THE DRAGON, HUMAN NATURE, AND NEW HOPE

The dragon – a mythological creature of chaos and destruction 

swirls all around us – but the Lord of All Creation is there too

dancing in the dragon’s jaws.

We want to rise above cruel nature – jaw-red/claw-red –

to find a Universal Compassion we name ‘God’

but Ego restrains both our lower and higher nature –

the Id and Superego Sigmund Freud tried to integrate.

.

Integrating soul and body, John Macquarrie,

a Scottish philosopher/Anglican theologian/priest

developed an anthropology of finite freedom:

we are free but not totally free –

therefore, humans are a perpetual problem to themselves –

our finitude: circumstances/genetic makeup/

socioeconomic status/past decisions/sinful tendencies

restrain our grandiose visions.

 

New hope about human nature came from

the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

when it declared a universal call to holiness –

a holiness no longer out of reach of ordinary humans –

all are called to be holy – even the simplest peasant

can be as holy as great saints like Anthony of Egypt.

 

More hope came from the renewal of ancient pilgrimages

like the Camino de Santiago – average citizens making

the hero-saint’s journey of separation/initiation/return:

on the Camino across northern Spain

you follow the Way of St. James – the Camino de San Tiago

you are separated from your ordinary life

supernatural forces are at play and recounted

around campfires lit by pilgrims/peregrinos

and a decisive victory is won if, after 800 kilometres, you reach

the Cathedral of Santiago with its swinging botafumero

a giant censor fuming incense swung to the rafters by six men.

Then you return to your former life

with boons – new life insights – to offer others.

 

The greatest hope always comes from our Ever-Forgiving God:

“These people do not trust me even though

I want nothing but their sanctification – their holiness –

and I bear with them in great patience

because I loved them without them ever loving me.”

– God speaking to Catherine of Sienna

INTEGRATING THE GLOBAL SHADOW

By separating the contemplative/unitive thinkers

into monastic communities, Institutional Churches

were able to continue in their rationalistic/dualistic/modus operandi

and the status quo was preserved – no transformation necessary.

However now inter-spirituality is spreading –

world religions are sharing experiences of unity consciousness

an inevitable part of the world’s move

towards multiculturalism/globalization/the theosphere:

God as All in All.

Even political action can be spiritual:

elevating humans as daughters/sons of God

liberating them from the old gods of lust/greed/power/war –

the gods which toxic masculinity worships.

Toxic masculinity/patriarchy continues because:

homophobia prevents deep male-to-male relationships

men confuse spirituality with religion and flee from it

bar mitzvahs and confirmation are inadequate

rites of passage/initiation rites for males in the postmodern world.

The male unconscious is not concerned with moral injunctions

but does try to balance whatever is happening

in the conscious male, and soften his toxic masculinity:

a man who defines himself as a righteous male

dreams about a degenerate woman –

the unconscious is not telling him to avoid this type of woman –

it is telling him he is this woman – he and her are one.

If he owns his shadow, it softens his heart.

In the past, those promoting morals and ethics

were unaware of the power of the male shadow

and alienated it further by labeling it “evil.”

But in the new quantum/unitive theology

what morality consists in

is full integration of the shadow

all the way from the personal to the global –

the global shadow, not admitting

humanity’s brokenness yet oneness

results in war and climate change.

War will never cease, God’s good Earth will never turn green

till the Global Shadow/Patriarchy is owned.

THE KEYS TO THE UNIVERSE

 Nonbeing was used as a concept

by Plato to contrast suffering/existence with pure essence

by Plotinus to describe the loss of the self/soul

by Augustine as an ontological interpretation of sin.

 

It is inevitable that we fall into nonbeing/sin –

the tension between our freedom and our finitude

creates anxiety as we confront

our great responsibility to fulfill our potential

and our limited ability to do so.

 

Our thoughts carry us away like the wind

but if we let them dissipate like mist

we end up in the Present Moment

where there is primordial richness and wisdom.

We need to always return to the Present – the Gift.

 

We also need Community – no matter how flawed.

If the Sangha is having trouble

you first need to transform yourself

into a candle which lights the other candles.

But any Sangha, any Community

Is better than no Community –

Evil/Ego wants to separate and divide us.

 

In the Body/Ego stage I focus only on

my own physical body and its survival.

In the Mind/Us stage I can put myself in others’ shoes

so I focus on relationships.

In the Spirit/All of Us stage I become aware

not only of all our differences

but also our common values –

the common good of all sentient beings.

 

Love at all stages: self/others/all creatures

is the Universal Key – God has given humans

the Keys to the Universe

and “Each of you will be rewarded

according to the measure of your love

not according to the amount of work or time it took.”

– God speaking to Catherine of Siena

SCIENCE AND THE TRUE SELF

The rise of science in the Renaissance and Enlightenment

freed people from religious authority. Science replaced God –

there was no need for the “God hypothesis”

to explain how things worked.

 

Today, theology and our everyday minds

continue to be challenged by a universe

in which every second millions of tons of matter

convert to light-energy, black holes

empty space bristles with dark matter and dark energy

about which we know nothing.

 

Meanwhile, Christianity back then and today

held that its Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ

is the focal point/key/goal of all human history

and even the history of the universe.

 

In early Christianity, mystical experience

was at the center of all theology –

prayer/theology/catechesis were all one.

But today people want spiritual experience

divorced from religion seen as dogma

because Christianity, challenged by science

focused on doctrine not on experience.

 

Unfortunately, Christianity throughout its history

has been far more interested in the Moral Self

as the measure of everything, and so has lost

the Absolute Measure of the True Self.

The False Self, the Ego, is happy

that believers in God usually deny

we all are already God’s beloved children

which gives the Ego nothing to strive for

and feel superior about

and so, even though God calls all of us

our Egos allow very few to be chosen.

 

A focus on the Moral Self means that

abnormal guilt has become a normal part of life –

fear of what others think drives us

we always want to be seen as pure – the good girl/boy

which is appropriate for childhood

but adults need to integrate their Shadow and stand against

their internalized shoulds/should nots as the voice of God

otherwise the True Self has no voice in our scientific age.

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.

HEARTS ON FIRE

If you want to be a real help to your temple/church/

Buddhist sangha first light the fire

of love/tolerance/understanding in yourself

so you can inspire others to do the same.

Otherwise, no matter how beautiful the edifice

it will be a false temple/church/sangha.

 

If you are not on fire for God

it is because your image of God is old school –

God is transcendent/detached from human life.

The theory of evolution forces us

into a new image of God as immanent –

God arises from within everything.

 

Teilhard/Merton/Panikkar/Griffiths

all call for inner renewal as the key to living Christ

in the 21st century. These four deceased

but alive mystics can be our guides

for living in an evolutionary world.

 

Religion is falsely thought of as contentment –

an idealistic escape from the stresses of harsh reality.

However, religious discontent is synonymous

with spiritual renewal – discontent that the world

is not like God’s dream

of peace and justice for all.

Prophetic religion is not about certainty and security.

 

Earthly attachments to comfort/porn/money

control the soul/end the spirit’s freedom/

cut us off from God.

As we value and pursue foolish things,

foolish fears, like losing our comfort, result.

 

“Conversion” according to Bernard Lonergan

is the experience by which one becomes

an “authentic human being.”

And Lonergan affirmed conversion as holistic:

it involves the whole person in all our dimensions:

intellectual – loving God with our mind

ethical – loving God with our body

and religious – loving God with our heart on fire.

BECOMING A “CHRISTIC BEING”

Scripture confirms our personal experience of life:

that our private thoughts tend towards

anger/jealousy/disharmony

with God/others/self.

 

As humans we are a mixture

of good/evil/darkness/light

capable of the greatest good of any saint

and the worst evil of any sinner.

Integrating the shadow is essential to spiritual growth

and involves a lifetime of work.

 

We experience transcendence of shadow

in our conscience which moves us

beyond our self and its limitations

towards our authentic self and its high ideals.

 

Spiritual intuition is the foundation of the moral life:

as I intuit Spirit in myself, I intuit it in others

and want to manifest Spirit in the world

as I, We, and even It – the creations of our hands

are full of Spirit.

 

Four great guides: Teilhard/Panikkar/Merton/Griffiths

agree that Christology involves

not just reflecting on Christ, but “doing Christ”

that is, allowing the mystery of Christ

to transform our lives.

The further evolution of Planet Earth

depends on everyone becoming a “Christic being.”

 

But we always have a choice:

if we accept God’s call

our life on Earth will be blessed.

But if we refuse God’s call

and choose our secure, egocentric lives over God

God becomes our enemy

and human life on the planet is doomed.

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?”