GOD DRAWS US THROUGH PRAYER

 

The way to God that appeals today

is the way of the mystics

the way of love, not metaphysics.

 

Western theologians resisting Asian theology

marginalize themselves

from strong mystical currents

energizing Asia and the world –

many people turning East

to Hinduism/Buddhism/Taoism

for Enlightenment.

 

In Confucian philosophy

the Way of Man is in order

when in harmony with the Way of Heaven –

and out of order when not in harmony –

but humans never achieve total harmony.

The great Protestant theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr

castigated secular and Christian liberals

for not recognizing the power

of original/cultural sin to destroy

their utopian visions of human progress.

The best we can hope for, said Niebuhr

is proximate, not total, justice.

 

Good and evil are mixed

in everything – even the best we do –

permeating our very being

morally and spiritually

creating anxiety/guilt/shame

threatening loss of our destiny.

 

Being self-critical is a great threat

to those who rule by might and right –

it prevents destroying their ideological enemies.

Humorlessness is the real enemy –

the inability to not take oneself seriously.

Humorlessness is projected onto God –

most humans would never torture others

but some Christians proclaim God does –

this bad news counters the good news

causing agnosticism and atheism

among highly ethical people.

 

To sort this confusion:

“Use your single prayer-word to beat on

the cloud of darkness above you

and consign all distractions to

the cloud of forgetting below you.”

– The Cloud of Unknowing

 

“Prayer is not primarily saying words – it is a stance

of living in Presence

of being aware of Presence

of delighting in Presence.”

– Richard Rohr

 

God does not move since God is everywhere present –

the foolish think God is distant –

humans move closer to or further from God –

God always stands at our door

no matter our faults/shortcomings/sins

hoping we will let the Universal Christ in.

 

“We start the spiritual life thinking

we are pulling heaven toward us –

later we realize heaven is pulling us toward it –

and the brilliant diamond of our True self

is cut into multi-facets

by God not us.”

– Dionysius the Areopagite

 

It is this pulling that fully converts us.

For Bernard Lonergan full conversion involves

intellectual, moral and religious conversion –

intellectual conversion goes beyond the sensory universe

and sees as the mystics see.

 

Faith is a mystical resurrection –

a belief in and obedience to the Author of Life

who commands us:

“Choose Life!”

 

It is choosing life that leads us

not to utopia

but proximate justice.

Faith begins the journey

towards the full love and justice of God.

 

THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL

For Carl Jung, consciousness and archetypes

underlie all religion –

religious symbols are a response 

to power centers in the collective unconscious.

Jesus deserves the claim

of universal salvific significance

because he is the archetype

the paradigm, the living parable 

of humanity, of God’s love for us

the human face of God’s mysterious care.

And for Jesus, no amount of 

learning, authority, tradition, or sacredness

was immune to his challenges.

Even fundamental assumptions and values

like obedience to the Law

could be questioned and changed.

Catholic and Orthodox priests

made the Great Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

depend on membership and sacraments

and Protestant clergy made Spirit

depend on personal decisions.

Both tried to control

the Uncontrollable.

Transformation happens in ‘liminal space’

when we are in-between stages of 

life, relationships, faith

when we are not in control –

transformation does not happen in our comfort zone.

William Blake, Chuang Tzu, and Zen

knew that vision and imagination 

are necessary to counter

a world of rationality – 

both reason and imagination are needed 

for the marriage of heaven and hell.

According to Michel Foucault 

the 18th to 20th century scientific Enlightenment 

resulted in people becoming

“objects of information” 

rather than “subjects of communication”

that is, persons became “its” with no 

depth, intentionality, or personhood.

The spiritual void

in a culture of “its”

intensifies anxiety over 

death, guilt, and meaninglessness –

all “existential threats of non-being.”

Pleasure and pain are inevitable

components of bodily existence.

Happiness is not all pleasure and no pain

but the ability to handle pain

and, when necessary, delay pleasure 

preventing denial, blame, scapegoating and addiction.

All major religions

transform suffering into 

deep connection to salvation. 

Many great religious figures suffered

for others 

or ascetical purification.

But religion was never just

how to handle suffering –

along with lists of sins

there were lists of virtues.

Christians added three theological virtues:

faith, hope, and love

to Aristotle’s list

of four cardinal virtues

justice, temperance, fortitude, and prudence.

Seven cardinal virtues

counterbalanced seven cardinal sins.

And beyond positively practicing virtues

there is non-elitist “street spirituality:”

seeking out the stranger

the broken, the prisoner

were part and parcel of the biblical prophets

wisdom literature, and saints

down through the ages.

All this is the opposite

of treating persons as 

“its.”

SELF-KNOWLEDGE

Life’s central task

is consciously knowing

what we already unconsciously know

who we already are:

our True Self.

We already have 

everything we need

our only need

is self-discovery

not self-improvement.

THE TWO TREES IN EDEN

The two trees in Eden 

are metaphors for two minds:

dualistic and unitive.

The Tree of Knowledge 

splits everything into either/or

(God forbids us to eat from this Tree).

The Tree of Life

symbolizes unitive contemplation

and promises access to eternity.

Separation of things by the Church

into sacred (Church)

and secular (world)

meant the Church treated the world

with contemptus mundi.

The Church thought it had everything

to teach the world

and nothing

to learn from it.

Scripture and tradition 

not philosophy or science

are indeed the final norms

for revealing what is truly human.

The philosophy of non-being

in Heidegger, Sartre, Dostoevsky and Berdyaev

viewed religiously

simply speak 

to the transitoriness of all things

and to the power of the demonic

in souls and history.

But atheism 

is not religion’s worst enemy – 

indifference is.

In the New Age

there is passion

because God is only within/immanent.

But to conservative religion 

God is only without/transcendent.

First find the Inner Authority

of your True Self in God

then balance/integrate it 

with the Outer Authority

of Scripture and Tradition.

Balance/integrate God totally within

with God totally without

and voilà 

you have stable yet creative religion.

Totalitarian regimes 

dominate with Outer Authority

 and hate the passion of artists

who break people out of slavery

by waking them up 

to imperial ideology.

Totalitarians rule by power and money

but human reality is constituted

by meaning not matter.

Meaning not money 

is the foundational reality.

It is a spiritual universe.

John of the Cross

put it all together

as a mystic, theologian, and spiritual explorer

who discovered Treasure Island:

that in Christ are buried all treasures

of wisdom and meaning.

Mindfulness of Christ brings

joy, peace, and happiness.

In distress consciously breathe in 

the peace of Christ

and consciously breathe out

the healing of Christ.

Catherine of Siena heard Jesus say

“I want people to meditate

on the greatness of my mercy

before contemplating their shortcomings.

Self-knowledge of sin

must be tempered by and subordinated to

knowledge of God-alive-in-you.”

THE UNION OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

“Heaven and earth will pass away”

as separate states.

Teilhard helps people 

be in the world

to which they necessarily belong.

He overcame the Church’s contempt

for the world

when he said “Love is 

the fundamental engine

of evolution.”

The litmus test for true vision:

to see the world as a Temple

and your enemies as sacred and beloved.

In the naked now

the best way to intimacy with God

is immediate, unmediated living

in the present, which is a present, a gift.

Living in non-defended, nondual presence

connects you to Real Presence.

The Quantum Theologian’s question is not 

our love for God

but God’s Love for us.

How is it

that from total otherness

comes our ultimate meaning? 

Eastern religion emphasized

the search for spiritual guides,

enlightenment, the True Self.

But western religion buried for centuries

spiritual searching under dogma,

obedience, and no questioning.

All the answers to questions you never asked

are in the Catechism – just read it!

Still, there were rays of pure light:

Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue

offered a systematic process 

for knowing God 

within you 

beginning and ending 

with humility.

If by God’s grace you have

Inner and Outer Authority

like Catherine

you avoid being both 

rebel or conformist.

God and nirvana 

are living realities

beyond all concepts

so Buddhists never talk about nirvana

they merely practice

mindfulness in all things

and so get intimate 

with the Buddha.

This gives a new vision 

for western religion:

include experience/practice/community

not just believing/behaving/belonging.

Heidegger’s Being and Time

was too individualistic. There is no community

but Being-Itself constantly overcomes non-being 

within it

and unceasingly creates

new things:

In intimate communion with Christ

there is always a New Creation.

The Internet as a new creation

and a convergence of Teilhard’s noosphere

could be the servant of global communion

not the conveyor belt

of global fragmentation/anarchy.

What the world needs now is

Bonaventure’s vision 

that predated Teilhard:

a dynamic universe

oriented towards union

with God and human

that finds fulfilment

in Christ.

THE DIVINE FEMININE RISING

Jesus: God is nowhere

exclusively.

But religious power-leaders

maintain vested interest 

in (unconscious) dualism: 

We (superior) versus them (inferior)

“We have true religion, they don’t.

(Our pay depends on this).”

The Bible: do not fear.

But religious power-leaders 

invent code names for fear:

reasonableness, prudence

loyalty, obedience.

Reinhold Niebuhr: sin manifests in

power-pride

intellectual-pride

moral-pride

spiritual-pride:

“I am holier than thou.”

Curia: Church is hierarchical/juridical.

Second Vatican Council Fathers:

Church is historical, dynamic, biblical

vitally alive.

William Johnson: civilization is destroyed

by violence to the feminine:

endless war, rape, oppression of women

slaughter of the unborn 

of Mother Earth.

Friedrich Nietzsche: now the horizon of meaning

within which people lived and moved and had their being

now that God

is gone

masculine and feminine mythologies 

collide.

Authentic obedience: 

grows out of freedom, to hear

make a conscientious decision

and where appropriate, say “no.”

False obedience: 

knuckles under out of fear.

Authentic nuns lead the revolution

against curia.

David Bohm: a change is needed: 

the Divine Feminine needs to rise

because consciousness 

is more fundamental than matter

the unmanifest quantum memory network

builds matter around itself

from molecules to humans –

the unmanifest knits the universe together

like a child in the womb.

Diarmuid O’Murchu: change and decay 

surround us

but at the unmanifest quantum level

nothing is ever lost –

continuity in a transformed state

is the rule.

Uncentered people are easily hurt

their lives filled with

drama and tragedy.

Saints are hard to upset

because their unmanifest center is God

they have no need 

for protection.

Richard Rohr: We have no access

to who we really are

except in God.

John Chrysostom: Nothing

is equal to prayer, for prayer

makes the impossible 

possible.

Prayer makes sinners saints.

John XXIII: The Church is meant to be

the Mother of all people

spreading the fullness of Christian charity 

everywhere.

The Church is meant to be

the Divine Feminine Rising.

WAKE UP, WAKE UP TOGETHER

Lonergan: at end of 1600s a great revolution:

constant attacks by Enlightenment 

and Anglicans analyzing

existence 

balancing scripture, tradition, reason 

shifted Catholic method-in-theology

from questions to certainties

theological inquiry to dogmatic theology.

Outer spiritual authority says

“You are special”

Inner spiritual authority says

“Everyone is special”

another revolutionary shift 

from elitism to egalitarianism.

Too much outer authority

creates Authoritarian Institutions

which create religion’s greatest enemy:

indifference: 

loss of divine will-to-be-alive 

loss of heart

loss of passion

atrophying into loveless/hateless

existence.

Upon meeting, Buddhists 

bow and silently acknowledge 

each other as a Buddha-to-be

since all carry within 

seeds of awakening.

In Confucianism, filial piety 

must be practiced from

the Emperor/Empoweror

Son of Heaven

down thru princes, scholars to peasants

or disaster ensues.

Brueggemann: Christian imagination 

numbed, satiated, co-opted, paralyzed by fear

cannot do any serious work.

But depth psychology and existential analysis

separate anxiety, a group phenomenon

from fear, an individual phenomenon.

So, do not fear 

to follow Jesus

because of what others might think.

In fact, others don’t think

of you……………….at all.

Shed fear and become

one of the twin heroes of mythology

two basic sides of human nature:

the mild and acquiescent

the wild and rebellious

the Introvert who powerfully reflects 

the Extrovert who greatly accomplishes

but either way

be humble

not self-deprecating nor self-condemning

and either way

be contemplative

the secret of which is:

life in the Eternal Now

not-Emptiness

full-of-Godness.

Bonaventure: Incarnation is

the Center of Creation:

everything preceding and following 

descent of the Logos

finds its meaning in Christ.

The Universal Christ is 

the Eternal Now and Love Supreme

Love: Alpha and Omega of Life

Alpha: Big Bang to God-consciousness

showing Itself explicitly in Jesus the Christ

Omega: Love drawing the universe

forward thru Christ 

toward 

ever-greater-Unity-in-Love.

The universe’s salvation is

corporate/universal salvation

beyond any individual.

Wake up, wake up together!

DOGMA-KOANS

Catherine of Siena pondered 

two most important 

human states: being and non-being

and thought: God reveals God 

by revealing humans to humans

no one understood that

but she died at 33

Doctor of Church.

In Christ reside

all treasures and wisdom,

primary model of universe’s design

God’s plan: evolutionary unfolding of Cosmic Christ

Divine Love, the heart

of evolutionary universe

constantly giving birth.

Every human relationship a birth, a search

for love, love of self and God

the summum bonum, greatest good

Love the focal energy

giving meaning to all.

With Jesus Law is written 

on hearts not stone tablets 

outer authority: scripture and tradition 

balanced with Inner Authority: True Self.

Each stage: egocentric-ethnocentric-worldcentric 

involving greater care and compassion

hierarchy of love not power.

A Buddhist hierarchy: 

In first watch of night 

Buddha experienced previous incarnations

In second watch 

Buddha received divine eye of omniscient vision

In third watch 

Buddha understood Chain of Causation

At dawn 

Buddha reached perfect enlightenment.

Macquarrie versus Rahner: 

Buddha no “anonymous Christian”

Buddha teaches Christians

everything holy: 

frogs, poison ivy, enemies

so only one God, one truth 

one human and natural community.

Becoming a child

really hearing bird sing 

really seeing blue sky

makes real touch of Holy Spirit.

Splitting things 

spiritual/secular

led Church to “contemptus mundi”

world-contempt.

Church sinned against Truth 

when suppressed 

science as secular

science is search 

for God’s Truth.

Polarity-thinking misses much 

prayer-thinking takes in: 

ownership of my failings 

compassion for others’ failings.

Enneagram Five’s 

greatest gift and sin:

detachment

essence of Buddhism.

Relativists assume 

one interpretation of life 

good as any other.

If true

dogmas become dazzling mysteries

koans 

for pondering 

over and over.

Bruce Tallman

May 20, 2021

ONE COSMIC FAMILY

In Heidegger’s concept of “Being”

God is no concept

no transcendent Creator-God

but Activity in the World

Self-Giving Presence.

All mystics agree

no magical/mythical Being 

totally transcends the world

but Infinite Consciousness 

lives in the world

in community, in peoples’

joys and sorrows.

Augustine sees

the wicked try to flee 

God

who is everywhere –

God the One

who never abandons the wicked

in their sin and sorrow.

Infinite Consciousness

is Being

“I Am” in Church

Beloved Community

born of Spirit, born of humans

Sacrament of Divine Liberation.

Although the anti-Paul 

in Timothy I and II 

wrote women into silence 

in Church

St. Thecla, second century celibate-ascetic 

Church-Leader

was more popular than the Virgin. 

Black-and-White thinking

separating soul (good) from body (bad)

made men uncomfortable

with women’s bodies and sexuality

but feminist theologians see

Wisdom as Co-Creator 

working in female (and male) bodies

creating right relationships.

Womanist theologians see

God and God’s desires

in daily intimacy, daily communion

with God’s Beloved People

the Everlasting Rock of the spiritual life.

Christians and Buddhists

mindlessly practicing rituals 

find little joy 

because human meaning 

is evolution becoming aware of itself,

Infinite Consciousness 

becoming mindful.

Like Hindu and Taoist mystics

scientists now open their eyes

and see the universe for the first time

as a unified web.

Like a spider’s web 

shimmering in the sun after rain

God catches scientists 

in the web of life.

No longer pure observers

scientists now see everything

not as objects or idols

but as icons

of Infinite Consciousness

Brother Sun, Sister Moon 

and all things 

dancing in 

One Cosmic Family.

ETERNAL LOVE

Our True Self is Love.

Christ’s Sermon

the Magna Carta

of Love’s Reign:

where Love rains 

we are soaked

and the False Self washes away.

Early on 

women preached and prophesied Love

in Church!

And Augustine marinated in

Manichean theosophy

Italian scepticism

Neo-Platonic mysticism

until he discovered Love

and conversion.

But when Patriarchs

settled the Canon

of Scripture

and blew everyone away

including Gospels of

Thomas, Magdalene and Philip

the nonviolent Reign of Love 

in Jesus and Paul

subverted into Apocalypse

in Revelation – 

the rain of blood 

up to horses’ saddles.

Things devolved further

until Meister Eckhart

preached Love

to tormented and bewildered 

Peasants.

Following the Crucified 

brooks no romanticizing Love

always a hard workout

Salvation won non-violently

in fear and trembling.

Now salvation of humans

and salvation of nature

inextricably bind each other

and we know

matter flows

the reign of lava

evolving, self-transcending 

into higher and higher

consciousness

until God reaches down 

or emerges up 

into infused contemplation

called by Ignatius of Loyola

“consolation without previous cause” –

a gift we neither cause nor deserve

of God’s all-embracing

Presence.

In Pure Land Buddhism

monks invoke Buddha

till Enlightenment:

the Realization

Pure Land is in us.

But even internal Pure Lands 

flow impermanently

unlike the Rain of Love.

Eternal God:

not ever-lasting but 

ever-Present

“I Am”

NOW

without time.

As Wittgenstein wrote:

“Eternal life belongs 

to those who live in the 

Present.”

Eternal Life is NOW

life in permanent Love of

Presence.