TRANSFORMING GLOBALIZATION AND THE UNIVERSE

The Interspiritual Age believes the spreading

of world religions as an offshoot of globalization

will create a global spirituality.

 

People need to remember how

the ancient religions of the East

thru the deepest longings/joys/sorrows of civilizations

strengthened and expressed the nobility of humans

how their temples have been home to

contemplation and prayer

how they shaped Eastern history and culture

and have been doorways to God

thru the Universal Christ –

the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

 

All people become contemplative

whenever God discovers God thru them.

Contemplation is God contemplating God thru us.

 

When people of any religion abandon themselves to God

God takes away everything they have

and returns it to them in a new form –

God takes away all natural objects

and returns them all as supernatural gifts.

 

In a previous generation ‘supernatural’

was a banned word in theology

but Baron Friedrich von Hugel recovered it

because humans need both the Transcendent Wholly Other

as well as the Immanent Wholly Here and Now –

but monism and pantheism both leave one or the other out.

 

The Universal Christ as exemplar/model of the universe

teaches us two things about created reality:

Divine Love is integrated into the Creation

and the destiny of the universe is not destruction

but resurrection/transformation/glorification

in God.

 

 

 

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

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

EVERYDAY MYSTICS AND MARTYRS

Internal morality expands from

biocentric (my only concern is my bodily needs)

to egocentric (my only concern is my ego)

to sociocentric (my only concern is my group)

to worldcentric (my only concern is all humans)

to World Soul (my only concern is all sentient beings).

Circles of love expand too

from self-love to loving others

to being aware of God’s Love

to loving God.

“Being loved by God and loving God

can only be experienced on the basis

of self-acceptance” – Otto Rank

You first have to accept yourself

with all your flaws

before you can accept that God accepts you

with all your flaws.

By this spirituality of imperfection

and by applying what the mystics know

to your everyday mind and heart

you may discover your ordinary life

can be a ‘way of the mystic’ –

it’s all a matter of perception with the eyes

and integration of the heart.

The ways of one ordinary monk

became the ‘Rule of St. Benedict’

which governed the life of all monasteries

from 516 AD till now.

The Rule is based on Christian non-dualism:

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.

No one claimed their possessions were their own

but they shared everything and there were

no needy persons among them.” – Acts 4:32-34

Communal sharing of all things

gradually waned in Christianity

but the ideal was kept alive

in convents/monasteries/religious orders.

In organized religion, the leaders

whether priests/ministers/imams/rabbis

tend to be dualistic, either/or thinkers

because to lead they need

clarity – if someone blows a muted trumpet

no one responds – religious leaders need

clear authority – which black and white thinking

easily lends itself to – you are with us

or against us – in or out.

In any case, any ‘no’ must be preceded by ‘yes.’

The ‘no’ of the biblical prophets

to militarism/animal sacrifice/self-serving priests

came from a previous foundational ‘yes’

to God/life/the Beloved Community.

However, the rituals of organized religion

can be life-giving – the Tea Ceremony

in Zen Buddhism like the Eucharist

is about oneness – no longer any class distinction

between noble and commoner – all are one.

The goal of Zen – not that Zen has goals

is the knowledge and perfection of Original Being.

The Original Being of a woman

is to be a mother – an unconditional lover.

In women’s initiation from girlhood to womanhood

that is, childbirth

women become more independent

a person in themselves

and someone more important in the eyes of society

that is, a mother.

Men’s initiation makes them more dependent –

they lose their independence from women –

they realize their true purpose

is self-sacrifice for women and children

to keep humanity going – the most noble calling

along with motherhood.

On a higher level both women and men

sacrifice themselves for God.

The Jews were always incredibly brave

many were martyred for God’s Law –

the Zealots submitted to torture

rather than call Caesar ‘Lord’

on top of Masada Mountain

both women and men committed mass suicide

rather than submit to the pagan Romans –

they became everyday martyrs.