CLEARING UP RELIGIOUS MISUNDERSTANDINGS

 

 Stories move people more than reason

because they transport us right into the living context.

The Jewish and Christian scriptures are full of stories

that bring God into the richness/messiness of life.

 

Meister Eckhart knew that stories promote understanding

more than logic, and he defined ‘understanding’

as ‘deiformity’ – conformity to the mind of God –

when we rightly understand how the world works

we are drawn into/formed in the mystery of God.

 

There have been many misunderstandings in Christian history –

Saint Paul has been grossly misunderstood 

as anti-marriage/pro-patriarchy/anti-Semitic/pro-slavery.

In all this he did not betray Jesus or invent Christianity.

What he did was: challenge Jews to new ways of thinking

and confront Roman patriarchal theology by proclaiming

Jesus not Caesar is Lord.

 

More misunderstandings: some theologians think

the doctrine of original sin is optimistic –

it does not teach humans are evil by nature

but that evil in humans is unnatural/a disorder/a sin.

If evil were natural to humans

we would be perfectly happy in evil

but evil people are not happy

or if they are, it is not natural.

 

Misunderstandings caused his fellow monks

to treat Saint John of the Cross harshly.

After eight long months in prison/a dark closet

and constant beatings by other monks

he escaped in 1585 and wrote his spiritual classic

Ascent of Mount Carmel.

 

Misunderstanding Bible verses such as

“Be perfect as God is perfect”

results in perfectionism/fear/legalism/hypocrisy

but the context is: God exhorting us to love everyone

just as “God makes the sun rise and the rain fall

on the good and the evil” (Matthew 5:45-48).

Perfection therefore consists in 

unconditional love not moral flawlessness.

 

THE KEYS TO THE UNIVERSE

 Nonbeing was used as a concept

by Plato to contrast suffering/existence with pure essence

by Plotinus to describe the loss of the self/soul

by Augustine as an ontological interpretation of sin.

 

It is inevitable that we fall into nonbeing/sin –

the tension between our freedom and our finitude

creates anxiety as we confront

our great responsibility to fulfill our potential

and our limited ability to do so.

 

Our thoughts carry us away like the wind

but if we let them dissipate like mist

we end up in the Present Moment

where there is primordial richness and wisdom.

We need to always return to the Present – the Gift.

 

We also need Community – no matter how flawed.

If the Sangha is having trouble

you first need to transform yourself

into a candle which lights the other candles.

But any Sangha, any Community

Is better than no Community –

Evil/Ego wants to separate and divide us.

 

In the Body/Ego stage I focus only on

my own physical body and its survival.

In the Mind/Us stage I can put myself in others’ shoes

so I focus on relationships.

In the Spirit/All of Us stage I become aware

not only of all our differences

but also our common values –

the common good of all sentient beings.

 

Love at all stages: self/others/all creatures

is the Universal Key – God has given humans

the Keys to the Universe

and “Each of you will be rewarded

according to the measure of your love

not according to the amount of work or time it took.”

– God speaking to Catherine of Siena

BIRTHING HEAVEN AND EARTH

“From time immemorial

people have had ideas about a Supreme Being

and the Land of the Hereafter.

Only today do they think

they can do without such ideas.” – Carl Jung

“Sin is to believe the lie

that you are self-created/self-dependent/

self-sustained.” – Augustine

People are bound not free because they sacrifice

their personal integrity/spiritual liberty

for security/money/ambition/pleasure.

Global warming is a global warning

that this self-centeredness is not working –

people dying from flood/drought/fire

is the canary in the coalmine of human extinction.

According to legend, the Buddha’s father

provided his son with 40,000 dancing girls

and all pleasures that material/secular life can offer

but the gods disguised themselves

as an old/then sick/then dead man/

and as a happy monk

and so the Buddha-to-be retired from the world.

Mindfulness is the womb that produces the Buddha

so we are all potential Buddha-mothers.

If we take care through mindfulness

of the baby Buddha latent inside us

eventually Enlightenment will be born.

We all need to see today

in a more holistic/paradoxical/wise way

going beyond mere rational thought

to giving birth to God inside us

not as an external agent

and to Nature as sacred

not as a means to personal gain.

We all need unitive thinking to give birth

to a New Heaven/New Earth

within and without.