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.

 

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.’

 

THE TRANS-PERSONAL MESSIAH

 

For the past 500 years, the scientific lens

in which everything is rational and testable

has been robbing us of the wonder

of the former magical/mythical era.

We should have integrated science and religion long ago

since they are both foundational to our makeup

of both body and spirit.

 

Immanuel Kant was on the right track –

he refused to let religion be reduced

to objective scientific explanation

because he demonstrated subjectivity

cannot be reduced to objectivity

and he was an enlightened Lutheran who believed

what contemporary theologians believe –

we are in a dynamic/trans-personal relationship with God.

 

Quantum theology today focuses on

‘sin’ as ‘missing the mark’

which implies a dynamic process of seeking

and flexible/multiple ways of arriving at the ‘mark’

rather than rigid/dualistic/mechanistic notions of right/wrong.

 

Scientific research shows three broad arcs

to human psychological growth:

pre-personal/pre-rational/pre-conscious

to personal/rational/conscious

to trans-personal/trans-rational/trans-conscious.

 

Scripture is tran-spersonal in Second Deutero-Isaiah

where we first hear that Yahweh is not just God of the Jews

but of all people, and we first hear of the Messiah

not just as the ideal king of the Jews

but as the Universal Ruler over all people.

 

The only way Buddhists and Christians

can keep Buddha and Christ alive today

is for their followers to live their teachings –

Jesus needs Christians to thoroughly practice

his central teaching, the Beatitudes

for, as Teresa of Avila said:

“The only feet/eyes/hands

God has are our feet/hands/eyes” –

The trans-personal Christ is mediated to the world through us.

 

 

 

FINDING UNITY IN SPITE OF PLURALITY

In the inter-spirituality approach of Brother Teasdale

authentic enlightenment/awakening can be had

by deeply following any of the branches of the religious tree

of humanity’s search for the Godhead.

 

However, New Age/Alternative Spirituality’s rejection of dogma/

Joseph Campbell’s injunction to follow your bliss/

Krishnamurti’s radical openness to any spirituality

can lead naïve seekers into dabbling in the occult

and thus vulnerable to dark forces/false prophets.

A sense of the numinous can lead to deep calm/awe

or wild bacchanalian debauchery/dread.

 

Psychoanalysis/depth psychology was rejected

by many religious people because it disturbed

their ‘undisturbed conscience’ by showing them

the depths of their cruelty and hatred

that only the Cross of Christ can handle –

simplistic Christians were ironically afraid

of the depths of their own tradition

of deep Christianity.

 

Thomas Merton revealed western religion had lost

the deep wisdom/unitive tradition Jesus taught –

even in monasticism there are monks and nuns

dualistic in their thoughts/practices.

 

God created the universe with an end in mind:

a Christified cosmos.

Thus, despite the immensity of the universe

which could induce ‘cosmic terror’ in the naïve

the universe is a unity not an unrelated plurality

it is meaningful and purposeful

because it is grounded in the Cosmic Christ.

TRUE RELIGION

True religion involves basing our beliefs

on our own direct experience of reality

not on concepts someone else taught us –

after a while those concepts no longer work

and plunge us into darkness.

 

Religions steeped in creeds and doctrines alone

offer people a magic-mythic view of reality:

Abraham asked Allah to show him

how Allah raises from the dead.

Allah said “Slaughter four birds

place their pieces on the hills

in the four directions

then call them

and they will fly to you.”

 

The constant movement towards greater consciousness –

the history of evolution on Planet Earth

from matter to life to thought to spirit – continues

and leads believers beyond magic and myth/

and gives us a rational/spiritual explanation

for the development of the universe.

 

Ramon Panikkar, the Catholic/Hindu scholar

is a worthy guide to the New Axial Era

when he proclaims that our first task

is to discover the Cosmic Christ within us

then also in others

and then in Creation itself.

True religion is to be seized by the Love

at the heart of life/the heart of Creation

and to find ways to let that Love evolve

into a global wholeness – a wholeness

of unity/compassion/justice/peacemaking.

 

OPENING TO THE GOD WITHIN ALL

If the devout life is the same as true love of God

and the essence of the devout life is prayer

then the essence of the love of God is prayer.

 

Communion/connection with God or another person

involves the security and insecurity of trust

and a constant battle against all the forces

of fear and selfishness within us.

 

But to love is to be on the path of integral wholeness –

to see the ‘other’ not as ‘stranger’ but as ‘brother’

and ‘sister’ as part of one’s self, as belonging to another

and as part of a greater whole.

 

Objective theology may give you the right answers

but it doesn’t help you with prayer/union with God/

compassion for the lost. It excludes subjective experiences

like John of the Cross’s ‘Dark Night’

and Meister Eckhart’s inner freedom/energy/joy.

The result: if you only deal with Eckhart’s external writings

divorced from his inner spirituality

he can seem like a heretic.

 

There are three styles of religiosity:

‘intrinsic’ – religion as an end in itself;

‘extrinsic’ – religion as a means to an end/social justice

‘quest’ – religion as openness to change –

even to changing one’s religious beliefs/values.

 

Going from ethnocentric to worldcentric belief

means changing from a group-based identity –

this is my tribe –

to a person-based identity –

this is what I believe –

Jesus is still your and everyone’s personal Savior

no matter what you believe

but you realize the Holy Spirit speaks to people

in different faiths in different ways

and so others may find different paths to salvation.

 

Yes, the Universal Christ/God is the only way to God

but this is because the Universal Christ/God

is everywhere and depending upon one’s culture

takes many different forms.

LIVING CHRIST/LIVING BUDDHA

A cosmic Christology is the only adequate one.

If Christ is “first-born from the dead”

the resurrection is not only for humanity

but the whole Creation.

 

Christ’s resurrection renews the whole universe –

“in Christ all things are made new” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

including other world religions.

 

After all – to reverse engineer things –

Zoroastrian/Persian thought definitely influenced

the writers of the Book of Daniel

and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In the last century before Christ, the Essenes

who had roots in Zoroastrianism

expected a World Savior.

God the Holy Spirit influenced Zoroastrians and Essenes

even before Christ appeared.

 

For Plato/Plotinus/Meister Eckhart/Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spirit transcends/includes/gives rise to mind/body.

Similarly, in Buddhism, Spirit (Dharmakaya)

gives rise to mind (Sambogyakaya)

which gives rise to body/form/Nature (Mismanakaya).

 

We can therefore help the Living Christ and the Living Buddha

continue their compassionate work by realizing our body

is first of all a member of the Mystical Body of Christ

but also the body of Buddha.

Therefore, if you are Buddhist, you should love your body

as if it were the Buddha

and if you are Christian, you should love your body

as if it were Jesus the Christ

because Christ is living in you/over you/thru you/as you.

 

“The mystery of Christ within you

is your hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27).

 

“My deepest me is God!”

– Saint Catherine of Genoa

 

“I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.”

– Saint Paul in Galatians 2:20

 

ENLIGHTENMENT IN ALL WORLD RELIGIONS

“The enlightenment you seek in other religions

has been present in Christianity from the beginning.”

– Richard Rohr

 

The word “mystical” is often equated to “magical”

in secular/scientific contexts and so easily dismissed

but true mysticism – direct experience of God –

is the essence and starting point of all world religions.

And awe in the face of mystery

is the starting point of science.

Our God is an awesome God

who indwells everything – in the lab and in the temple.

 

Jesus lived as the spokesperson for Temple and Torah

the all-powerful symbols that the transcendent God

dwells within Israel and orders Israel’s life

the two most central and never-ending Jewish beliefs.

 

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) –

a meeting of 2500 Catholic bishops for four years –

the largest and longest meeting of Church leaders ever –

had only one goal – to carry forward the work

of the Jewish man/God, Jesus the Christ

who came to rescue not judge

to give witness to the Truth

to serve and not be served

to give his life as a ransom for many.

When your little “I am” becomes “We are”

you know instinctively: life is not about you

you are about life. You are here to serve like Jesus:

“I live yet not I, but Christ lives in me”

– St. Paul in Galatians 2:20.

 

“To dare to do what is right,

to not float about in the realm of possibilities

but to seize what is real and to take action,

this is true freedom.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

and this is the true fulfillment of religion whether

Christianity/Judaism/Islam/Hinduism/Buddhism –

to not be so heavenly bound

you are no earthly good.

If there are no charitable works

there is no enlightenment in any religion whether

Christianity/Judaism/Islam/Hinduism/or Buddhism.

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.