PEACE/VIOLENCE/MERCY

Prayer is not about changing God’s mind about us

it is about changing our minds so that

infinite mystery and forgiveness can abound in us.

 

The Christian journey travels through the self

to find the treasure hidden in the field within –

you sell everything to get this treasure

the queendom/kingdom/kindom within –

material things mean nothing by comparison.

 

God is already within us

we don’t need to attain God’s Presence

we are already in it – the only task

is to wake from our massive cultural trance –

Jesus and Buddha constantly urged their followers to

“WAKE UP!”

 

But we have both good and evil within us

God and the devil always whisper in our ears

exhorting us to peace or violence.

Gandhi’s whole doctrine of non-violence

summed up: “The way of peace is the way of Truth,

the way of violence is the way of Lies.”

Truth sees that violence is never necessary

but the Father of Lies, the Bad Wolf, also lurks within

and so we easily fall into violence.

 

But the Lord shines thru goodness and truth all around us:

“One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall

the next day you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all.”

– Bruce Cockburn

 

Taoism as much as Buddhism and Christianity

teaches the way of peace. Violence comes from fear

but Lao Tzu says “Because I am merciful, I can be brave

for Heaven protects the merciful”

and the Universal Christ says “Blessed are the merciful”

and thru the Apostle John: “Perfect love casts out fear.”

 

Jesus is the Perfect Lover and “Our True Mother –

Jesus carries us within him as he carries his cross

gives birth to us thru the birth-pangs of crucifixion

and then suckles us at his breast with the Eucharist.”

– Julian of Norwich

THE DAWNING INTERSPIRITUAL AGE

Doing theology has become a lot more challenging

because we live in a universe 13.7 billion years old –

science stretches us in mind-boggling ways.

 

But we are discovering the new/old Universal Christ:

Bonaventure’s integral relationship

between Creation and Incarnation

is a key to Cosmic Christology

in an evolving universe.

 

Thru Duns Scotus Teilhard discovered

the primacy of Christ when he realized

Christ is not patterned on Creation

but rather Creation is patterned on Christ –

the Universal Christ provides the blueprint

of the universe.

 

This is why the InterSpiritual Age that is dawning

depends on whether people can make

their theological/doctrinal issues secondary

to the love/service/ethics

underpinning all religions.

 

In Asia and across the world

people want the mysticism of Christ

not Greco-Roman-European theology

with its rationalism and legalism

that supports the institutional Church.

 

Scholars now compare Meister Eckhart to Buddhism

because he integrates the eternal and temporal:

mystical life should impact everyday life –

one’s morals/values/lifestyle.

 

We are starting to realize that despite

the immensity of the universe

the Universal Christ

is not “somewhere out there”

but in the thick of every religion

and in the thick of everyone’s daily life –

the Universal Christ is the blueprint of your life.

 

PARADOX/CHAOS/RIGHTS

God, not just human decision alone,

is the author of sacred institutions like marriage

and this is vastly important because

God endowed sacred institutions with benefits and a purpose

that are important for the eternal destiny of the family

and for the peace and unity of the whole society.

 

But every major religion is full of paradox:

salvation is a free gift of God and yet

worked out by our own effort in fear and trembling;

salvation is bright and glorious and yet

often arrived at through pain/chaos/martyrdom.

 

All this paradox and chaos results in meaninglessness:

difficulty in making sense of life.

Meaninglessness is the absolute threat

to our spiritual self-affirmation

just as emptiness is the relative threat.

Meaninglessness is the background to emptiness

just as death is the background

to the vicissitudes of life.

 

More paradox and chaos:

Christians finding excuses for creating death.

Pope Urban II put severe restrictions on war:

only if absolutely necessary

and only in defence of Christianity.

But then this pope decided a Crusade

would unify Christianity/bring peace/end all war.

 

Perhaps today we are more enlightened?
We recognize everyone and everything

has “ground value” – all things

are works or children of the Creator.

In other words: everything and everyone

has “intrinsic value” and therefore rights –

animals have rights and all of nature has rights.

Nothing has merely “instrumental value” –

nothing is merely a means to an end.

 

In the past the end was the wealth and pleasure of the rich

with no respect for God or sacred institutions

and no respect for the common good or Creation’s rights.

COPING WITH UNCERTAINTY

The medieval view: Earth is stable/central/unmoving

and God created the whole Creation

to reflect God’s beauty/wisdom/goodness.

Thru the Creation we can know God:

Creation mirrors Creator.

When the Enlightenment questioned this stability

Christianity became oppositional and rational.

Christianity became rational to oppose rationalism

and in the process lost contemplation and wisdom

the vehicles of authentic enlightenment.

 Western theology split itself off

from prayer and spirituality

whereas Eastern Orthodoxy was always mystical

involving constant prayer/contemplation/sacred icons.

Meister Eckhart bridged west and east

and was consistently misunderstood

because of “ascetic theology” – rational theologians

who could not grasp Eckhart’s love

of nature/the body/music/art

as well as compassion/contemplation/justice.

 In Eckhart’s mind, the purpose of prayer and religion

is to pierce thru to the foundation of Reality

which is always goodness and love.

Therefore, the soul is never satisfied

with surface level/marketplace/buying/selling.

Life is always complex/ambiguous/mysterious

and so Thomas Merton thought a lot of people

followed him because he was not so sure of himself

did not claim to have all the answers

but tried over and over to identify the right questions.

We are all called to be spiritual warriors

and the central question of a warrior’s training

is not “How do I avoid uncertainty and fear?”

but “How do live with discomfort and difficulty

in an unpredictable/unstable/ever-evolving/

non-medieval world?”

LOVE CONQUERS ANXIETY

There are three main sources of anxiety:

death/meaninglessness/condemnation.

These anxieties do not belong to abnormal psychology/neurosis

because they are existential anxieties –

they belong to existence itself –

a product of being alive as a finite, mortal being.

 

Christ knew our anxiety, knows our anxiety now.

The Christian imagination has pictured Christ as a Cosmic Joker

for centuries, but thinking of the Joker as

“dancing in the jaws of the dragon”

opens up new meanings of the Cross and discipleship

in a culture of chaos/war/climate change.

 

We live in chaos, but we are not bereft of dreams –

the Second Vatican Council proclaimed the highest destiny

of humanity is the “sisterhood/brotherhood of all people”

and offered the power of the Church as a champion of this.

 

Catholicism’s positive view of human nature/

liturgical symbolism/philosophical theology/appreciation of mysticism

has attracted many outstanding converts

from Protestantism/atheism/paganism.

But Thomas Merton took the Church Triumphant

with a grain of salt – he caricatured the popular conception

of saints, which puts holiness for the average person

beyond possibility: “saints are always impeccable/

never tempted/will throw themselves into fire

to avoid even the remotest occasion of sin.”

 

It is easy for Christians to forget the heart of Christianity

is that we love one another

and “everyone who loves is born of God.” Everyone.

 

If Christians do not practice love within Christianity

that is, between churches, there is no way

dialogue with non-Christian religions will happen

and without peace between the world’s religions

the sisterhood/brotherhood of all is impossible

and anxiety will never end.

 

 

 

 

EINSTEIN, MARX, AND ‘I AM’

 Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in 1905

swept away Newton’s World

of absolute/empty/space and fixed time.

Space and time are now one continuum and

time is no longer seen as an absolute constant

flowing at the same rate everywhere.

 

Einstein resisted the idea that the universe

is constantly expanding, but this led

the Belgian priest/physicist George Lemaitre

to conclude that the universe must have a beginning

and in 1949 George Gamow proposed the Big Bang Theory

the best explanation so far.

 

The Marxist cult of constant expansion/progress

accused Christianity of leaving humans

divided/alienated/mournful.

But the solution continues to be Christian optimism:

God leads us to the Promised Land

we don’t get there by political revolution.

It is God’s kingdom not Karl Marx’s.

 

For Christians the main discipline is to let the horsepower

of our experiential union with God do the work

to keep the cart (us) behind the horse (God)

and not foolishly take on the harness our self.

 

Led by the Holy Spirit

well-developed individuals and civilizations

go thru archaic/magic/mythic stages

in infancy/childhood/adolescence

but 70% of believers remain stuck there.

Only religion, which contains these stages,

legitimizes/honors/respects people at these stages thus

only religion can lead them out of these stages

to higher consciousness.

 

When you surrender to God

God stops being an ‘object out there’

and becomes your own ‘I Am’.

And since you now know your self

thru/with/in Somebody Else who loves and guides you

your little ‘I Am’ becomes a great ‘We Are.’

 

TRUE VERSUS TOXIC MASCULINITY

 In the 11th century, killing someone in war

was a sin requiring a 40 day fast

whether you killed in offence or defence.

 

In the 21st century we have become mass killers

with no remorse. We are now going to kill

the planet we live on: sawing off the branch

we perch on. So much for “progress.”

 

The key issues for men today are shame and aggression

which relate to the key issue of our time:

human survival. The True Masculine integrates

heart and mind/word and deed/self and other

whereas competitive society operates mainly

out of the male ego-level. True men go beyond “me-first”

to the well-being of others.

 

Thomas Merton: “The truthful person

cannot long remain violent. And the violent person

cannot see the Truth: Violence comes from believing the Big Lie

that your enemy is violent and evil

whereas you are good and peace-loving.

This ironically justifies your violence against your enemy.

Far easier to find and destroy a scapegoat

than to look inside at your own violence and evil.”

Whatever is not accepted is projected onto others.

 

Mothers at their best can give boys

a primordial experience of oneness

so they know in their hearts they are the Beloved.

But this is unconscious union.

When we grow and start to compete/compare/judge things

divisions start as well.

What we need is authentic spirituality

that leads to conscious oneness with God and all things.

 

Yet we want to avoid discomfort/be safe/be healed

all at the same time. But we can never completely avoid uncertainty

which makes us afraid. True spiritual warriors accept that

we never know what will happen next.

Anchored in God they remain at peace –

one with God in the midst of external chaos/war.

 

 

INTEGRATING MATTER/SHADOW/LOVE

The Second Axial Period

(after the First: from 800 to 200 BCE)

developed from the Protestant Reformation to now

(the shift from religion to science)

and is gradually becoming global/communal/ecological/cosmic

and challenging religions to integrate

matter/spirit/secular energy/sacred energy

into one complete human energy.

Wilber’s Four Quadrants accomplish this by including

– self and consciousness (“I:” upper left quadrant)

– brain and neocortex (“It:” upper right)

– culture and worldview (“We:” lower left)

– social systems and environment (“Its:” lower right).

Wilber later concluded even this was incomplete

and the dark side of things needed to be included

so he added “shadow” –

shadow only seems bad because it contains

all the parts of me that society does not accept –

but shadow is in fact a treasure buried in a field

because it also paradoxically contains everything

that can make us whole/holy.

Therefore, if someone asks

“What kind of Christian are you?”

the most honest answer is “A bad one but

I am on a pilgrimage with God

as my guide and destination.”

One of the manifestations of shadow is loneliness

which is essential to human experience –

papered over with busyness/success/money

but never eliminated because

nothing earthly can satisfy the longing of the heart

not even married love because

loneliness is ultimately longing for God.

Authentic married love overcomes loneliness

if caught up into Divine Love

and governed and enriched

by Christ’s redeeming power.

Authentic joining of self/spouse/world/God

unites spirit/matter/secular/sacred.

BIRTHING HEAVEN AND EARTH

“From time immemorial

people have had ideas about a Supreme Being

and the Land of the Hereafter.

Only today do they think

they can do without such ideas.” – Carl Jung

“Sin is to believe the lie

that you are self-created/self-dependent/

self-sustained.” – Augustine

People are bound not free because they sacrifice

their personal integrity/spiritual liberty

for security/money/ambition/pleasure.

Global warming is a global warning

that this self-centeredness is not working –

people dying from flood/drought/fire

is the canary in the coalmine of human extinction.

According to legend, the Buddha’s father

provided his son with 40,000 dancing girls

and all pleasures that material/secular life can offer

but the gods disguised themselves

as an old/then sick/then dead man/

and as a happy monk

and so the Buddha-to-be retired from the world.

Mindfulness is the womb that produces the Buddha

so we are all potential Buddha-mothers.

If we take care through mindfulness

of the baby Buddha latent inside us

eventually Enlightenment will be born.

We all need to see today

in a more holistic/paradoxical/wise way

going beyond mere rational thought

to giving birth to God inside us

not as an external agent

and to Nature as sacred

not as a means to personal gain.

We all need unitive thinking to give birth

to a New Heaven/New Earth

within and without.

GETTING BEYOND FLATLAND

We must get beyond Flatland –

the loss of transcendence –

and build a civilization that integrates

consciousness/culture/nature

morals/art/science

personal values/collective wisdom/tech knowhow.

Science and technology on their own

are not accountable to anything

except their own ethic: expediency and efficiency.

If technology allows us to do something

we feel we must do it

even if we destroy whole civilizations

with chemical/biological/nuclear war.

Normal ethics do not apply

to these autonomous powers.

“Life is always a battleground between opposites:

birth/death, joy/pain, good/evil, science/religion.

If the opposites ceased, life would cease.”

– Carl Jung

If science alone rules, we are in deep trouble:

“Humanity should not be afraid of God,

we should be afraid of losing God.”

– Meister Eckhart

Every civilization is built on mythology

and the most common myth is the hero.

The mythic structure is always the same

whether ancient/medieval/modern

whether Far East/African/Incan:

miraculous birth/early displays  

of superhuman strength/then rise to power/

triumphant struggle with evil/

eventual fall due to pride or death.

Pope John Paul II noted also:

common mythic structures/elements/roots

in the many varieties of religion.

This pope was more on the side of

Vivekananda than Francis Xavier –

John Paul was a pope

who ironically transcended Christianity.