FRESH AND GREAT REVELATIONS

 

 St. Gregory of Nyassa wrote that the contemplative life

cannot be lived in secular society

but St. Basil claimed it is possible while you work

to pray with your mouth/heart/mind.

 

At the monastery, Thomas Merton learned:

– how to pray while working as a laborer

– how to be a member of the human race

– that every other human being is no more crazy

and ridiculous than he claimed to be – than we all are.

 

Merton also learned and contemplated:

– fear is the awareness of one’s own finitude

– the possibility of one’s own nonbeing

– that anxiety is natural for mere mortals.

All these were great revelations to him.

 

Today extreme theological traditionalists

try to overcome anxiety by ignoring the past two centuries

while extreme theological progressives

subordinate Christianity to worldly philosophies.

The former flounder like fish-out-of-water in contemporary culture.

The latter flounder like fish-out-of-water in the church

and, despite their protests, are not Christian –

you have to draw the orthodox line somewhere.

 

The years when the religious right ordains

fundamentalist presidents always result in religious disaster –

alienating all young Americans

who hold completely different values

about women/homosexuality/poverty/climate change.

 

According to the great Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel

the problem for both extreme right and left is: no awe.

After all, radical amazement lies in all reality:

not only in amazing things I can see – like the Milky Way –

that filmy white night banner overhead – but also in the fact that:

– I can see

– I can reflect on my ability to see

– I have a self that can reflect on things

– that this self is part and parcel of all that was/is/will be.

 

All these were great revelations to Heschel

and revelations always light up our footsteps on the path to God.

THINKING OF OTHERS

The First Axial Period was about individual consciousness

whereas the Second Axial Period, which we have just entered

is about global consciousness.

 

Western philosophy reached its lowest point, its nadir

with Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.”

We know now that we are more than rationality

and thinking is the primary place we hide

from the humiliating collapse into naked ‘being.’

More accurate would be: “I think therefore I am not.”

 

We need both self/other/subjective/objective thinking:

First Person ‘I’ is about the Beauty of self-expression

Second Person ‘You’ is about Goodness in relation to others

Third Person ‘It’ is about objective Truth.

Beauty/Goodness/Truth – this is all we need.

 

Since all is a seamless whole

you can give up your isolation, be naked

and enter into union with all that is.

Thus, you go

from separation to oneness

from selfishness to love

from ego to God.

 

When things are delightful

think of others

and pray that delight for them.

When things are hard

think of others

in similar suffering

and let your heart feel compassion

as you pray for them.

 

And practice contemplative eating:

when you eat

contemplate the 40,000 children who die everyday

for lack of food

feel compassion

and think what you can do for them.

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

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?”

NEW ADAMS AND NEW EVES

Gandhi’s doctrine of nonviolence

came from his optimistic view of human nature –

truth is the law of our being

nonviolence is more natural for us than violence

love is more of our essence than hate.

The Cloud of Unknowing:

love must receive primacy in prayer

ahead of cogitation.

We must pray out of love

not out of a quest for knowledge.

And we must love God for God’s self

not for what God does for us.

To meditate to feel good is a common mistake –

every time you don’t feel good

you will feel like a failure at meditation.

Even the most experienced meditators

feel pain and frustration.

But non-dual seers hold contraries together

like pain and pleasure

and since they experience everything as One again

they are New Adams and New Eves

in the garden naked and unashamed.

Men in particular need to grow

into spiritual maturity, becoming New Adams

by exploring ancient wisdom

about the spiritual life of men

and relaunching the Sacred Masculine.

The medieval view by men like Aquinas and Eckhart

went beyond intellect and will

to the divine spark in the soul.

The soul is naturally godly

and designed to know ultimate perfection.

This is the true knowledge that transforms:

God made us for perfect holiness, grace and truth.

PERFECTIONISM,HYPOCRISY, COMMUNITY AND PRAYER

Many great souls live on the margins of society

so they don’t get hoovered up by it.

This can take hard forms:

monks/nuns/hermits/

poverty/chastity/obedience

or soft forms:

everyday believers

fasting from television/shopping/violence/

flaunting wealth/lust/rebellion.

This is not perfectionism –

religion that tells you that you must be perfect

for God to love you

forces people to deny and repress their sin

and so become hypocrites and inhuman.

Empty churches/mosques/synagogues come from

hypocrisy not secularization.

Dualistic thinking creates hypocrites

because it totally separates

good from evil/saint from sinner/soul from body:

an ongoing disaster for Christians.

I am my body – the body is no add-on

or afterthought to who I really am.

Not handling the body and sexuality well

results in the hypocrisy of sexual abuse.

Thich Nhat Hanh: Buddhists do not talk

about Original Sin but about negative seeds:

hatred/lust/racism that exist in us all

overcome by developing Buddha seeds

that also exist in us all:

love/purity/inclusion.

The key for any human, whether religious or not

is to be true to one’s

self/inner guiding light/conscience.

But no one can open and surrender to truth

unless they first feel heard and loved –

loving a person in all their sin/delusion/wrongness

is the only thing that opens their door to Truth.

And the self is always embedded in a community

hopefully a community of love, the Beloved Community

so life is not just self-realization

but also community-and-world-realization.

The Beloved Community is created by prayer:

true prayer is the Holy Spirit praying to God in us

often with a love too deep for comprehension

so our spirit becomes one with the Holy Spirit

one living Flame of Love.

Sitting quietly in prayer is practicing

under-doing and under-achieving

which gradually forms us into a human being

rather than a human doing –

prayer thus saves the world from itself.

But there can be politics to prayer:

the truly spiritual are always a threat to politicians

because what politicians tell us is real

the devout see as ephemeral and unreal –

wealth means nothing to those who come back

from near-death-experiences

who see the Big Picture

through God’s Picture-Window.

Neither politics nor science has all the answers –

science must be silent

on ultimate questions

because it must always be open to disproof

but our hearts and spirits still want

ultimate answers

and honesty means honoring this universal longing.

There are strong empirical reasons for believing

in things that cannot be proven

such as love and friendship

that give our lives meaning

and help us endure incredible hardships –

we are destroyed if we think “no one loves me”

and life is just

Shakespeare’s “tale

told by an idiot.”

INNER WORK

Endowed with a spiritual soul/free will/intellect

humans from conception are ordered to God

and destined for eternal happiness.

They pursue perfection by seeking and being

that which is true and good.

Celtic mysticism is built on

a charism of pilgrimage

a constant quest for the land of the saints

and a return to Paradise, the great journey

St. Brendan and his monks manifested.

Buddhists also sought the Pure Land

because the Buddha taught

three basics of human existence:

impermanence/no separate ego/suffering.

To accept these three

is to accept reality as it is.

We all seek true transcendence but

since we won’t let go of our separate ego

we cannot find our destiny.

We seek true life in substitutes:

food/knowledge/sex/power

but never find wholeness.

To not settle for substitutes for God

requires inner work which is done

not just for your self

but for the whole Body of Christ.

Inner work makes you aware 

of any self-seeking disguised as Christian service.

Failure to integrate the shadow

causes serious problems in Christianity –

clergy sexual abuse which destroys

the Church’s moral authority and role:

the conscience of culture.

On the other hand, many see inner work and spirituality

as just another form of consumerism

individualistic/lacking commitment to the common good/

devoid of intellectual content

basically, a New Age fad of Oprah religion.

But, to pray is to build your house

then, to realize Someone Else is in your house

then, to discover this Someone Else owns the house

then, to discover there is no house

because everyone shares the same

one and only Home – our True Home – God.

Doubt can grow along with faith –

faith and doubt are co-relative terms –

to grow in faith, you must go through doubt

about your old ways of being and believing

to come to higher and broader levels of faith.

Doubt wrestles with God, like Jacob and the angel –

“Israel” means “one who wrestles with God.”

Just as there is no love of God

without love of neighbor

there is no real conversion to God

without conversion to the world and its problems

caused by wanting/wanting/wanting.

God opposes constant wanting. God only wants

the creation of more complex and conscious beings

but this spiritualization of matter

and how matter leaps to new levels

is always brought about by periods

of great stress/instability/crisis.

The consciousness and dignity of humans

and of the divine image within us

requires authentic freedom

when it comes to religious choices –

freedom from external pressures

and internal compulsions.

Women are under intense pressure

to get caught in the competitive/masculine/hero archetype

which clashes with a deeper archetype within them:

the desire to be a mother – the Mother-Archetype.

Who will deliver us

from this constant human folly of constant wanting?

Beyond inner work we need a Savior

to save us from ourselves.

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.

 

SEEING CLEARLY

First, learn to pray.

Love must be primary in prayer

and God must be loved for God’s own Self.

We need to form a ‘cloud of forgetting’

between us and all things

to block distractions.

The word ‘penance’

has ironically been corrupted

by moralistic and individualistic

meanings – the original meaning was

‘turning away from the world-trance’

so you could see clearly.

All Seers engaged in this life

of penance – clear-seeing.

John of the Cross advocated 

carrying in your heart

an image of Christ

crucified

clearing away the confusion

and fog of living.

Then you can see that 

Planet Earth is in the middle 

of a Calvary-disintegration

thousands of species extinguished

our lungs, the rainforests

destroyed by the pandemic 

of greed and nuclear weapons 

threatening annihilation of everything.

Rather than seeing these facts

we anaesthetize the pain

with addiction:

to computer games, binge-watching, porn.

If there are no names already written in Heaven

no grace, then I have to make my name everyday 

“Its all about the money” 

and I have to out-compete the seven billion 

other dogs gobbling up other dogs.

And so, I anaesthetize, I enter the world- trance.

What is needed is

a return to Nature.

Identifying my self with the universe

is not romanticism or sentimental

it is essential

to Christian mysticism

the salvation of the planet

you cannot discover your True Self

without discovering you are One

with Nature.

But scientists don’t want mysticism –

symbols and emotion bother them because 

– although they are a fact

with undeniably immense impact –

they cannot be precisely 

defined or measured.

New religions are powerless

unless full of the sacred life-force of Eros

which creates powerful

visions – Jesus’ preaching

is full of Eros –

both exciting and disturbing.

The first letter to Timothy

witnesses the Church’s transition 

from a charismatic, democratic movement

into an institution

ruled by a hierarchy.

To get back to the Original Church

we must return to mysticism:

loving God, others, and our True Self

embedded in Nature.

We need to return to nature-mysticism

to grace, names already written in Nature

to see clearly

God in all things

and save our Mother

Earth.

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.