made of the dust of stars –

stardust – and God chose YOU

before the foundation of the universe.

 

Other scientists further disrupted all things –

besides Darwin, the new physics

changed our view of the cosmos

as dynamic and relational not static.

And new quantum laws incorporated chance

and indeterminism. But chance does not change

the cosmos into a lottery –

it is the way the universe explores

and realizes its potential:

the divinized human being –

YOU filled to the full with GOD.

REDEEMING TECHNOLOGY

If we are going to save humanity from technology

we need to emphasize the human need for

love/friendship/meaning/freedom.

This is where religion can be extremely valuable –

in humanizing technology.

 

On the positive side of technology,

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest

envisioned technology gathering human energy

deepening love/global consciousness

and an awareness of ‘interbeing’ –

we are all part of an interweaving body

of life/love/motion we call the Uni-verse –

the One Cosmic Poem.

 

The problem with our contemporary world

is dissociating art/morals/technology

from each other and from religion:

not only pre-rational mythic spirituality

was rightly rejected

but also rational postmodern spirituality –

postmodern/liberal/intellectual humans

were left to answer the deepest question

“What is of ultimate concern?”

with only art/morals/technology

allowed to give an answer –

progressive religion was excluded from the debate.

 

In spite of this we have made moral progress –

we now recognize systems of injustice

rather than individuals cause immoral behaviour –

we have lifted the burden of responsibility off each person

and placed it squarely on the shoulders of corrupt systems

the individual is inevitably enmeshed in.

 

In any case, Truth cannot impose itself on our hearts

except by virtue of it being true.

Religions therefore must be free to speak their truth

without trying to coerce civil society.

 

Healthy spirituality could be an anchor for civilization

preventing it from being swept away by the current –

the overwhelming flood of technology.

TRANSFORMING GLOBALIZATION AND THE UNIVERSE

The Interspiritual Age believes the spreading

of world religions as an offshoot of globalization

will create a global spirituality.

 

People need to remember how

the ancient religions of the East

thru the deepest longings/joys/sorrows of civilizations

strengthened and expressed the nobility of humans

how their temples have been home to

contemplation and prayer

how they shaped Eastern history and culture

and have been doorways to God

thru the Universal Christ –

the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

 

All people become contemplative

whenever God discovers God thru them.

Contemplation is God contemplating God thru us.

 

When people of any religion abandon themselves to God

God takes away everything they have

and returns it to them in a new form –

God takes away all natural objects

and returns them all as supernatural gifts.

 

In a previous generation ‘supernatural’

was a banned word in theology

but Baron Friedrich von Hugel recovered it

because humans need both the Transcendent Wholly Other

as well as the Immanent Wholly Here and Now –

but monism and pantheism both leave one or the other out.

 

The Universal Christ as exemplar/model of the universe

teaches us two things about created reality:

Divine Love is integrated into the Creation

and the destiny of the universe is not destruction

but resurrection/transformation/glorification

in God.

 

 

 

DIVESTING DOMINANT PARADIGMS

Gospel love means divesting oneself for God

of all that is not God – all earthly attachments –

particularly to the self, but even to the Church.

 

Conservative Christians believe the Church

is the Kingdom of God in the world.

Liberal Christians believe the Queendom/Kingdom of God

is to be built outside the Church in the World.

However, one needs humility and detachment to see

that both are transient. The Church and the World are not God.

If one arrogantly makes the Church or the World eternal

one ends in idolatry. Like everything, the Church and the World

had a beginning and so will have an end.

 

Theology is an attempt to integrate God/Church/World

without reducing one to the others.

When theologians stop asking questions

and start making dogmatic statements

the spiritual search ends.

 

Artists can break through the captivity

of our dominant paradigm – idolatry

by exposing the dysfunction/pain/terror

covered up and denied.

Then healing may begin.

 

A similar dominant paradigm is insularism –

self-protection, like idolatry, takes many forms:

individualism (me first)

tribalism (my family or tribe first)

nationalism (my country before other countries/the planet)

historicism (ignoring human history – 1000s of years

or the history of the universe – billions of years).

Insularism loves sexism/racism/ageism/ablism –

people with disabilities are often terribly lonely

and show us our own loneliness

and how we all have a deep need to break out of insularism

and find community/friends/love.

 

A Christian woman and man, who thru the marriage covenant

of conjugal love are one flesh, render mutual service

to one another through this intimate union

and show us how the Church and the World ought to be –

united in Christ and reaching out to help everyone.

THINKING OF OTHERS

The First Axial Period was about individual consciousness

whereas the Second Axial Period, which we have just entered

is about global consciousness.

 

Western philosophy reached its lowest point, its nadir

with Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.”

We know now that we are more than rationality

and thinking is the primary place we hide

from the humiliating collapse into naked ‘being.’

More accurate would be: “I think therefore I am not.”

 

We need both self/other/subjective/objective thinking:

First Person ‘I’ is about the Beauty of self-expression

Second Person ‘You’ is about Goodness in relation to others

Third Person ‘It’ is about objective Truth.

Beauty/Goodness/Truth – this is all we need.

 

Since all is a seamless whole

you can give up your isolation, be naked

and enter into union with all that is.

Thus, you go

from separation to oneness

from selfishness to love

from ego to God.

 

When things are delightful

think of others

and pray that delight for them.

When things are hard

think of others

in similar suffering

and let your heart feel compassion

as you pray for them.

 

And practice contemplative eating:

when you eat

contemplate the 40,000 children who die everyday

for lack of food

feel compassion

and think what you can do for them.