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.’

 

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.

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.

 

 

LOVING OUR DIFFERENCES

The core challenge of spiritual maturity

is integrity and differentiation:

being rooted in your own spirituality

while respecting the different spirituality of others.

Accepting differences gets the ego out of the way

and points to self-transcendence – a dynamic force

operative in all human nature/experience/activity:

God’s Mercy frees us from our self.

But most religions play both sides:

throughout the Qur’an God is

All-Merciful/All-Compassionate/All-Loving

but also the Master of the Day of Doom.

God is the Only One to pray to and serve

the Only One to guide us to be blessed

and not subject to God’s Wrath.

But we cut our self off from God:

“Disobedience and thanklessness

are the source of all evil.”

– Saint Catherine of Sienna

Some think humans are saints

others think we are “totally depraved” (John Calvin)/

“piles of dung covered over by the snow of Christ” (Martin Luther).

However, churches also have the capability of creating unity –

bringing in the light of God unites human beings

by showing we are simultaneously

defective and dignified/broken and blessed.

But churches are also flawed/divided/broken –

the Church thought of itself as universal and united

during the first one thousand years

till the Great Schism in 1054

between Catholic and Orthodox –

when churches became obsessed

with being ‘right’ about what separates them.

Life always involves conflict

but “The journey of the mythological hero

is to move through a devastated landscape

and suffuse it with imperishable love” (Joseph Campbell).

It always gets back to:

love/love of those who are different/

love of our enemies

the teachings of Jesus.

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.

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.

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.

SOUL’S PURPOSE: BEING/MEANING/PROPHECY

Anxiety about meaninglessness

comes from the loss of an ultimate concern

a spiritual center, an answer to the question

of the meaning of existence, a meaning

which gives meaning to all meanings.

The purpose of the soul is pure being

not doing this specific thing or that.

The soul is thus a master of

non-addiction/non-grasping/non-clinging

to anything – pure non-attachment.

The goal of the spiritual life

is not to get rid of shadow

but to include and integrate it.

Without shadow, we would be flat and dull –

shadow gives us personality/depth/substance.

Our supposed inner adversary – our shadow

which we want to destroy – is our friend

when it points out our errors to us.

If the soul stops feeding

on the pleasure of the senses

it enters a “dark night of the senses”

that eventually leads to a “dark night of the soul”

that depends on faith alone.

These dark nights of sense and soul are voids

that paradoxically give light.

Religious faith is forever a struggle

between darkness and light/good and evil

pastoral and prophetic.

Institutions are always pastoral –

baptizing shared values/giving comfort and stability/

resisting change.

But prophets agitate for change

to get people out of their comfortable pews

thus institutions forever resist prophets.

Poets/artists/mystics/prophets

are often lonely creative individuals

because they do not fit in a competitive society

that spends all its energy on ephemerals.

They need powerful married love leading to Divine Love

which sheds shadow by its shining light.