LEARNING TO TRULY SEE

Science sprang from the heart of the Christian west

not from Greek philosophy or eastern religion –

Judaism always maintained the world was orderly and rational

and patristic writers like Augustine

encouraged study of the natural world.

Since science started, many priests have made

significant scientific discoveries in biology/botany/cosmology.

 

This is because God is fundamentally relational in nature

and interacts with the Creation

as subject to subject

not subject to object.

 

Without God, humans remain a puzzle to themselves

particularly when life’s major events prompt self-questioning like

“Where did I come from?”/ “why am I here?”/ “where am I going?”

Only God can constitute a complete answer.

 

Bede Griffiths, a British priest and Benedictine monk

lived in ashrams he founded across South India

trying to bridge East and West

and integrate Hinduism and Christianity

thru prayer/dialogue/a shared life.

He was deeply influenced by Hindu ascetic practices

but never gave up on the centrality of Christ and the Church.

 

Any major or minor religion can be transformed

by the realization that ‘faith’

is about how we see not what we see

the religious process not the content is where Spirit abides –

so the fruits of the Spirit – joy/peace/love/wisdom

can be found in every sect/denomination/religion

worth its salt.

 

The blind may feel that if they could see

they would be in paradise.

But we who have good eyes are so used to the process of seeing

we take it for granted

and do not realize we are already in paradise –

we need to learn how to truly see.

FULL LIFE IN AN “AI” UNIVERSE

We are called to see God in all things

including our astounding science/tech innovations

and use them for the service of God

and everyone’s eternal happiness.

But since love is not part of the knowing process

of artificial intelligence/silicon chips/robots

technology takes over as our guide, not religion

and leads us into a posthuman world.

Edwin Hubble discovered the universe continually expands –

a major revolution in scientific understanding

of a former/fixed/static universe:

the universe will dissipate and end.

Expecting “The Universe” to do things for you –

“Ask the Universe to help you,” or as many say 

“Put your request out there and the Universe will grant it” 

is folly.

It is God who grants things. 

The reason for the Incarnation 

is the excess mercy and love of God.

Incarnation consummates the universe

and is willed by God entirely for itself

not as an afterthought

brought in to deal with sin. 

First of all, God wanted to show us 

how to be fully alive through Jesus the Incarnate Christ.

It is in our ordinary daily lives

where loving like Jesus

and bringing in transforming grace

happens in our relationships 

with spouses/children/friends/parents/coworkers.

When you enter fully into the Present

you alleviate confusion/suffering 

and touch the Prince of Peace and your own Buddhahood –

Buddhists practice Presence through conscious breathing.

Prayer is not primarily thinking and saying holy words –

it is a stance, a way of living continually in Presence

being aware of Presence, and enjoying Presence.

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.

LIFE IS A GOOD TEACHER

Life is a good teacher and a good friend

because it is always in transition

and therefore open-ended and non-aggressive.

The astronomer’s telescope, through Copernicus

pushed over God’s throne –

the stable center of planet Earth.

Religion was not ready for this shift

from Earth as Center of All

to the Universe as Center.

If each star in the Milky Way Galaxy was a grain of sand

you would need a colossal dump truck

to contain the two hundred billion stars.

Western religion has been challenged

by science and other world religions

particularly the power of Islam.

Certain themes run through the Qur’an

and create strong motives of desire and fear:

the power and glory of God/the terrors of the Fire/

the joys of Paradise.

In Buddhism and Christianity, the sutras and gospels

are not the living teachings of Buddha and Christ –

the living teaching can only be had

by living/practicing/acting upon what was taught –

then you do not just believe the teachings

you know them to be true.

Then living unlimited love/

meaningful human work/interreligious dialogue

help all things evolve to the fullness

of the Universal Christ

as the Lamb or the G.O.A.T. –

the Greatest Of All Time –

the Center of the Universe.

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.

THE INTER-SPIRITUAL GOLD STANDARD

Inter-spirituality – religions getting along

and learning from each other – is an ideal

like the ethical gold standards:

economic egalitarianism

abandonment of militant nationalism

nuclear disarmament

which are promoted by globalism

and multiculturalism.

Conservative spirituality needs to loosen up

its fixation on ethnocentric myth

and learn how the Spirit expresses itself

in worldcentric reason

and postconventional love.

The Church is both human

since it exists within time

and is subject to forces of history and culture

and it is also divine

because it resolutely presses towards

the final Kingdom/Queendom/Kindom of God.

“Christians must resolutely strive towards

justice in the real, ambiguous world

where grace and sin abound.”

– Reinhold Niebuhr

The idea of God/Christ/religion evolving

rests on the notion that humans evolve –

in fact, technology has become so pervasive

we have evolved into a new species –

techno-sapiens.

At the microlevel of subatomic particles

there is an unceasing flow of energy

too vast for our minds to comprehend.

The Universal Christ is this energy incarnate

in every church/religion/all humans/the universe –

the Universal Christ is the inter-spiritual

gold standard.

MYSTERY, MYSTICS, DARKNESS, LOVE

Meister Eckhart: the Divine Mind

is infinite and causeless.

The human mind is finite and caused

and therefore can never fully comprehend God.

Only God fully comprehends God.

Souls that want to grasp God

by intellect/vision/revelation alone

only partially succeed.

You must proceed

toward God by unknowing and in darkness.

God can only be known by love –

“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God”

(I John 4:7). This includes atheists who love

peace and justice (which are what God is made of).

God is also mystery, the Church is mystery

and the universe is mystery:

there is 95% more universe out there

than humans can see:

25% dark matter and 70% dark energy.

But darkness precedes light –

Thomas Merton: “We often forget

that Christian faith is a principle

of questioning and struggle

before it becomes a principle

of certitude and peace.”

Vatican II portrayed the Church

as continuing the work of the Good Shepherd

but also as composed of frail and sinful humans

and thus in constant need of purification/renewal.

Mystics constantly try to renew the Church

but they are rare as hen’s teeth.

Still, loneliness drives mystics to God

and then from experiencing God’s Love

they want to love everyone as God does.

Everyone, everyone, who loves

is born of God.

INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE CREATES HUMANITY

It is impossible to prove or disprove

the denial or assertion of religious beliefs.

Religious belief is a choice

but religious symbols and practices

have given people meaning and strength

to cope with troubles down through the ages:

“O God our help in ages past

our hope for years to come

our shelter from the stormy blast

and our eternal home.”

This hymn provides comfort

when humans are more and more de-centered:

in the universe by Copernicus

in life by evolutionary biology

in our inner core by the subconscious.

In Newtonian physics, physical reality

followed rigid causal pathways

but in Chaos Theory, physical reality

is flexible, open to change and new

spontaneously emerging properties.

Things are out of our control and in God’s control.

Spontaneous revival happened in Hinduism:

decline in the 1800s gave birth in the 1900s

to great spiritual teachers:

Aurobindo/Gandhi/Tagore/

Yogananda who claimed unity

with Buddha/Jesus/Mohammed 

and that all religions are one

since they all seek the same goal: God.

Inter-religiosity may be written off

as postmodern/New Age/goofiness

but the fact is that all of religion’s

key dimensions of

belief/behavior/belonging

are being dramatically transformed

by contact with other major world religions.

Vatican II called for recognition

that all humans are interconnected.

Interreligious dialogue creates

the Beloved Community, humanity.

RELIGION OVERCOMES SCIENTISM

The Integral Philosophy of Ken Wilber

overcomes problems that arise

when we dismiss inner or outer worlds.

Outwardly there is energy/matter/objects

inwardly there are feelings/desires/visions.

Both are necessary.

Conscience is the most secret core

and sanctuary of humans

where we are alone with God

and God’s voice echoes in our depths.

“The soul and the true self know

my life is not about me

but I am about life.” – Richard Rohr

We need to include not only God’s voice

but also our shadow’s voice. Integrating our shadow

makes us more fully human and alive.

True self-knowledge grounds and liberates us

and gives us confidence to be our self.

The truth sets us free.

The release of repressed creative energy

makes us less fearful and more enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm = “en theos” = in God.

The Second Vatican Council proclaimed

“be true to your self”

when it advocated primacy of conscience.

Fidelity to conscience unites Catholics

with all people of good will

whether other Christians/world religions/

agnostics/humanists/atheists –

all who are engaged in a search for truth

and solutions to Mother Earth’s problems.

Catholicism welcomes and appreciates

great Protestant and Anglican theologians

like John Macquarrie, a marvellous guide

to the deeper mysteries of human life

with creativity rooted in tradition

balanced theology creating dialogue

Christian anthropology affirming self-transcendence.

Macquarrie believed the living teachings of Jesus

must be practiced in community –

to be manifest the Trinity needs the Church

and the People of God need the Church

the mystical Body of Christ

to touch the Trinity and make it present.

But trying to reason your way to God

is ultimately impossible – God transcends reason

just as humans transcend ants.

But rationalists want to eliminate God altogether

in transcendence and tradition.

Since the mythic God died

and spiritual intelligence froze at its lowest level

the Enlightenment began with science

– and ended with “scientism” –

science as the answer to Ultimate Questions

of life/death/meaning – which are beyond

the ken/reach/pay grade of science.

Fortunately, as always, science progressed:

in Newton’s view, all things are machines

governed by deterministic laws.

But in quantum physics there are no

separate building blocks – everything is

an interconnected Sea of Possibilities.

Atoms are interconnected packets of energy

genetics interconnects all creatures

Internet interconnects the whole globe.

The Second Axial Person

is global/pluralistic/interconnected.

Through science we know

Extinction and Transformation

the evolutionary equivalent of

Crucifixion and Resurrection

are central features of

personal/cosmic/planetary evolution.

Scientism is giving way to interplay

of science and religion:

Buddhists preached “interbeing” forever

now quantum scientists and Buddhists

can talk to, and learn from, each other.

THE FOURTH GREAT AWAKENING

Christianity is in its Fourth Great Awakening:

dying in Europe and North America

but exploding in Africa/Latin America/Asia

the rebirth of worldwide Pentecostalism

evangelicalism/pilgrimages/the Emergent Church

Vatican II, interest in mysticism and Eastern religions,

rediscovering ancient ways of prayer and meditation.

“We are discovering God is everything good

in everything. God is not naught –

God is before naught, before nothingness.”

– Meister Eckhart

Life is inherently ordered toward the ultimate victory

of goodness, not the ultimate disaster

predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics:

everything gradually dissipating into nothingness.

Science predicts disaster, religion predicts

resurrection and heaven.

No intellectual could detect the problem

of the hyper-growth of rational science

and the downplay of the arts and morals

because intellectuals had left spirituality

and religion behind

because they believed it was all myth.

But myth became history

and lived among us as Jesus the Christ.

In any case, the problem

is not science and technology

but the religious values we project onto them –

we expect them to save us/immortalize us

but that is the job of religion.

“Religion” means “religio”

same root as “ligament” –

healthy religion joins things together again.

But if we are at war with ourselves

because of unhealthy religion

we will soon be at war with others.

Spiritual exercises, according to Ignatius of Loyola,

are any method that rids us 

of all our disordered affections

and opens our soul to God.

Because all humans have been damaged by sin

it is only by God’s grace that,

liberated from all our disorderly passions,

we can freely choose God and the good.

Humans’ life and spiritual affirmation

are inseparable because we are only human

to the extent we shape our world and our self

according to holy meanings and values –

“We don’t think our way into a new way of living,

we live our way into a new way of thinking.”

– Richard Rohr

On the other hand

within each person an awareness exists

that is vast/silent/restful/resourceful –

a ‘riverbed of mercy’

that does not rush to judgement

nor get caught up in narrow ‘right and wrong.’

To grow in Jesus the Christ

one must doubt and reject everything else.

But often this testing is too intolerable

and people flee into comfortable traditions/

outward gestures/conventions.

The Vedic message of Vivekananda in 1893

to the Parliament of World Religions:

“The divinization of the human person

is far more important than

doctrines/rituals/books/churches.”

This appealed to those weary of religions’

legalism/dogmatism/authoritarianism.

But organized religion that is healthy

promotes community not just divinized individuals.

Divinized communities, Beloved Communities

can do so much more than divinized individuals.

The Fourth Great Awakening

promises divinization of both individuals

and Beloved Communities.