LIBERATION THROUGH MINDFULNESS

All ‘holons’ (living systems)

have four fundamental capacities:

self-preservation/self-adaptation/

self-transcendence/and self-dissolution.

The 100 billion people who have come and gone

have always been caught up in ‘I’/‘We’/and ’It’ –

and they have always created ‘Its’ –

institutions/governments/religions

to control them and tell them what to do.

 

Persons with an insecure

or particularly avoidant ‘attachment style’

are much more prone to dramatic religious conversion –

out of a deep need for security

they follow religious authorities without question

and become fundamentalists in every religion.

 

However, when people go to retreat centers

often the monks teach them mindfulness

and that everything can be done mindfully

whether praying/walking/eating/working.

This new level of consciousness

liberates those with a fundamentalist bent.

 

Still, shadow projections can prevail

in every human conflict. The need to be

right/get your way/dominate/control others

can cause the breakup of relationships –

friendships/marriages/families.

 

But children and parents at least

help each other by standing together

through hardships at every stage:

infancy to old age –

through every manner of challenge

until death parts them

but even then, wise spouses

bravely accept and esteem widowhood

as a continuation of their marital vocation –

even death can be overcome with mindfulness.

 

GENERAL AND SPECIAL REVELATION

Sir Isaac Newton thought the universe

was just dead matter. Now we know

it is like the Aurora Borealis –

alive/dancing/dying/resurrecting –

 a new star is born every 15 seconds!

 

Albert Einstein believed in general and special relativity.

In religious terms the unfolding process

of the evolution of the cosmos is general revelation –

things are heading towards absolute love and consciousness –

towards God and God’s kindom –

whereas formal/major/world religions

are simply parts of this general revelation –

they are special revelations.

 

But the heart of Christian mysticism

is transcultural and perennial – it covers all the bases

and goes beyond individual religions

and tries to unite them – the marriage

of eastern and western religion may be stormy

but it will be consummated and bear much fruit.

 

Teilhard saw that Christianity in its roots in Judaism

is a profoundly this-worldly religion

and sought to explain even the secular

as the divine milieu.

 

On the other hand, Johannes Metz

another Christian theologian believed that

secular individualism contains inherent contradictions –

we are more than cogs in societal wheels –

so he proposed a political Christianity

that draws upon “the dangerous memory of Jesus”

to bring about social transformation.

 

The meaning of Christ is summed up

in the Creation’s potential for self-transcending love.

God created the universe without a perfect form

which it cries out for and finds in Christ –

Christ is not an intrusion into the world

but rather its Reason for Being

and the Goal of Creation.

 

MALE SPIRITUALITY

 

One of the best-kept secrets of our time:

although many men don’t care

a whit/a hoot/or a fig about spirituality

many other men deeply value their spiritual side.

 

By himself a man is not capable of success

when it comes to battling the assaults of evil

and so, many men today feel

they are in chains/powerless.

 

The need for boys to have heroes who slay dragons

symbolizes the male struggle

to gain consciousness and adulthood

rather than lapsing back into the bliss of unconsciousness

and being dominated forever by the mother.

Males must break with their mothers

and identify with their (hopefully mature) fathers

or they become mummy-boys not men

they never grow into adulthood

whereas girls can identify with their mother forever –

there is no need for a radical break.

 

Part of boys becoming conscious and adults

is learning mindful speech –

a man’s talk can bring true love

or kill the souls of girlfriends and wives.

 

Boys also need to learn to live in the NOW

for the present moment is our perfect teacher

who is always with us. In meditation men learn

how to tap into their present experience as it is –

insightful or not/scary or not –

they learn to face reality with courage.

 

The famous preacher Jonathan Edwards wrote

“It is the Spirit/Sophia/Wisdom working in men

that makes them see the beauty in the present moment/

the unity of all things/

makes them tender-hearted toward others/

and gives them a well-ordered and disciplined life.”

 

DIVINE FEMININE/SACRED MASCULINE

 

Henri Nouwen was one-of-a-kind:

simple yet not simplistic/

deep in sentiment yet not sentimental/

self-revealing yet not exhibitionistic/

deeply personal yet universal/

sensitive to human weakness yet challenging.

 

Meister Eckhart was another great Christian expositor

who integrated heart/mind/feminine/masculine

and distinguished between ‘book learning’ and ‘life learning’ –

often an author’s life does not match their writing

but Eckhart walked his talk

and both his writing and his life

disclose God’s Truth to us.

 

Christians need to integrate their main value of love

particularly in marriage, a beautiful institution

that often gets overwhelmed

by ego/divorce/money/self-centeredness/lust/workaholism

and a culture that worships hedonism –

the pursuit of pleasure at all costs –

love without commitment or accountability –

calling it ‘free love’ or ‘polyamory.’

 

Everyone, but particularly married couples

need training in non-violence – a tactic of love

that seeks the salvation/redemption of one’s enemy/opponent

not their humiliation/defeat/destruction.

 

Everything, all personal relationships and cultural institutions

require a healthy balance of yin/yang/feminine/masculine –

after all, what good is a return to the Divine Feminine

if men refuse her because there is no return

to the Sacred Masculine?

 

But Henri Nouwen and Meister Eckhart are lamps

who can light our pathway to integration

and True Love – the marriage of the Feminine and Masculine.

COSMOS/THEOS/ANTHROPOS

 

Copernicus/Galileo/Newton opened the door

to the new cosmology – there is more to the universe

than Earth as its center, and gravity connects us

not only to Earth but to the stars. It is all one!

 

You can let the ki/chi/energy of the whole universe

flow thru your body

thru deep rhythmical abdominal breathing –

breath is central to all Asian forms of meditation

and in the mythology of some Asian religions

the universe was created

thru the intercourse of the gods.

Similarly, a Christian mystic in the fifth century

named Pseudo-Dionysius believed that

Creation is an outpouring of Divine Ecstasy –

the Big Bang is God’s Orgasm!

 

In the magical/mythical pre-rational religious stage

myths about God are taken literally

for example, God is an angry Old White Man

detached from humans and living far away in the sky.

In the post-rational (but not anti-rational) religious stage

God is Spirit – the unitive Ground of Being

a timeless Presence accessed by unity-consciousness.

These two religious stages were separated

by the renewal/new dawn of reason

in the so-called ‘Enlightenment.’

 

Christians need a new dawn too –

we must no longer stand with Saint Augustine

who separated grace from nature

causing our current environmental crisis

but with Saint Irenaeus who saw everything in this world

as good/a manifestation of God’s grace –

grace is in nature and therefore in human nature!

 

We cannot grow spiritually

if we separate our humanness from spirituality

and we cannot grow in humanness

if we separate out our spirituality –

good anthropology is foundational to good theology

and good theology is foundational to good cosmology.

 

 

 

EAST OF EDEN

The foundation and principle of Introduction to the Devout Life

by Saint Francis de Sales is:

God has drawn us out of nothing

solely out of God’s own goodness

not because of anything we have done.

 

But in the Garden Adam and Eve

rebelled against God’s seemingly oppressive dictum

“You shall not eat the forbidden fruit”

and were expelled from Paradise

which was necessary for deepening their spiritual growth

according to God’s plan.

 

Now we are all east of Eden

and struggle to live like Christ

which is God’s purifying action in us.

All negative experiences can be elements

of the ‘passive dark night’ of John of the Cross

if approached with faith/hope/love.

 

Things are broken

so we need compassion toward others

which starts with compassion toward our self –

being open to whatever you feel – positive or negative –

makes you open to whatever others feel.

Spirituality must be able to handle hard times

as well as easy ones

in order to be deep.

 

In fact, spirituality could impact every aspect of our lives –

when we approach our food with reverence and mindfulness

our daily bread becomes Holy Communion

the Last Supper and the First Supper

since this is the dawn

of a fresh spiritual approach to a basic necessity.

Spirituality could also include sexuality –

in musical legend Bruce Cockburn’s songs

sexuality has spiritual/sacramental meaning –

it is “spirits open to the thrust of grace”

a medium for God’s Divine Presence

even in, or particularly in, our sexual life

so God becomes our All in our all.

EVERGREENING LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

The ever-expanding consciousness of the Israelites:

God is transcendent – available to all –

not just their Hebrew tribe –

and God is personal

all came to a head in Jesus

and a new level of consciousness was born

and continued in the Church.

 

A still higher level of consciousness

came in the 20th century with the discovery

that the human person is not a random accident

but the arrow of evolution – the constant movement

towards greater consciousness/love/freedom/creativity.

 

And a still higher level of consciousness is emerging:

being Christian not only involves taking care of earthly life

it discloses the true meaning of life on Earth

going beyond humanization to divinization –

God divinizes us – we share in God’s divinity.

 

The insights that connect us to the Holy One

do not come from discursive thinking

but from radical awe and wonder

and our awareness of mystery and the ineffable –

this is where great things happen in and to the soul.

 

As Christians we come to truth not just thru our minds

but also thru our bodies when we begin to trust

our own experience/our own intuition/our own heart.

 

This is because the real religion of human beings

is spirituality – indeed we all secretly know this –

that the spirituality of mystics

is the origin of all the world’s religions.

 

And so the beat of Jewish consciousness goes on

and this ever-growing consciousness is ‘tikun olam’ –

the constantly evolving/never-ending/evergreening

‘healing of the world.’

 

FALSE PROPHETS, ATHEISTS, PEACE, AND WHOLENESS

 

Separation from the primal union with the mother,

the Garden of Eden, causes a lot of suffering, but is inevitable.

However, it is crucial to remember that there was

and there still is, a Garden.

 

The suffering of Jews/Blacks/Indigenous

has deepened them and elevated them

above the meaninglessness and triviality of the white man.

This is the secret spiritual heritage

of the United States of America and many other countries.

 

Between 1999 and 2009, the number of people

who identified as ‘religious only’ fell from 54% to 9%

and those who identified as ‘spiritual and religious’

grew from 6% to 48% – a ringing endorsement

of the value of spirituality.

 

Spiritual transformation normally results

in transformed relational virtues –

more honesty/compassion/forgiveness –

or it may mean you become a prophet.

Like any true reformer/prophet today

Jesus critiqued Judaism from inside Judaism

by Judaism’s own criteria and holy values.

 

Today, atheists who attack Christianity do so

based on Christian values, but they do not realize this

because western civilization has marinated in Christian values

for so long these values have become subconscious.

However, false prophets, unlike Jesus,

always attack from the outside – therefore

the Four Horsemen of the Atheist Apocalypse –

Dawkins/Dennett/Harris/Hitchens –

are false prophets – they have no real understanding

of the depths of the religion they attack.

 

In critiquing Judaism’s over-emphasis on Law/morality

Jesus helped us replace our one-sided emphasis on goodness –

we are good, you are evil –

with a healthier ethic of wholeness –

looking at both our own goodness and brokenness

and seeing both the goodness and brokenness in others.

When Christians do this – take the logjam out of their own eye –

they bring peace to the world.

 

 

LOOKING EAST AND BACK WEST

 

In The Mystic Heart Brother Teasdale pictured a tree

in which the branches are all the religions of the world.

The main branches: Judaism/Christianity/Islam/Buddhism/Hinduism

and the minor ones: Sufism/Shintoism/Confucianism/Bahaism.

and the come-and-gone ones: Greek and Roman gods and goddesses/

Inca/Mayan/Aztec religion.

 

It is possible to learn and grow from all these traditions:

from Buddhism, Anthony de Mello, a Catholic mystic

learned “the fantasy of attending your own funeral”

and “the fantasy of your own corpse.”

 

Many Christians would have become Buddhists

but the tendency of eastern religions

towards world-denial and over-spiritualization

are pitfalls that prevent Christians from embracing the east

and prevent eastern traditions

from discovering the riches of the Incarnation and the Cross.

 

The intrinsic connection between the mystery of Incarnation

and the mystery of Creation means that in Jesus Christ

we discover the divine clue

not only to the structure and meaning of humanity

but also the entire universe.

 

Karl Barth’s massive Church Dogmatics

thoroughly Trinitarian and Christocentric

reminded us not to lose sight

of the central doctrines of the faith

while attempting to live Christianity out in the world.

Our image of God is central to our understanding

of how God acts in the world

and central to our attempts to transform this world

rather than deny/withdraw from it.

 

The question for Catholics at the contemporary crossroads:

do we deny modern theology/cling to old notions of God/

revert to the static medieval worldview

or do we grasp the dynamic evolutionary universe

that constantly raises consciousness

toward integral wholeness:

the unity of God/self/others/the world?

 

THE ENERGY THAT UNITES ALL

Though humans are made of both body and soul

they are one

and through them the material world

reaches its crown

and raises its voice

to praise its Creator.

 

Therefore, the only gift God requires of us

is our being – with all its imperfections.

When we realize we are lovable

because God loves us

despite our weakness/sin/imperfection

it quickens our self-love.

 

For the great Anglican theologian John Macquarrie

even our limitations and death point to transcendence –

death gives structure and perspective to life

and raises the hope of immortal life.

 

Therefore, we should approach our earthly life

not as a problem to be solved

but as an adventure to be lived

with our mind and heart open to whatever arises

until Sister Death welcomes us into life forever

in the glorious presence of our Creator.

 

Spirituality is giving life one’s all.

Therefore, anyone who gives their all

to their family/work/country/justice/art

is a spiritual person – whether they acknowledge God or not.

 

For many men, all-out devotion to their work or their family

is their way of being good/spiritual/a saint –

maybe they are not workaholics

maybe they are addicted to love.

 

After all, deep erotic energy exists at the heart of the cosmos

and becomes manifest in human ministry/family life/marriage/sexuality –

the desire to love and be loved – the One Source of spirituality and sexuality –

this desire is the cosmic energy  

that unites God/humans/the universe.