Wednesday, November 16, 2011

According to Yoda...

"Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Possibilities and Miracles

Part of my comfort with Christianity as I got older came from new prophets who assured me that it's OK not to believe in the miracles of Jesus. Such belief was not necessary to get the message of Jesus, and to begin the long journey of unity and rejection of dualism.

Still, there is something appealing about miracles. We don't want to dis-believe. When I was a boy I used to have a recurring dream where I looked into a window well (mid-westerners know what I mean) and saw elves making candy in a colorful, fun-filled 'factory'. To this day I have trouble shaking the felt-sense that such a place really exists.

So when I read and reflected today on this story:

 Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

I resisted rejection of the miracle as a metaphor or a method of conveying truth. I wanted to find a way to find the miracle true(not just truth, but true).

A few days ago I was watching a documentary with physicist (I was a physics undergrad at University of Colorado) Amit Goswami, who stated, quite simply in his talk about quantum physics, that at any moment there are infinite possibilities for what will happen, and our consciousness converts possibility into an actual 'event'. If in that moment, we encounter the possibilities not as our own consciousness (as ego or false-self), but as part of a larger consciousness, a cosmic or Christ-consciousness, so that we engage that moment of possibilities in a non-isolated way, miracles are possible.
Put another way, we encounter the Holy Spirit.

Lately I've been trying to get a handle on a definition of the Holy Spirit, but it seems that the only way to define it is to relay peoples experiences with it. It usually involves the 'miracle' of a totally unexpected moment, when something happens, or is communicated, that the person strongly states did not come from their effort, their intentional act. Often the term 'out of the blue' is invoked.

Thus, there is something to be said about that thin place where we surrender our own self, enter a consciousness of unity with all of creation, and believe that any of the possibilities that are in that moment can be actualized, even miracles, even feeding five thousand people with a few loaves of bread.

So the food for miracles seems to be a recipe of surrender, non-dualistic thinking, and perhaps, the Holy Spirit. I'm just sayin....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PS 26 - My Foot Stands on Level Ground

Dear xxxxxxx,

Your prayer for judgment, asking God to take a look at your heart and mind, underlines the courage which you have been given, by Grace, to walk openly before God. (If I did not know you, I would have taken this as a 'dare' to God.) In it I hear the desire to walk the path of perfection, and the plea to resist the temptations that often can take us off that path. The fruits of your journey of discipline and love are, as you so wonderfully expressed, that 'God's love is before your eyes'.

I wonder though whether you have truly arrived at that place where your 'foot stands on level ground'? I understand that you may desire to avoid the places where liars and hypocrites and the wicked may go, but can anyone truly walk the path of perfection and avoid those places? There is a difference between avoiding those places and their temptations, and walking through them with the freedom that comes from loving God.

I would just like to hear more about those temptations, and perhaps together we can listen to God's call for us among the sinners and bloodthirsty men. What if God's desire wasn't to sweep away sinners, but to call you and I to attend to them, listen to them, and help them stand on level ground as well? What then would be your prayer?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ps 18- He brought me out into an open place

Dear xxxxx,

You speak in your letter titled Psalm 18 of a vision that you had- a vision with disaster, with enemies, with the breakers of death and cords of hell.
And then of God as "mounted on cherubim and swooping down on the wings of the wind, bringing you into an open place because he delighted in you".

Can you tell me more about what you think that these breakers of death and cords of hell represent for you?
Who are these enemies and what makes them so?

I wonder whether you have insight into the place that God brought you to- a place that was open? Can you tell me more about what that place looked like?

Perhaps, as an exercise, you could imagine a different kind of rescue where God does not come hurling thunderbolts and rocking the earth with his anger. Is there possibly a different kind of rescue from these enemies? Why do you think that the vision at this time called for such an angry and violent God?

Most of all I want to help you notice that God delighted in you, and this was the reason for your rescue. Perhaps the vision itself was just a vehicle for conveying that simple message.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ecce eris tacens: Behold, thou shalt be silent.

SSM 2v

Dear Thomas,

I hope you are beginning to see the invitations that surround you like dust that appears in sunlight as it beams into a room. As you stood on that corner in Louisville, you recalled " strange it was to see people walking around as if they had something important to do, running after buses, reading the newspapers, lighting cigarettes." And then "How futile all their haste and anxiety seemed."

Then you say your "heart sank within me" and recognized that you too had been pretending to do something important all of your life.

What is it that you are discovering there? What have you gotten a glimpse of there? Do you really need further guidance about vocation?

I understand your fear about asking for advice, one 'last time' about a vocation as a monk. It is usually true that once one has been told that they are not called to ordained ministry, it is not likely that they will hear a different answer later on. Not a hard and fast rule, but the discernment process is reliable when it is done correctly AND when the desire is not so limited as to rule out other options.
In your case, your fear that you will be rejected one last time and the dream will be over has frozen you into inaction, despite the fact that you are clearly experiencing the pull to some sort of monastic life.

Have you considered that a 'no' to monastic life with the Franciscans is not a 'no' to the Trappists, or Carthusians?

And so, you ask my thoughts on your experience (Augustinian as you point out) in opening the Bible and randomly pointing to scripture to designate the answer to your question of what you should do. Is this hocus pocus? Is this the Holy Spirit?
"I looked, and the answer practically floored me. The words were 'Ecce eris tacens'. Behold, thou shalt be silent.'
Not silent about your question, as if God would direct you to stop bothering him.
Silent as in the opposite of haste and anxiety.
Silent as in the space between musical notes that make up a wind quartet.

Follow your heart Thomas. Ask the question again, but this time open the question up a bit. Recall the first principle of Ignatius. Is it really about which order to join because you are looking to escape from the anxiety and haste? Or is it about the community that will hold you and lighten the path to serve and reverence and praise this God who is poking you with silence, this tacens.

Do not tarry.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Excellence, in proportion to obscurity

SSM 2iv

Dear Thomas,

You must free yourself of all dependence on the perceptions of others, or you will not be able to discern even the slightest whisper of what God calls you to. Are you able to hear the full mathematical set of answers, or will you only hear what you perceive to be your destiny as your desire drowns out the rest?

What does God desire for the world? Can you predict this, and then shape your own desire to fit it, like a dovetail joint?

You must identify each and every reason that you wish to become a monk. Then you must place it on a cloud, and watch it, ask it to let you go, and then silently thank it as it washes away. Exhaust them all.
Can you free yourself from the imagination of every other person who might know of your desire to become a monk. Are you a monk in someone else's imagination still? Yes? Then you are not ready.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ignatius- 1st Principle and Foundation and Discernment

SSM 3i,ii

Dear Thomas,

Your movement to begin looking at monastic orders seems to be moving at a pace that even surprises me. I'm sure you will soon find that the abbot of the order will not move towards entry at the same pace as you might desire. There is good reason for this, proven by the endurance of each order. The desire to quickly enter an order is itself an attachment, albeit an attachment to the dream to escape whatever is causing you anxiousness in your life at this moment.

I would advise you not to strictly read up on the various orders in the Catholic Encyclopedia, or even Wikipedia. You must talk to the abbot, and you must meet with your spiritual director even more often during this period of discovery. I realize the attraction that you have for the Franciscans is genuine, but again you must not make a decision until you have overcome the false excitement of escaping your current life.

You must be prepared to hear 'NO' and be at peace with that response, even joyful at such a revelation of God's grace. The desire must be for the right answer from God, not for 'Yes'.

How to do this?

Aw, this is the good news!

You have already encountered the 1st Principle and Foundation of Ignatius, and in it, the guidance towards the exercise that will lead to a decision based on spiritual freedom.

The First Principle and Foundation

The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul.

All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created.

It follows from this that one must use other created things, in so far as they help towards one's end, and free oneself from them, in so far as they are obstacles to one's end.

To do this, we need to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, provided the matter is subject to our free choice and there is no other prohibition.

Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.

Begin by an examination of your day, your week, and this moment, and as Ignatius suggests, ask whether your action, your desire, your prayer is for the praise, reverence and service to God. And do not allow yourself to fool yourself by pretending that what is 'of God' is only, in fact, self serving, or self-falsehood.

This will take practice, but like all practices, you will soon develop a kind of memory for what Ignatius means by indifference.

The real fruit of this practice will be an awareness of all the things to which you are attached, and which lead you to trouble, anxiety, and confusion.