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

 

RECONNECTING SEXUALITY AND SPIRITUALITY

 In medieval times the Church made a theoretical separation

of the sacred and the secular which was a brilliant political move

to preserve the Church’s power in the “Investiture Conflict”

that is, the Church wanted priests and bishops chosen by the pope

whereas politicians wanted them chosen by kings and the state.

The state would then have been in control of the Church

with clerics kowtowing to the wishes of whatever politicians wanted.

 

However, this sharp separation meant the last thing seen as sacred

was sexuality. The word “sexual” comes from the root “secare”

which means to “cut off” – we are all cut off from the whole

and so we all have this constant longing for union and communion

with everything, which is the essence of sexual desire.

 

Sexual morality is a key concern of quantum theology

but not in terms of dualistic right and wrong behaviour

but rather how foundational values

like love/justice/freedom/peace/truth/equality

are socially and sexually incarnated.

 

Loneliness for humans is a taste of death

a form of solitary confinement

so no wonder the lonely sometimes lose themselves in violence

as a way to retaliate against the pain:

“No one loves me? I will show them how little I love them.”

 

Our shadow projections can make the world into a mirror

that shows us our own ugly face.

If we project our negative intentions/motives onto others

we will be hostile toward them

and they will be hostile toward us.

What we do to others will be done to us –

the Law of Karma/Consequences/Sowing and Reaping.

 

The only time to be enlightened/wise/kind/loving

is right now. So let us live in the Now

which does not separate the sacred and the secular

the union of body/heart/mind/soul

sexuality and spirituality –

both come from the desire to love and be loved.

 

“God has made us for great things – to love and be loved.”

– Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 

LOVE WITHOUT BORDERS

Love knows no boundaries:

from the most elementary particles: quarks and bosons

to the most intense human relationships/sexuality

there exists a lifeforce that lures and attracts –

gravity/attraction/love is the basic driver

of the universe/evolution.

 

Evolution is not just another theory

according to Teilhard de Chardin

it is a dimension of truth to which all theories/disciplines –

physics/chemistry/biology/sociology/history of religions –

must bow, if they are to be credible.

 

Religion as our ultimate concern (Paul Tillich)

is a dimension of spirituality to which all major religions

Judaism/Christianity/Islam/Hinduism/Buddhism

must bow – this means religion is much broader than church:

lawyers can be seized by an ultimate concern for justice

and thus make the legal system more accessible for the poor.

In a ‘theonomous’ (God-based not church-based) culture

many groups can co-operate, including churches,

in transforming society. Is not this all religion too – God acting in the world?

 

Buddhism can transform civilizations, as in Thailand and Vietnam

with its Five Precepts which outlast any war:

cultivate compassion/kindness/oneness of body and mind/

mindful speech/mindful consuming.

 

Christ’s only description of the Final Judgement (Matthew 25: 31-46)

has nothing to do with following the Ten Commandments/

attending church/believing in papal infallibility

it is only about seeing Christ in the marginalized

and reaching out to them in lovingkindness

as the image of God in the least sister/brother.

 

In giving Christian or Buddhist lovingkindness to others

we need to start with unconditional love for ourselves

whether we feel weak/small/incompetent/not good enough

we can still choose to love our true self/

forgive our false self/

be happy.

 

Loving others starts, but never ends, with loving our whole self

without boundaries/limits/conditions.

CONTEMPLATION TRANSCENDS SCIENCE

The Pre-Axial Period was marked by mythology/fantasy.

The Axial Period was marked by reason/

the power of the individual/personality –

the “self” was born.

 

But the Present Age has conflicted feelings about reason

because: we now see its limits/

have felt its inhumane touch/

doubt its power to solve problems/

know its capacity to create problems.

 

What we need today is for scientific rationalists

with their focus on external knowing

to give assent to the internal knowing of mystics

as legitimate knowledge or at least information.

Instead of writing mystics off as their main opponent

deluded by superstition/myth/fantasy – scientists need to see:

people need meaning more than facts.

 

True nonviolence does not try to defeat its opponents

either physically/emotionally/intellectually/spiritually

rather it tries to find the good

already inherent in the opponent, which can be hard

if the opponent thinks the injustice they support is, in fact, just.

 

In western culture ‘meditation’ used to be equated with

‘rigorous thinking’ – which led to great achievements

in philosophy/theology and even science.

 

But in western culture Teresa of Avila was one of the few

who in medieval times taught the eastern way of no-thinking:

in contemplation you go beyond meditation –

you don’t think much, you love much.

 

In eastern thinking about no-thinking

the Tao: underlies the cosmos/

is the Absolute made manifest/

creates truth/nature/destiny/cosmic order

and Yin, the dark/passive/feminine principle

and Yang, the light/active/masculine principle

are inherent in all things – including each human being.

It is Yin and Yang – the Mother and Father aspects of God –

Wisdom (Sophia) and Yahweh – making endless Love

that creates the universe and all things.

CHALLENGING OUR PARADIGMS

The new cosmology revealed by science

like the parables of Jesus

shatters our old paradigms

and challenges us to broader/more inclusive thinking.

 

Irenaeus had a cosmic Christology

largely lost because the Church Fathers

focused on practical/down-to-Earth matters

such as combating Arianism

which claimed Christ is not divine.

The Council of Nicea (325 AD) asserted that

Christ’s incarnation saves us and deifies us –

we become like Christ.

 

Theology has always been otherworldly –

about metaphysics – “What is the nature of God

and God’s Kingdom?” – things ultimately ineffable

instead of teaching us how to live the teachings of Jesus.

 

Teilhard de Chardin’s hyper-physics (union before being)

overthrew metaphysics focused on

stasis/unchangeability/sameness.

Union always searches for ‘moreness’ –

more being/consciousness/love –

it is never satisfied with the status quo.

 

But in the West, religion has done our work

for us: scholars and bishops have told us

what to know not how to know

and what to see not how to see.

The result? People who never had to think

and are unable to comprehend

great and holy things.

 

Still, a spirit of prayer pervaded the Second Vatican Council

and reading the documents of Vatican II

can be a form of ‘lectio divina.’

The Council encouraged all believers to put prayer first

urged people to pray while reading scripture

pray for the conversion of hearts

and begged all of us to follow the ways of

universal love/peace/justice –

it was a fresh take

on an old paradigm.

FALLING (SUPER-SPIRITUAL) STARS

Many people have a multi-faith identity:

Catholic/Protestant; Buddhist/Jewish;

Baptist/Episcopalian; Christian/Hindu.

 

People are called in many different ways

but if you refuse God’s call

you turn the adventure/your true life

into meaningless boredom/a wasteland/

death.

 

Our only true greatness lies in

the humility of living faithfully.

The purer our faith, the closer we come to God.

The one who desires to exalt herself/himself

with extraordinary sexual or mystical experiences

becomes less/not more in the eyes of God.

 

If you can abandon all desire 

for the fruits of your actions/results

you can perform freely/without attachment

your duty – to love.

 

One’s duty may be to be a good spouse –

the intimate partnership of married life and love

has been established by the Creator

and is defined/qualified/bounded

by the Creator’s laws/thou-shalt-nots –

THOU SHALT NOT: lie/steal/covet thy neighbour’s

wife/husband/commit adultery.

 

Like Ravi Zacharias, Jean Vanier was a super-saint –

his work with the developmentally delayed

in L’Arche/the Ark became world-wide

group homes for those rejected by society

and his book Becoming Human

helped us discover our common humanity

the journey from loneliness to belonging

and to a love that includes all –

people of multiple faiths and no faith

people able/differently abled/disabled –

Vanier was a saint until the MeTooMovement

caught him with his pants down

with multiple women. Another spiritual superstar

had fallen – to everyone’s utter dismay.

RETURNING TO RADICAL AMAZEMENT

The sexual/social/self-preservation drives

are the raw material of who we are as humans

and so cannot be killed off

although ascetics try their hardest.

 

According to Rohr/Rolheiser/Fox

these drives are all good and just need to be

harnessed/channeled/integrated not killed off

so they give energy to our spiritual endeavours

and serve us not destroy us – they are good

not evil monsters/dragons/demons.

 

According to Immanuel Kant as you move morally

from being biocentric (sex and survival) to egocentric

to ethnocentric to worldcentric (universal compassion)

you also discover your higher/truer/deeper self.

 

If you expand your heart and mind infinitely

you come to God’s Infinite Love, the “Ultimate Thou”

and to your self as the “Ultimate I”

culminating in the “Ultimate I-Thou Relationship.”

 

But as we take on jobs/get married/join religions

everyone pressures us to do

in order for us to live up to their ideals

and as we shove more and more stuff

into our shadow-bag

by midlife we are a mere slice

of the 360-degree-self we started with.

 

We become fraught with “sins of omission”

including: not living lives of justice/

not being transformed/being ‘born again’

only once instead of many times/

leaving creativity/divinization/original blessing/

the cosmos out of our theology.

 

Radical Amazement by Judy Cannato

invites us back into contemplative awe/awareness

of black holes/supernovas/the wonders of the universe

 which are the key to self-transformation

and transformation of the world.

 

THE PURPOSE OF ALL THINGS

The only purpose of God in creating the universe

was that it be a communion of souls in love.

Christ is the center/goal/perfection/paradigm of communion

so the meaning of Christ extends to

all people/all civilizations/all planets/all universes.

 

The only purpose of all spiritual practice

is to help you become an awakened human being –

a loving/contemplative sage full of God here and now –

which is the true nature of who you already are anyway –

so the end of the journey is its beginning.

 

Discovering your True Self can be a great relief –

you no longer have to protect/project/promote

an ideal self-image – your False Self.

Your True Self was always there and always will be

so you can relax and be yourself – flaws and all.

 

Awareness that life is flawed is the beginning of wisdom

and the beginning of anxiety is when a flawed being

becomes aware of its future non-being.

 

Today, the “Way of the Cross” involves

becoming aware of our flaws/limitations/sins

abandoning perfectionism/pursuing wholeness/

dying to our ego and finding our True Self

which may be exquisitely painful

but it focuses on growth not transient happiness.

 

Today we are blessed with tools like the Enneagram

which helps us understand

the depths of our darkness

and paradoxically allows us to grasp

the heights of our True Self

the divine image and likeness of God within

which longs to go without

and join others in forming

a communion of souls in love.