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The Mystery of Consciousness: Conveyor of Light and Love

Where your heart is, there also is your treasure. 

A LINE FROM A POPULAR POEM BY RUMI about a field “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing” has been repeating in my head since I published my previous post: “When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”  And it truly is. There’s just so much going on in our world today for one to crowd into one’s thimble-size mind.  Another saying that Rumi penned from his home in Konya, Turkey, speaks of the heart’s treasure: “I looked in temples, churches and mosques. But I found the Divine in my heart.” 

In the movie “The Sound of Music,” Maria (Julie Anderson) sings “I go to the hills when my heart is lonely.”  Today, amidst the devastation in Ukraine and the repercussions the sanctions levied against Russia are having on the economy here and globally, I go to my heart to find peace and sanity.  Peace, because love abides here; sanity, because in my heart I know and understand that all is well in the Hands of God. 

By divine design, we human beings are the hands of God here on Earth.  Whatever happens, let me be a beacon of light in the darkness of human consciousness . . . and human consciousness is truly filled with darkness.  But darkness is simply the absence of light.  It’s not something of itself.  It’s nothing.  Light is something! Let there be light! 

A large mass of humanity has withdrawn from the light of love and hunkered down in the shadows of fear and uncertainty.  But let the Spirit of Love move upon the face of the waters of human consciousness and, Voila! There is light! And the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not comprehend it. “How can you be so calm and peaceful amid such atrocities and violence?! Where is your outrage!? Your condemnation of Putin and his murderous foot-soldiers who have exterminated tens-of-thousands of their fellow countrymen, women and children included?!” Such reactions are only incapacitating spiritually and contribute nothing but fuel to the fires raging in human hearts and minds, clouding and darkening vision.  If there’s one thing needed at this time it’s clear vision.

Whatever happens, let me be a beacon of light in the darkness

I find it somewhat challenging to refrain from outrage and remain non-judgmental in all of this death and destruction being heaped upon Ukraine and her citizens.  But that doesn’t mean I have blinders over my eyes.  I see clearly what is happening—at least what the news is telling and showing us—but only with my eyes. 

“A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten-thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee, for only with thine eyes shalt thou see and behold the reward of the wicked.” (Psalm 91:7). 

I looked up the word wicked and it has several connotations and applications: vicious, depraved, (wicked habits); mischievous or playfully malicious (a wicked joke); obnoxious or offensive (a wicked stench); formidable or excellent (a wicked tennis player).  The Psalmist most likely would characterize the wicked as “vicious” and “depraved.” Who, then, are these “wicked” ones who are reaping their rewards? I think we all have had some part in wickedness; surely any and all who have lived for the material treasures of the world rather than the spiritual treasures of Heaven. 

CONVEYOR OF SPIRIT

Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch, although a good segue to the theme of this post, the word “wicked” has the word “wick” as its root—which is a woven chord for conveying liquid, like the wick of a candle which is designed to convey the melting candle wax up to fuel the flame for light.  Consciousness is a conveyor of Spirit, given to us by the Creator as a means of connecting with Heaven and for conveying the Light of Truth and Love into the world.  By design, we are much like the whirling dervishes of Turkey who spin ’round and ’round, with one hand pointed upward toward heaven and the other hand turned downward toward the earth, as they provide a channel for bringing Love down from God into the world.  

There’s a wise saw that says you can’t fix a problem at the same level as the problem, but from a level above the level of the problem.  And so it is with the problems that plague human consciousness.  The solutions are to come from above and not from below.  The design for the New Earth descends from Heaven above into the heaven of human consciousness . . . but only as there is room to receive it.  Filled with wickedness, there’s no room for the Truth of Life, which is Love.  We need to cast the devil—literally the divider—out of our heaven, as Jesus did: “Get thee hence!”  Then there will be room for the Truth of the New Earth to emerge from the New Heaven and replace the old earth. 

A large part of the old heaven is occupied by the Christian belief that Jesus came down to earth from Heaven to die for our sins and redeem “us sinners” from the hands of the Devil.  That is a redaction and a lie conjured up by Saint Paul and the Council of Nicaea, the most grievous of lies ever perpetrated upon human beings. 

The truth is that Christ, the Son of God, incarnated in Jesus and came to show us how to love God and one another.  That’s the truth, and I think it’s time that Christians, and particularly Catholics, do away with their crucifixes and repent for having worshiped the murderous crucifixion of the Son of God all these centuries.  I am certain that He doesn’t want nor like that his crucifixion is still being celebrated as the purpose for his visitation to this planet.  We can celebrate His life and victory over death by His resurrection without dragging him through that ignominious ordeal in our memories and our Holy Week liturgies.  Please, take him down from the cross and worship the Father in spirit and in truth, which is all He asked.  His true passion was and is the return of Love of God and love for one another to humanity and to His Father’s world. 

If a cross is needed, one can replace the crucifix with the balanced cross of St. Benedict, which is a plus ⊕, symbolizing a cross-over point between Heaven and Earth, which is what Jesus was and what we are designed to be.  (This cross is believed to protect one from the Devil and was used in exorcisms to cast out demons.)

I’ll leave you with the beautiful and rich Russian choral music of Grechaninov’s Passion Week, Op. 58:1, Behold the Bridegroom, performed by the Phoenix Bach Choir, Kansas City Chorale, conducted by Charles Bruffy.  Enjoy this first track of the album.

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=65aDlqi4KQI&feature=share

Have a Happy Easter Sunday. Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved. 

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

 

The “Mystery of Consciousness”. . . The Addiction to Narrative

“Don’t be afraid to face the facts, and never lose your ability to ask the questions: Why? and How?”   Immanuel Velikovsky 

CONSCIOUSNESS IS NO MYSTERY.  Like a seedbed wherein ideas are planted, nurtured by unwavering belief, and given birth in their seasons, consciousness is the matrix for creation.  It is very fertile soil, so fertile that one has to be very careful about the nature of the seeds one plants. 

This fertile soil can be cultivated and seeded from below as well as from above and within.  Our physical bodies and the natural world are the fruits of seeds planted by Life from above.  The world that man has constructed and imposed upon the surface of this planet, with its skyscrapers, concrete roadways and parking lots, industrial and commercial complexes, along with its burgeoning landfills, are all the product of seeds planted by human beings from below . . . none of it compatible with the fine living, breathing fabric of our beautiful Home among the stars. 

Not all is a burden to the Earth, as many of our ideas and dreams, visions and asperations are creative and harmonious with the natural climate of Gaia.  There is a saying among the spiritually awake when an idea presents itself for manifestation, “Put it in the heaven.”  A more common expression is “Put it on the back burner.” If it is resonant with Life, it may be useful to the creation of a living world.  What we now have is a dying world created by dying human beings. 

Weeds find their way into this sacred soil as well, deposited there by birds-of-sorts in their fertilizing poop. There’s a biblical passage that cautions “Beware the snare of the fowler,” the web-like net of the human mind that snares fleeting ideas. The soil of consciousness can become cluttered with weed-yielding seeds, so we have a responsibility to “Tend and keep the Garden.”

The content of human consciousness is generally a clutter of “false ambition’s restless schemes” . . . busy thoughts and self-serving ideas and concepts—many of them like concrete: thoroughly mixed up and permanently set . . . and ardently defended when challenged.  Just consider the “narrative” put forth by the official guardians of the nation’s health with regard to the current global health crisis.  Try and put forward an alternative narrative on social media, even amongst friends and family, and you’ll find yourself quickly censored and cancelled.  Mark Twain had something to say about this: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled.”

THE “OFFICIAL NARRATIVE”

Human consciousness, in its state of uncertainty and insecurity, greatly values official and popular narratives, and will ardently defends them against any and all challenges to the contrary.  It’s an addiction affording a sense of comfort, though false, in knowing what’s going on in the world, especially in a life-threatening crisis.  Most are fear mongering motivators. 

There are a number of crises constantly going on in our world of many problems.  One such crisis is in the Christian world of religious beliefs and doctrines.  I ran into this one several months ago during a fairly pleasant conversation with a nephew who is heavily invested in the Pentecostal narrative that “All men are sinners”—until I suggested he consider the passage in Genesis that says he is made in the image and likeness of God and is therefore Divine.  He vehemently objected to even the suggestion of a different narrative about the nature of man. “Oh No! I am a sinner! The Bibles says all men are sinners.”  I recall a biblical passage that declares “All men are liars.” (Psalm 116:11).  It was Paul who declared all men to be sinners, but Paul didn’t know the Master, nor did he ever hear Him speak of His Gospel of the Kingdom of Love.

Then, there’s this “pandemic” which has polarized the population of the world in two different camps believing in two opposing narratives.  Friends and families have been torn apart by this controversy.  The attitude is taken, on both sides, “Don’t mess with my belief if you don’t want to start a heated argument.  I need to believe in this for my own sanity and security.”  Apparently, this is not a good time nor topic for inquiry and critical thinking.

People have been censored and imprisoned, even scrubbed out, for putting forth a narrative that radically differs from the “official” narrative . . . and not only in modern times.  We have the historical precedent of the crucifixion of Jesus.  He was denied not once but three times by a disciple, abandoned by all but two or three, and crucified by those to whom he had come to offer salvation and a Way into the Kingdom of Heaven without having to die—all for proclaiming his divinity and the divinity of all men, male and female, made in God’s image and likeness.  He brought forward a narrative that was radically different from the long-standing Hebrew doctrines, and it was rejected by staunch believers in an ancient narrative that a Messiah would come and set things to right here on earth.  “My kingdom is not of this world” he told Pilate . . . yet another narrative that no one in his day could quite comprehend much less adopt.  The narrative of a temporal kingdom with a Messiah as king was deeply invested in by the religious authorities of the day, as well as the Zealots among the people, who cried out for his crucifixion. 

OUR YOUTH IN THE “CLIMATE CRISIS”

Then there’s the “climate crisis” everyone’s polarized in . . . well, almost everyone, most actively our youth since it’s their future that’s at stake.  Here’s a report by Somini Sengupta, Global Correspondent on climate issues for the New York Times from a recent survey of 10,000 young people on the issue of climate change. 

HOW THE YOUNG GENERATIONS VIEW THE WORLD

Four Takeaways on the youth climate movement: They’ve grown up in a pandemic.  They’ve come of age in an era of strongman leaders.  The climate crisis looms over their very lives. Generation Z, the cohort born after 1996, has inherited a set of compounding uncertainties. It explains, in some measure, the vibe of the youth climate movement. Powered by rage and distrust, it is decentralized and it is increasingly focused on the inequitable effects of global warming.

The global youth movement known as Friday for the Future has called on its members to organize protests around the world this Friday, March 25 (yesterday).  Its rallying cry is “climate reparations and justice.”

Here’s what I find most revealing about this generation of climate activists: They distrust government.

In a survey of 10,000 people between ages 16 and 25 in 10 countries, three-fourths said they think “the future is frightening.”  The survey was funded by an advocacy group, Avaaz, led by researchers at the University of Bath in England and published in The Lancet in December.  It asked respondents to answer “yes” or “no” or “prefer not to say” to a series of questions.

More than 64 percent said their governments were not “doing enough to prevent a climate catastrophe”; more than 61 percent said they did not have trust in their government; and more than 58 percent said their governments were “betraying” them.  In the U.S., they are mostly female and white.

This state of protest in the consciousness of our youth, seeded and nurtured by fear of extinction of our species, and anger toward the government for not doing more to avert an existential crisis, ignores the fact that the government has little real control over the climate of the planet.  The climate of the earth and all the planets is largely controlled and determined by what’s happening with the Sun at the center of our solar system.  Earth is part of a unit and moves with what is moving within it—which for the past several years has been a gradual heating-up, bringing about climate changes on all the planets, severe storms and turbulences just like those here on Earth. 

Our planet is not in jeopardy of extinction.  We are.  Not by climate change alone but by our own hand.  We’re poisoning our water, our air and our earth with our waste and industrial pollution. The fourth Creative Force, fire, cannot be polluted, and is at work cleansing and purifying the earth and its inhabitants. 

THE OFFIIAL CHRISTIAN NARRATIVE

Returning to the ill-conceived cancellation of Jesus by the radical fundamentalists of his day—a cancellation that was echoed and repeated at the ecumenical Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, a council of Christian bishops convened by Roman Emperor Constantine, in which Jesus’s message of the Kingdom of love was literally redacted and the official narrative of Christianity for the entire world established and published in the Nicaean Creed, a narrative recited at Sunday Services in the Christian world year ’round. The narrative Jesus brought and offered to the world hasn’t been successfully cancelled but continues to be offered by the Lord of lords and King of kings.  His Kingdom is the Kingdom of Heaven from which his Father, who is Love, seeds the sacred soil of Consciousness from which Mother God brings forth the fruits of the Tree of Life in the Garden of the Natural World and so-called “wild kingdoms,” even with a few faithful stewards on hand to tend and keep it. 

The youth of today protest to the government for its lack of doing more about the “climate crisis.”  The truth is, WE are the government.  As youth choirs sing out these days, “We are the world.  We are the people.” It’s our job to set things to right here on Earth.  We are the designated keepers of Eden. 

IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD SEEDED BY LIFE

When was the last time you looked around and marveled at the beauty of Mother Nature’s wonderful world?  The wondrous works of the Creator, seeded from above by Father Sun, as the Native American Indians saw the world and honored the Earth and the Great Spirit whose world it is?  As I stated earlier, we must take great care for what seeds we sow in the garden of human consciousness.  Seeds of fear for what the climate prophets predict lies ahead for mankind and the planet invite that which we most fear to come upon us. The narratives we uphold and hold sacred in consciousness have the potential of doing more than simply defining what is thought to be going down in our world.  They have the seminal potential of determining what will transpire down the road, if not sooner.  

“IT’S WHAT IT IS”

When I think deeper about it, why do we need a narrative at all?  About anything? Why, indeed?  A narrative is not needed to define what’s going on in the world. It’s plain to see. As the current popular quip puts it, “It’s what it is.”  The world is what it is . . . and how we’ve made it.  There’s a saying in the Bible “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” The New World—the biblical “New Jerusalem”—comes down from God out of Heaven . . . “adorned as a bride for her husband” . . . all ready to be received and established on Earth.  That’s why we’re here.  The only reason why we were put here: to know the ordinances of Heaven and to set their dominion in the Earth.  Let us lift up our hearts unto Heaven and welcome the New Earth . . . even as we totter on an existential precipice “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” as the ancient saying goes.  

I leave you with these timeless words in the form of a poem composed by a remarkable spiritual teacher, Lord Martin Exeter.  May they quicken the angelic spirit of love for the truth of life in you, my cherished reader and follower.

                            THUS IT IS

From age to age

      Love’s word rings forth,

          “The truth is true and all is well,

                 Unconquerable life prevails.”

Oh, man, whose strident dreams

       Lead gravewards,

               Return to calm and noble

                       Character of life.

Blaze forth pure virtue;

        Depart false ambition’s restless schemes.

Busy thought and troubled feeling

        Trespass not in virtue’s wise serenity

              Where firm control and awful power

                      Eternally abide.

Here earth’s pains are healed

       And cruel chaos of mind’s spawning

              Is called again to order and to beauty.

 Thus it is. Until my next post,

Be love.  Be loved. 

Anthony 

tapal70@gmail.com

 

The Incarnation of God, 3: Unveiling Love, the Gift of You

           Love is at the Heart of Creation 

Time held me green and dying, though I sang in my chains like the sea.  —Dylan Thomas

I GREET YOU ON THIS CHRISTMAS MORNING in the Spirit of the Christ, whose birth we celebrate today. Let peace reign in your heart today and throughout the New Year.

Cynthia Bourgeault takes this chapter of her book, THE WISDOM JESUS, home to an unveiling of love.  Recapping the previous two paragraphs for continuity of thought, here is the final installment of this series on the incarnation of Jesus.

♦ ◊ ♦

LET ME BE VERY CLEAR HERE. I am not saying that suffering exists in order for God to reveal himself. I am only saying that where suffering exists and is consciously accepted, there divine love shines forth brightly. Unfortunately, linear cause-and-effect has progressively less meaning as we approach the deep mysteries (which originate beyond time and thus have no real use for it). But the principle can be tested. Pay attention to the quality of human character that emerges from constriction accepted with conscious forgiveness as compared to what emerges from rage and violence and draw your own conclusions.

At any rate, I have often suspected that the most profound product of this world is tears. I don’t mean that to be morbid. Rather, I mean that tears express that vulnerability in which we can endure having our heart broken and go right on loving. In the tears flows a sweetness not of our own making, which has been known in our tradition as the Divine Mercy. Our jagged and hard-edged earth plane is the realm in which this mercy is the most deeply, excruciatingly, and beautifully released. That’s our business down here. That’s what we’re here for. ♦ (Emphasis added)

Unveiling Love

IF MY HUNCH IS CORRECT, you can see how it significantly rearranges the playing field. Our earthly existence, then, is not about good behavior in preparation for a final judgment. It’s not a finishing school in which we “learn what we need to learn,” nor a sweatshop in which we work off our karmic debt. Right here and now we are in the process of speaking into being the revelation of God’s most hidden and intimate name. That’s a difficult assignment, particularly when “success” and “failure” mostly wind up being the complete opposites of what we would normally expect in life. But the most productive orientation for our time here is not to focus on how quickly we can get back to our spiritual homeland, but to give ourselves fully to the divine intimacy being ventured right here and now. We might reassure ourselves that in some conscious (or deeply trans-conscious) way, we have chosen to bear our part in what mystical tradition calls “the suffering of God”: the costliness that is always involved in the full manifestation of divine love. We’re doing it here and now, through the marrow of our own human lives, consciously lived. And these space-time conditions, as fragile and as frustrating as they are, are precisely the conditions which allow it to happen. As the poet Dylan Thomas expresses it in the beautiful lines with which this chapter began, “Time held me green and dying, though I sang in my chains like the sea.” It is the reality of the chains that creates the beauty of the song.

Mediator as Bridge

From a God’s-eye view of creation, the real operational challenge is not sin and evil; it is posed by the vastly unequal energetic frequencies between the realms. How can the sun touch a snowflake? How can the divine radiance meet and interpenetrate created life without incinerating it? This is the ultimate metaphysical koan—to which Christianity proposes as its solution the mystery of the incarnation.

This realization, in turn, opens up a whole new line of insight into John’s statement, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” The Son, in this wider metaphysical context, is no longer the one who bails us out or who rescues us from our fallen state but the one who becomes our bridge between the realms. Recognizing the enormous difficulty of our mission, Jesus comes to accompany us on it, advocating for our human finitude in a way that respects its integrity but doesn’t allow us to get trapped in it. As in the traditional theological understanding (but with a very different flavor), he becomes our mediator. Standing at the confluence of two vastly different orders of being, he offers his own life as the sanctuary between them.

“Become All Flame”

As we have seen already, these great metaphysical paradoxes lend themselves more easily to poetry and metaphor than to the theological scalpel. One of the classic images Christian mystics have used to portray this cosmic mediation is actually very ancient, from the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus (3:1-6) the story is told of how Moses, while tending his father-in-law’s flock of sheep in the Midianite wilderness, suddenly comes upon a bush fully engulfed in flame and yet miraculously intact. The miracle is quickly revealed as an angel of God speaking through the flame. But for the Christian desert hermits later inhabiting that same wilderness, the burning bush became a symbol of Jesus himself: all flame, yet perfectly intact within his finite container. And there were those among that desert fellowship who yearned for that same incandescent ground. In one of the most famous of the desert parables:

Abba Lot went to Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace, and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.

Would it be possible for us, too, to “become all flame”? Could our own lives become such a perfect fusion of infinite love and finite form that light would pour from our being as an actual physical radiance? I have indeed seen this light in more than a few realized masters toward the end of their earthly journeys; it is the fully revealed mystery of human life lived as a conscious sacrament. How we get there is the secret Jesus will unfold for us through the course of his own consciously sacramental life. But our first step in joining him on this journey is to recognize that his incarnation is not about fall, guilt, or blame, but about goodness, solidarity, and our own intimate participation in the mystery of love at the heart of all creation.

♦ ◊ ♦

Life is sacred wherever it is expressed in Nature.  A life lived with love is truly a sacrament.  I love Cynthia’s passionate presentation of the incarnation and life of Jesus.  Speaking of passion,  I was listening to Bishop Michael Curry on NBC’s Today Show this Christmas Eve morning give his Christmas message, which is all about giving the gift of YOU to all those you meet in your daily activities by greeting them with a smile and a kind word or two to make a connection with them for sharing love.  He exemplifies this in his own robust ways.  We each have a gift to give of our Self, which is a gift from Heaven from whence we came into this world.  The gifts of Spirit are always coming down from God out of Heaven.  We need only be still enough and prepared in our hearts to receive and deliver them.  My friend in South Korea, Jae Hyoung Lee, shared this timely message on his Facebook page today: 

How careful are you that the atmosphere in you, that your state inside yourself, is of such a nature that the delicate things of God will not be destroyed? Such things will be destroyed by self-indulgence in such things as resentment, fear, hate, jealousy. All such attitudes produce a coarse atmosphere within a person, where the delicate plant cannot grow, where the delicate plant in fact will be destroyed. The way the world now is the atmosphere is so coarse that the things of God cannot exist here. They must first be placed in a womb, and the womb is provided by human beings, who were created for this purpose. We are the human beings through whom this development needs to take place, and we are responsible for maintaining security.  —-Martin Cecil

There a beautiful hymn we used to sing in choir that speaks of the womb of the Earth for beauty to be born and our crowning role as emissaries of beauty and light.  I’ll leave it with you to hold in your heart during this Christmas Season and throughout the coming year. 

Our God did make the earth a place of beauty, love and light, Where skies and seas and all of life reveal Him with delight. For God did make the earth a womb where beauty might be born. 

The flowers drink the rain and sun above the good brown earth, And do not seem to have to try to fill their life with worth. For God did make the earth a womb where beauty might be born.

And man He made with crowning care to share His majesty, To let His gifts of life appear, His glory ever be. For God did make the earth a womb where beauty might be born.

May your Christmas be a joyful celebration of the gift you are and the gifts of friends and family.  Feel free to share my Christmas message with friends and loved ones.  See you next year!  

Merry Christmas . . . and Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends and neighbors! 

Anthony

 

The Incarnation of God, 2: Many Mansions

“The crucifixion wasn’t really the hard thing for Jesus; the hard thing was incarnation.”  

THE PASSAGE ABOVE, attributed to the mystic Bernadette Roberts, sets the tone for this second in a series of three posts on the theme of the incarnation of Jesus, the son of God.  I continue from where my previous post left off sharing from Cynthia Bourgeault’s  beautiful and provocative book, THE WISDOM JESUS, Transforming Heart and Mind—A New Perspective on Christ and His Message.  We came into Being in Heaven before coming into Human form on Earth, and our journeys here were anything but pleasant.  We fell into this illusive world “from a lighter gravitational field to a heavier one.” With this post I celebrate the Winter Solstice and the beginning of yet another solar cycle initiated by the increase of Light.  Enjoy.  

♦ ◊ ♦

“Many Dwelling Places”

We Christians still inhabit a rather small universe, metaphysically speaking. We know that we live here on earth, and some of us may believe that above it is a place called heaven, counterbalanced by a place down below called hell. At very best it’s a three-tiered universe. But the ancient wisdom traditions (now strongly reinforced, incidentally, by findings emerging from modern physics and cosmology) universally suggest that we need to throw this three-story world out; it is far too cramped to contain the vastness of divine consciousness. There are many realms, wisdom teaches: not just earth, heaven, and hell, but countless densities or dimensions of existence, all of which exist to manifest or mirror an aspect of the divine fullness. Jesus himself states this very clearly to the disciples in his farewell discourses in the Gospel of John, when he says, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places” (John 14:2). He does not mean physical places but rather states of consciousness or dimensions of divine energy (as we saw in chapter 3 with Jim Marion’s recognition that the “Kingdom of Heaven” was Jesus’s way of referring to nondual consciousness). The tradition of sophia perennis (perennial wisdom) pictures this vastness as a “great chain of being” or “ray of creation.” which begins in a pure, high-intensity, invisible, subtle consciousness and “descends,” thickening as it does so, into this world we inhabit: the realm of sharp edges and tables and chairs and human beings crashing and banging against each other in a finite and terribly solid world.

The contemporary Christian hermeticist Valentin Tomberg envisions this ray as a vast energetic cascade, beginning in divine consciousness itself and ending up in our familiar empirical universe. In Meditations on the Tarot he writes:

“Modern science has come to understand that matter is only condensed energy. Sooner or later science will also discover that what it calls energy is only condensed psychic force, which discovery will lead in the end to the establishment of the fact that all psychic force is the condensation, purely and simply, of consciousness; i.e., spirit.”

Like a mountain whose base is solidly on the earth but whose summit is hidden in the clouds, this insight leads us step by step up the ray of creation. Modern physics certainly would have no difficulty with the assertion that matter is only condensed energy; this is officially the Second Law of Thermodynamics. But what about this next realm, “psychic force”? Here the paths divide. This second form of energy is well known to spiritual seekers, but largely invisible to hardcore science; it is the energy flowing through prayer, attention, intention, and will: those more subtle exchanges which science has so far declined to measure but which we know have the power to create demonstrable effects in the physical realm.”

Beyond psychic force, yet another energetic realm awaits us, claims Tomberg, for psychic force is itself only the “condensation” (that is, the densification or coarser expression) of a substance incomparably more intense and subtle: pure spirit, pristine consciousness itself, unmediated by any form of expression. This primordial quality is known by many names in the tradition-“I AM” in Judeo-Christian tradition, wujud (“reality”) in mystical Islam, rigpa (“pristine awareness”) in Tibetan Buddhism. The names vary, but the understanding remains the same. Virtually unanimously, the ancient wisdom roadmaps picture the cosmos as a vast light stream, radiating out from the ineffable Godhead through the realm of primordial intention (known in Christianity as the logos), into archetypal form and energies, and finally into human, earthly becoming. Our life here in this physical cosmos is merely the endpoint of a long journey of what you might call “divine redshift”— that is, the condensation or cooling down of the intense energy of pure spirit in order to make physical manifestation possible.

Down Here on the Edge

So here we find ourselves on this plane of existence, at or near the bottom of the great chain of being. What are we to make of our position? What are we doing “down” here in a world that seems so dense and sluggish, so coarse and fragile and finite? Even in our dreams we move faster than the speed of light, and our mystics and visionaries are perpetually reminding us that in our heart of hearts we remember and yearn for a state of greater spaciousness and fluidity.

It’s curious, when you come to think about it, how virtually all the world’s spiritual traditions see this earthly realm as somehow deficient. Depending on the tradition, our world is either an illusion or a mistake, but in either case we “fall” into it, from a lighter gravitational field to a heavier one. We have seen how the Judeo-Christian tradition upholds this understanding in its primordial myth of the fall of Adam and Eve. Other traditions (primarily the Eastern ones) see this world as a mirage, an illusion to be dispelled. Still other traditions, such as mystical Islam, carry a profound sense of exile and a “nostalgia for the infinite.” Here is not home.

Is there another way of looking at this? I believe there is, and I think that it is actually at the heart of what is intended by that beautiful mantra, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” But it is so spiritually counterintuitive that it remains almost entirely unspoken — at least I myself have never heard it spoken or written about in any of the traditions. To the extent that what I am seeing here is correct, Christian wisdom steps out into unknown territory, leaving even sophia perennis behind.

Here is my take: Yes, this is a very heavy, frustrating, difficult density that we come into by taking birth in the human realm. Because of the binary, finite nature of both the physical world itself and the egoic operating system we use to navigate it, it seems as though we’re always bumping into sharp edges. Life presents us with a series of seemingly irrevocable choices: to do one thing means that we have to give up something else; to marry one person means we can’t marry another; and to join a monastery means we can’t marry at all. Our confused agendas clash both inwardly and outwardly, and we cause each other pain. Our bodies age; we diminish physically; loved ones fall out of our lives. And the force of gravity is tenacious, nailing our feet to the ground and usually our souls as well.  I remember my granddaughter, now five, who from the very moment she arrived on this planet expe­rienced an intense frustration bordering on fury at her inability to move. “What the hell?” she seemed to be saying as she flailed her little arms and legs and tried even at four months old to wriggle herself across the room. I have never seen a child who
felt the constriction of this planet as much as she did. 

Yes, we come into constriction, but is that the same as punishment! I believe not. I believe rather that this constriction is a sacrament and we have been offered a divine invitation to participate in it. 

Remember our discussion of sacrament at the beginning of this chapter! A sacrament reveals a mystery in a particularly intense way while at the same time offering the means for its actualization. And in this sphere of human life, the sacrament is finitude and the mystery is “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known….” 

Notice that there is a subtle double meaning at work in this phrase. At one level “I loved to be known” is a synonym for “I longed to be known” (and the phrase is often translated that way). But you can read the words in another way: “I loved in order to be known”– and when you do, they reveal a deeper spiritual truth.  In order to become known to another, we must take the risk of loving that person, and this includes the real possibility of rejection and the even more painful prospect of heart­ break if the beloved is lost to us. It is difficult to risk love in a world so fragile and contingent. And yet, the greater the gamble of self-disclosure, the more powerful the intimacy and the more profound the quality of devotion revealed. 

Could it be like this for God as well? 

Could it be that this earthly realm, not in spite of but because of its very density and jagged edges, offers precisely the conditions for the expression of certain aspects of divine love that could become real in no other way? This world does indeed show forth what love is like in a particularly intense and cost­ly way. But when we look at this process more deeply, we can see that those sharp edges we experience as constriction at the same time call forth some of the most exquisite dimensions of love, which require the condition of finitude in order to make sense — qualities such as steadfastness, tenderness, commitment, forbearance, fidelity, and forgiveness. These mature and subtle flavors of love have no real context in a realm where there are no edges and boundaries, where all just flows. But when you run up against the hard edge and have to stand true to love anyway, what emerges is a most precious taste of pure divine love. God has spoken his most intimate name. 

Let me be very clear here. I am not saying that suffering exists in order for God to reveal himself. I am only saying that where suffering exists and is consciously accepted, there divine love shines forth brightly. Unfortunately, linear cause-and-effect has progressively less meaning as we approach the deep mysteries (which originate beyond time and thus have no real use for it). But the principle can be tested. Pay attention to the quality of human character that emerges from constriction accepted with conscious forgiveness as compared to what emerges from rage and violence and draw your own conclusions.

At any rate, I have often suspected that the most profound product of this world is tears. I don’t mean that to be morbid. Rather, I mean that tears express that vulnerability in which we can endure having our heart broken and go right on loving. In the tears flows a sweetness not of our own making, which has been known in our tradition as the Divine Mercy. Our jagged and hard-edged earth plane is the realm in which this mercy is the most deeply, excruciatingly, and beautifully released. That’s our business down here. That’s what we’re here for. ♦ (Emphasis added)

♦ ◊ ♦

I love Cynthia’s passion and I’m finding her insights enlightening relative to the evolution and transformation taking place in Christian thinking and in the collective consciousness as a whole, probably because I still have a place of compassionate caring in my heart for my Catholic roots.  Not that I’m setting out on a mission to save the Catholic Church.  It’s the betrayed and misled that I care about, and who I have in mind and heart sharing Cynthia’s writings.  Please feel free to wisely share these blog posts with friends and family.  We will find out where the author is taking this consideration in the final series installment, which I will post on Christmas day.  Until then, Happy Solstice.

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com 

The Incarnation of God

I was a hidden treasure, and I loved to be known, and so I created the worlds both visible and invisible.” — Islamic Tradition

CHRISTMAS IS A YEARLY CELEBRATION of the incarnation of God’s only son, the Lord of Love and Prince of Peace, on Earth. I would like to share with you an insightful view and perspective of the incarnation of Jesus as a fully humanized being, taken from Cynthia Bourgeault’s beautifully written and profoundly insightful book THE WISDOM JESUS.  Its author is an Episcopal priest who has written several books exploring Jesus’ life as a mystical teaching and sacrament. 

Having emerged from a Catholic upbringing myself, and having spent seven years in Catholic Seminary, I do enjoy sharing this author’s vision of what Christianity could be simply by adopting a more metaphysical view and understanding of it core truth and of the One whose birth we celebrate this week.  Cynthia takes us from where we’ve been in our religious path of worshiping God, to where we are now at the threshold of opportunity for a radical shift in our attitude and consciousness, and forward to how we could easily move into a more spirit and love based path to knowing God.  I will share selections from her book in two or more blog posts.  I hope you will enjoy her as much as I do.

♦ ◊ ♦

THE INCARMATION

IN THE FIRST PART of this book we explored Jesus’s teachings as a comprehensive spiritual path. In this second part we will be shifting our focus to consider Jesus’s life itself as a teaching. By “a teaching” I mean a model, of course; all authentic teachers walk the talk. But more than just a model, I want to consider his life as a sacrament — that is, as a spiritual force in its own right. The traditional definition of a sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” But what to my mind this definition does not make sufficiently clear is that a sacrament does not merely symbolize a spiritual reality; it lives that reality into existence.

Jesus’s life, considered from this standpoint, is a sacrament: a mystery that draws us deeply into itself and, when rightly approached, conveys an actual spiritual energy empowering us to follow the path that his teachings have laid out. This sacramental life of Jesus rests on four cornerstones which are both historical events and cosmic realities: his incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension. Together they compose the foundation of the Christian mystical and devotional life, and to open oneself fully to the meaning of these great mysteries is to be able to read the inner roadmap of the Christian path. In the next four chapters we will be exploring each of these mysteries in turn. My hope is to move beyond the usual theological and critical-historical explanations in order to follow the living mystical thread that will allow us to appropriate each one of these mysteries as food for the journey.

Since the ground we will be traversing is also the sometimes prickly shared territory of Christian liturgy and sacramental theology, let me remind you once again of my own background here, so that you will know where I am speaking from. While I wear the collar of an Episcopal priest, most of my lived liturgical life has been within the wider stream of Benedictine monasticism, primarily Western and Roman Catholic (although the Episcopal liturgy is in most respects identical), and it is from this perspective (as well as my earlier training as a medievalist) that I will primarily be speaking when I describe the ritual celebrations that unfold these great mysteries. I am less familiar with the Orthodox traditions (except through my exposure to the  Christian inner tradition), but at ease within the Celtic and Oriental Orthodox spiritual streams, whose extraordinary insights I will draw on at appropriate moments. As Meister Eckhart once observed, “There is no being except in a mode of being,” and the Western Catholic mode of being is the stream in which I have primarily come to know what I know. With that disclaimer in place, let us see what we can discover about the first great mystery, the incarnation.

“For God So Loved the World . . . .”

I remember being struck many years ago by an insight from the contemporary mystic Bernadette Roberts that crucifixion wasn’t really the hard thing for Jesus; the hard thing was incarnation.” Crucifixion and what followed from it — his death and resurrection — were simply the pathway along which infinite consciousness could return to its natural state. What was really hard for infinite consciousness was to come into the finite world in the first place. With nothing to gain from the human adventure — nothing to prove, nothing to achieve, and a dangerously unboundaried heart that left him defenseless against the hard edges of this world — Jesus came anyway: that, claims Bernadette Roberts, was the real crucifixion! As we saw earlier, Paul grasped that same point in his beautiful hymn in Philippians 2:9-16. The first self-emptying that Jesus goes through is the self-emptying that lands him in bodily form on this planet, a human being. There is definitely something spiritually counterintuitive about this business of incarnation, and to really get what’s at stake in this mystery is for me the acid test as to whether you understand what Christianity is all about.

Unfortunately, this understanding is hard to come by: not only outside of Christianity, but inside it as well. Make no mistake, Christianity is intensely a religion of incarnation. Millions of people caught up in mass hysteria during the Christmas season can’t all be wrong! But even the sentimental excesses of the season only go to reinforce the point. There is a deeper truth at work here that stirs us in spite of ourselves. Who among us has not awakened in the wee hours of Christmas morning to catch the live broadcast of the Ceremony of Lessons and Carols from Westminster Abbey and thrilled to the sonorous reading of those immortal words from the prologue to the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us”? There is a deep soul-truth here that both contains and redeems our frantic efforts to penetrate its meaning at a more superficial level.

If you were to imagine the great world religions like the colors of a rainbow, each one witnessing in a particular way to some essential aspect of the divine fullness, Christianity would unquestionably hold down the corner of incarnation — by which I mean the vision of God in full solidarity with the created world, fully at home within the conditions of finitude, so that form itself poses no impediment to divinity. There is another beautiful phrase in John’s gospel proclaiming: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16).  At its mystical best, Christianity reverberates with the warmth of this assurance: with the conviction that creation is good, that God is for us, and that what ultimately gets worked out in the sacred mystery of Jesus’s passage through the human realm is a profound testament to love.

Who Screwed Up?

Unfortunately, Christianity as a religion has never had a sufficient metaphysical understanding of its own core truth. The message gets obscured by its primary interpretive vehicle: the theology of fall and redemption. Virtually all Christian teaching begins from the supposition that Jesus’s incarnation is brought about by the fall of Adam and happens in response to it. “As in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive” is the classic Pauline formulation of this idea (I Corinthians 15:20). The primordial parents Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and plunged the world into chaos; Jesus came to rescue it. Thus, incarnation is framed from the start within the context of God’s response to a mistake that should never have happened in the first place. This assumption, in turn, deeply colors our understanding of the phrase, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” It sounds like: “God didn’t give up on us; God bailed us out.”

In a more mystical nuancing of this same basic idea, we encounter the theology of “0 felix culpa”~”O happy fault”~ to quote the first line of a traditional Gregorian Advent hymn which expresses this theology particularly clearly. Rather than blaming Adam and Eve, this line of argument claims, we ought to be grateful for them because their mistake set in motion the chain of events through which Christ would fully reveal himself to this world. Without that initial fall there would have been no need for the redemption. In the most subtle versions of this teaching (as in Karl Barth’s Christ and Adam) linear cause and effect are reversed, and we see Adam and Eve falling into this space/time continuum out of God’s “prior” decision (that is, already made in eternity) to reveal himself in human form. Rather than being the cause of the fall, Adam and Eve become the instruments of the ultimate divine self-communication. This is a much more affirmative teaching, which brings the theology of fall and redemption to its most mature expression.

But I would like to push the metaphysical envelope still further and see if we can approach the mystery of the incarnation through a conceptual framework that does not rely on fall and redemption at all but unfolds along an entirely different line of understanding. Instead of a cosmic course-correction, this other approach envisions the steady and increasingly intimate revelation of divine love along a trajectory that was there from the beginning. The best expression of this idea is actually contained in a beautiful saying from Islamic tradition (although its roots go down into perennial wisdom ground): “I was a hidden treasure, and I loved to be known, and so I created the worlds both visible and invisible.” Both the saying itself and the understanding that illumines it derive from a profound mystical intuition that our created universe is a vast mirror, or ornament (and the Greek word “cosmos” literally means “an ornament”), through which divine potentiality — ­beautiful, fathomless, endlessly creative — projects itself into form in order to realize fully the depths of divine love. And remember that “realize” has two meanings: “to recognize” and “to make real.” The act of loving brings hidden potential to full expression, and the more intimate and costly the self-giving, the more precious the quality of love revealed. This subtle and beautiful understanding of creation will also, as we shall see, have something very important to show us about our true work as human beings.

♦ ◊ ♦

We are each one an incarnation of Divine Being.  Our personal incarnations were stressful and limiting, descending from the peaceful Realms of Light and landing in the dark wet terrain of busy embryonic cellular activity; from flying freely in the air of spirit to crawling on our bellies until our toddling forms learn to walk and run.  How we yearn for the freedom we knew before incarnating.  I remember very vivid dreams of flying above the ground at breakneck speed in my youthful years.  Who hasn’t had such dreams?  And I can relate to the thrill a jet pilot must enjoy flying through the air at supersonic speed.  One has to be fit and well trained to fly a jet.  Likewise our human capacities need compassionate care and vital nourishment in order to be fully fit and available in accommodating the incarnate divine beings we are.     

Yet here we are, fully awake and learning how to navigate a multidimensional universe of energy-shaped-and-driven hard and complex materiality only God comprehends.  Being incarnate gods ourselves, we have been gifted the privilege of sharing in Divine Consciousness and comprehending reality that is incomprehensible to the human intellect—for the darkness cannot comprehend the Light in the same way that Light comprehends the darkness.  We incarnate to bring Light into the dark corners of Creation to bring forth a heavenly world here on Earth where we are.  This gives us great cause for celebrating, at Christmas time and throughout the year. 

I celebrate you, dear reader, this Christmas, along with my own Divine incarnation—and my gift to you and myself is unconditional love and acceptance.  May the joy of Love fill you full to overflowing during this Holiday Season.  Until my next post — which will be published this coming Wednesday,

Be love.  Be loved.

Anthony    (tpal70@gmail.com)

Credits: Artistic drawing by Rose Meeker, author of MAGIC AT OUR HAND – Releasing Our Lives into Order and Beauty

 

Kenosis, Self-Emptying Love — “The Jesus Trajectory”

“It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.”  

Generosity of spirit is innate with everyone.  We are born to be givers.  This pandemic, along with hurricanes and wildfires, is bringing out the spirit of giving in us all, heralding in a new day and shaping a new world.  When I see it acted out in movies and news stories, I tear up with joy and longing for the return of generosity to our world.  A passage from my poet friend Don Hynes expresses what I feel today: 

   The old earth claws for purchase
   but the turning is profound,
   reaching from the furthest stars
   to the roots of trees,
   a new heaven poised beyond
   the horizon, beginning even now
   to shape the world anew.

This passage from Cynthia Bourgeault’s THE WISDOM JESUS touched a place in my heart of deep sadness for the state of the world mingled with profound love for this Man she honors and celebrates so exquisitely personal.  How little we know of his colorful character from the Four Gospels.  The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene give us a taste of his more candid expressions, some rather blunt and thought provoking:  “Whoever is near me is near the fire. Whoever is far from me (the fire) is far from the Kingdom.”  He was no gentle lamb, nor a “sweet Jesus.”  His generosity of spirit still shines through his words and deeds recorded in the New Testament, all of which were written down four to five decades after his departure, all from oral traditions.  Yet they inspire and compel us to be better and do better than we have been and done heretofore—even to be ablaze with love as he was.  Cynthia introduces this passage with poetry by Rumi: 

Yet in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
hard-surfaced and straight forward.
Having died to self-interest,
she risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

The Jesus Trajectory

The words above were written by the great Sufi mystic Jalallu­din Rumi.  But better than almost anything in Christian scripture, they closely describe the trajectory that Jesus himself followed in life. He certainly called us to dying to self, but his idea of dying to self was not through inner renunciation or guarding the purity of his being but through radically squandering everything he had and was. John the Baptist’s disciples were horrified because he banqueted, drank, and danced. The Pharisees were horrified because he healed on the Sabbath and kept company with women and disreputables, people known to be impure. Boundaries meant nothing to him; he walked right through them.

What seemed disconcerting to nearly everybody was the messy, freewheeling largeness of his spirit. Abundance and a generosity bordering on extravagant seemed to be the signa­tures of both his teaching and his personal style. We have already noted this in two of his parables, where the thing that sticks in people’s craws is in each case the display of a generosity beyond comprehension that it can only be perceived as unfair. But as we look further, that extravagance is everywhere. When he feeds the multitudes at the Sea of Galilee, there is not merely enough to go around; the leftovers fill twelve baskets.  When a woman anoints him with expensive ointment and the disciples grumble about the waste, he affirms, “Truly, I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her” (Matthew 26:I3). He seems not to count the cost; in fact, he specifically forbids count­ing the cost. “Do not store up treasures on earth,” he teaches; “do not strive or be afraid—for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke I2:32). All will come of its own accord in good time and with abundant fullness, so long as one does not attempt to hoard or cling.

It is a path he himself walked to the very end. In the gar­den of Gethsemane, with his betrayers and accusers massing at the gates, he struggled and anguished but remained true to his course. Do not hoard, do not cling—not even to life itself. Let it go, let it be-“Not my will but yours be done, 0 Lord.  Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Thus he came and thus he went, giving himself fully into life and death, losing himself, squandering himself, “gambling away every gift God bestows.” It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us. There is nothing to be renounced or resisted. Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing. You let it go. You go through life like a knife goes through a done cake, picking up nothing, clinging to nothing, sticking to nothing. And grounded in that fundamental chastity of your being, you can then throw yourself out, pour yourself out, being able to give it all back, even giving back life itself. That’s the kenotic path in a nutshell. Very, very simple. It only costs everything.

Now, I wouldn’t say that Jesus was the first or the only teach­er in the world ever to have opted for this more reckless and extravagant path, the kenotic way to full union. But it does seem that this was the first time such a teaching had ever been seen in the Near Eastern world, and along with its newness also came confusion. It was a concept so far ahead of its time that even Jesus’s closest disciples couldn’t quite stay with it. They’d catch it and they’d lose it. Paul catches it exactly in his beautiful kenotic hymn, then loses it in the long lists of rules and moral proscrip­tions that dominate his epistles. And as the church took shape as an institution, it could not exceed the wingspan of its first apos­tolic teachers; what they themselves did not fully understand, they could not hope to accurately transmit. Thus, as we will see in the next chapter, right from the start the radical simplicity of Jesus’s kenotic path tends to get roped back into the older and more familiar ascetic models, with a subtle but distinct disso­nance that we will be keeping our eyes on.

“It only costs everything.”  Cynthia’s words in this passage take me back half a century to the awakening phase of my spiritual transformation.  I was in my late twenties, just starting up my chiropractic practice in Denham Springs, Louisiana, eager to give my gift to the world and hungry for patients to serve. The going rate for an office visit back then was $15, up from $5 a decade earlier.  Even with such a low fee, however, I felt restricted and handcuffed by the tradition of a “fee for services.”  What price can one place on health? On life itself? Health is priceless and life is a gift freely given by God to all human beings. It didn’t feel honest for me to place a price tag on my services, so I dropped my fees altogether and placed my services on a “giving basis.”  This launched me into the most rewarding and enjoyable fourteen years of my entire career. (This was before the widely available use of credit cards and insurance coverage of Chiropractic care.)

This way of serving wasn’t original with me but was already being successfully modeled by Dr. William H. Bahan and his brother, Dr. Walter Bahan, up in Derry, NH, who were seeing upwards of a hundred patients a day.  I began attending his seminars and discovering that there were a number of chiropractors practicing on a giving basis. Six years into this new way of serving—called “GPC” for God Patient Chiropractor—I wrote an article for ONTOLOGICAL THOUGHT, a journal of The Ontological Society, while attending an Art of Living Class conducted by the Universal Institute of Applied Ontology (the art of being).  The article is entitled “How Do You Live, Doctor?”  I’ll share it in my next post. Until then,

Be love. Be loved. Be for-giving.

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

Kenosis: Self-Emptying Love 2, “The Gift of the Magi”

“Jesus said: Whoever has found the world and become rich should renounce the world . . . . The world is not worthy of one who finds himself.” — From The Gospel of Thomas

THE GIFT IS LOVE

Continuing with Cynthia Bourgeault’s insight into Jesus’s chosen kenotic path, I will forgo any introductory comments so as not to clutter the space with thoughts other than those presented in this excerpt from her book THE WISDOM JESUS:

A Pointless Sacrifice?

To flesh out a bit further what this path actually looks like, for­give me if I make a sudden leap into the world of modern litera­ture. Kenosis does not lend itself easily to spiritual theorizing. By far its most powerful and moving enactments have come in the form of story and drama.

One of the most precise descriptions of this path, believe it or not, is the familiar and well-loved story “The Gift of the Magi” by the American author O. Henry. You probably remember the tale. Della and James are newlyweds; they’re madly in love with each other. They are also poor as church mice, and their first Christmas together finds them without sufficient funds to buy each other gifts. But each of these lovers does have one prize possession. James owns a gold watch given to him by his grandfather; Della has stunning auburn hair falling all the way to her waist. Unbeknownst to Della, James pawns his gold watch in order to buy her beautiful silver combs for her hair. Unbe­knownst to James, Della cuts and sells her hair in order to buy him a gold watch chain. On Christmas eve the two of them stare bewilderedly at their completely useless gifts.  It has been a pointless sacrifice—pointless, that is, unless love itself is “the gift of the magi.”

And of course, this is exactly what O. Henry is getting at. In the voluntary relinquishing of their most cherished possessions, they make manifest what love really looks like; they give tangible shape to the bond that holds them together. That’s what kenosis is all about.

Another profoundly kenotic parable of our times is the tale that forms the 1987 movie Babette’s Feast, adapted from a short story by Isak Dinesen.  As the drama unfolds we discover that its heroine, Babette, had until recently been one of the most celebrated chefs in Paris, but during the political riots of 1871 she loses everything—restaurant, livelihood, and family. She flees for her life to rural Denmark and is taken in by two aging sisters who have given their lives to religious work, trying to hold together the spiritual community that their father founded. When Babette arrives, the remaining believers have grown old and weary, lost in petty bickering. Babette tries as best she can to lift their spirits, but nothing seems to be turning the situation around. Out of the blue a letter arrives informing her that she has won three million francs in a lottery back in Paris, and then and there she decides to treat these Danish peasants to a proper French dinner. She imports all the necessary ingredients: not only exotic gourmet delicacies for the seven-course meal itself (each with its appropriate wines, champagnes, and liqueurs) but the china dinnerware, silver cutlery, damask table cloths, and crystal glassware. The film zeroes in on the banquet table as the astonished Danish peasants are suddenly faced with this extrava­gant abundance. At first they are frightened and suspicious, but little by little the mood mellows as they slowly relax into gratitude and forgiveness. The last scene of that banquet night has them all stumbling, a bit drunk but very happy, out into the village square, where they form a circle around the fountain (a vivid image in its own right) and begin to sing and dance togeth­er. After all these years they have finally touched the wellspring, and their hearts are overflowing. Then someone says to Babette, “Well, I guess you’ll be leaving us soon, won’t you, now that you’re a rich woman?” She says, “Rich? I’m not rich. I spent every penny I had on that banquet, three million francs.”

Again we see the same leitmotif as in the O. Henry story. An extravagant sacrifice is in one sense wasted, because these poor peasants cannot really comprehend the magnitude of the gift, and by morning, when they’ve sobered up, they will probably have lost most of its beneficial effect. But no matter; the banquet table is set before them anyway. In her no-holds-barred generos­ity Babette offers these broken, dispirited souls a taste of reassur­ance that their long years of faithfulness have not been in vain. She mirrors to them what God is like, what love is like, what true humanness is like. And she does it precisely by throwing away her entire escape route in a single act of extravagant abundance, extravagant beyond the bounds of earth (and therefore invoking the presence of heaven). That’s the kenotic path.

Theologians have sometimes commented that if the goal of ascent mysticism is to bring about union through convergence at the point of origin, the effect of the kenotic path seems to be. self-disclosure and new manifestation. The act of self-giving brings new realms into being. It shows what God is like in new and different ways. Some of the most intuitive theologians of our times say that this is how the world was created in the first place—because, in the words of Karl Rahner, “God is the prodi­gal who squanders himself.” The act of self-giving is simulta­neously an act of self-communication; it allows something that was coiled and latent to manifest outwardly. “Letting go” (as in non-clinging, or self-emptying) is but a hair’s breadth away from letting be,” and our Judeo-Christian tradition remembers that it is through God’s original “Let there be . . . ” that our visible world tumbled into existence.

I love Cynthia’s authentic thinking and writing outside the box of conventional belief.  She presents a theology that I, as a former Catholic seminary student, can easily accept and understand at a heart level.  In my own published writings and blogging, I have ascribed to “ascent mysticism” as the path of ascension to the “point of origin” we think to be up in some Heaven, a point that Jesus himself taught is within.  When he reportedly ascended into Heaven, did he go up or within? 

There is a passage in my SACRED ANATOMY book where I contemplate this paradoxical dynamic.  The word “up” can be both dimensional and non-dimensional, or vibrational, as in moving up to a higher frequency.  The same is true of the word “down.” The biblical account of Jesus’s ascension indicates that he ascended into “the clouds of heaven.”

For example, I mentioned the “clouds of heaven.”  Jesus was seen by his disciples as ascending into the clouds above their heads. These clouds may have been the conditions in their own (transforming) collective consciousness through which the Lord of Love was making his royal exit from the earthly planes back into the higher planes of being from which he had come, and from which we all come—the “kingdom of heaven” which he had told them more than once “is within you.” This could also be the inference made by the two men in white apparel whom they reportedly saw standing with him and whom they heard say to them:  “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  This may well be a classic case where the dimensional state simply did not comprehend the non-dimensional.  The darkness did not comprehend the light.  The lower planes simply cannot comprehend the higher.  But the one who stands in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, the seven planes of being, in the fourth dimension has both physical and spiritual eyes and can see and comprehend the non-dimensional as clearly and easily as the dimensional.

I can appreciate Cynthia’s inference that Jesus descended down all the way—actually “into hell” according to the biblical text—in order to encompass and include all the dimensions of the vast spectrum of Creation in both heaven and earth, in the cycles of restoration, which he was very intentionally in the process of initiating.  In so doing he opened the gates to the Garden of Paradise here on Earth.  As Cynthia states so well in the next excerpt from this chapter, which I will publish in my next post:

It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Until my next post, be love, be loved and be blessed.

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

Kenosis: The Path of Self-Emptying Love

IN THIS SERIES, I will explore the path of “Kenotic Love” as seen through the passionate heart and Christened mind of one of my favorite authors, Episcopal prelate Cynthia Bourgeault, who has rekindled in my heart an ecstatic love for the Man whom Mary Magdalene called “Rabboni”— and who knew her as his Beloved Companion — the romantic story about which I wrote a post back in August, 2018,  The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, which would be a timely read in this day of the rising Divine Feminine. Also my October post Fifth Way Love, A Romantic Path to Transformation.

In this post I will share excerpts from Cynthia’s book THE Wisdom Jesus — Transforming Heart and Mind.  This passage speaks to Jesus’s character and his message to humankind.  Christianity does not teach the Kenotic path that Jesus literally went down.

JUSUS  

There has always been a strong tendency among Christians to turn him into a priest —“our great high priest,” in the powerful metaphor of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews. The image of Christos Pantokrator (“Lord of All Creation”) dressed in splendid sacramental robes has dominated the iconography of both Eastern and Western Christendom. But Jesus was not a priest. He had nothing to do with the temple hierarchy in Jeru­salem, and he kept a respectful distance from most ritual obser­vances. Nor was he a prophet in the usual sense of the term: a messenger sent to the people of Israel to warn them of impend­ing political catastrophe in an attempt to redirect their hearts to God.

Jesus was not interested in the political fate of Israel, nor would he accept the role of Messiah continuously being thrust upon him. His message was not one of repentance and return to the covenant. Rather, he stayed close to the perennial ground of wisdom: the transformation of human consciousness. He asked those timeless and deeply personal questions: What does it mean to die before you die? How do you go about losing your little life to find the bigger one? Is it possible to live on this planet with a generosity, abundance, fearlessness, and beauty that mir­ror Divine Being itself? These are the wisdom questions, and they are the entire field of Jesus’s concern. If you look for a comparable category today, the closest analogy would probably be the Sufi sheik who wields the threefold functions of wisdom teacher, spiritual elder, and channel for the direct transmission of blessing (baraka), in a fashion closely parallel to Jesus’s himself. The sheik is a distinctly Near Eastern category, and it probably best preserves the mantle that Jesus himself once wore. . . .

In order to go up one must first go all the way down.  For flesh to rise, spirit must first descend.  To ascend, one must fully incarnate.  I love how deeply Cynthia understands the kenotic path Jesus took.  

THE PATH OF KENOTIC LOVE

SO FAR WE have been looking at Jesus as typical of the wisdom tradition from which he comes. An enlightened master recognized by his followers as the Ihidaya, or the Single One, he teaches the art of metanoia, or “going into the larger mind.” Underlying all his teaching is a clarion call to a radical shift in consciousness: away from the alienation and polarization of the egoic operating system and into the unified field of divine abundance that can be perceived only through the heart. But how does one make this shift in consciousness? It’s one thing to admire it from a distance, but quite another to create it within oneself.

This is where spiritual praxis comes into play. “Praxis” means the path, the actual practice you follow to bring about the result that you’re yearning for. I think it’s fair to say that all of the great spiritual paths lead toward the same cen­ter—the emergence of this larger, non dual mind as the seat of personal consciousness—but they get there by different routes. While Jesus is typical of the wisdom tradition in his vision of what a whole and unified human being looks like, the route he lays out for getting there is very different from anything that had ever been seen on the planet up to that point. It is still radical in our own time and definitely the “road less taken” among the various schools of human transformation. I will fill in the pieces of this assertion as I go along, but my hunch is that a good many of the difficulties we sometimes run into trying to make our Christianity work stem from the fact that right from the start people missed how different Jesus’s approach really was. By trying to contain this new wine in old wineskins, they inadver­tently missed its own distinct flavor. In Jesus everything hangs together around a single center of gravity, and you need to know what this center is before you can sense the subtle but cohesive power of the path he is laying out.

What name might we give to this center? The apostle Paul suggests the word kenosis. In Greek the verb kenosein means “to let go,” or “to empty oneself,” and this is the word Paul chooses at the key moment in his celebrated teaching in Philippians 2:9-16 in order to describe what “the mind of Christ” is all about. Here is what he has to say:

Though his state was that of God, yet he did not deem equality with God something he should cling to.

Rather, he emptied himself, and assuming the state of a slave, he was born in human likeness.

He, being known as one of us,
humbled himself, obedient unto death,
even death on the cross.

For this, God raised him on high
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every other name.

So that at the name of Jesus,
every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the earth.

And so every tongue should proclaim
“Jesus Christ is Lord!” to God the Father’s glory.’

In this beautiful hymn, Paul recognizes that Jesus had only one “operational mode.” Everything he did, he did by self-emptying. He emptied himself and descended into human form.  And he emptied himself still further (“even unto death on the cross”) and fell through the bottom to return to the realms of dominion and glory. In whatever life circumstance, Jesus always responded with the same motion of self-emptying—or to put it another way, of the same motion of descent: going lower, taking the lower place, not the higher.

What makes this mode so interesting is that it’s almost com­pletely spiritually counterintuitive. For the vast majority of the world’s spiritual seekers, the way to God is “up.” Deeply embed­ded in our religious and spiritual traditions—and most likely in the human collective unconscious itself—is a kind of compass that tells us that the spiritual journey is an ascent, not a descent. Most students of the wisdom tradition consider this upward ori­entation to be one of the foundational attributes of sophia peren­nis itself, its origins no doubt archetypal.  While my own work with the wisdom Jesus has led me to disagree, it is hard to deny that the idea of spiritual ascent has been around for a long, long time. In biblical tradition, the image of the spiritual ladder goes all the way back to the headwaters of the Old Testament, with the story of Jacob’s dream of the ladder going up to heaven. It is probably five thousand years old. Christian monastic tra­dition returned to this image and developed it still further, as essentially the roadmap for the spiritual journey. The seventh century teacher John Climacus (“John of the Ladder”) even took his monastic name from this powerful image, and through his influential teachings it became the underlying philosophy of monastic practices such as lectio divina and psalmody.

Ascent mysticism was very much in the air in Jesus’s time as well. Earlier in this book I spoke of the Essene community, that apocalyptic Jewish sect whose visionary mysticism and ascetic practices were probably the most immediate formative influ­ence on Jesus. At the heart of the Essene understanding was a particular strain of spiritual yearning known as merkevah mysti­cism. Merkevah means “chariot,” an allusion to the Old Testa­ment story of the prophet Elijah being taken up to heaven in a chariot. This dramatic episode offered a vivid image of ascent to God, which the Essenes saw as applying both individually and for the entire people of Israel. “The end of the world was at hand,” and all eyes were gazing intently upward as Jesus took birth on
the earth.

To rise requires energy, in the spiritual realm as well as the physical one. And thus, the vast majority of the world’s spiritual technologies work on some variation of the principle of “conservation of energy.” Within each person there is seen to reside a sacred energy of being (sometimes known as the “chi,” or prana, the life force). This energy, in itself infinite, is measured out to each person in a finite amount and bestowed as our basic working capital when we arrive on this planet. The great spiritual tradi­tions have always taught that if we can contain this energy rather than letting it leach away—if we can concentrate it, develop it, make it more intentional and powerful—then this concentrated energy will allow us to climb that ladder of spiritual ascent. 

This ancient and universal strategy is really at the basis of all genuine asceticism (that is, asceticism in the service of conscious transformation, not as a means of penance or self-mortification). And there is good reason for this: the strategy works. Through the disciplines of prayer, meditation, fasting, and inner witness­ing the seeker learns how to purify and concentrate this inner reserve and to avoid squandering it in physical or emotional lust, petty reactions, and ego gratification. As self-mastery is gradu­ally attained, the spiritual energy concentrated within becomes strong enough and clear enough to sustain contact with those increasingly higher and more intense frequencies of the divine life, until at last one converges upon that unitive point. It’s a coherent and powerful path of inner transformation. But it’s not the only path.

There’s another route to center: a more reckless path and extravagant path, which is attained not through storing up that energy or concentrating the life force, but through throwing it all away-or giving it all away. The unitive point is reached not through the concentration of being but through the free squan­dering of it; not through acquisition or attainment but through self-emptying; not through “up” but through “down.” This is the way of kenosis, the revolutionary path that Jesus introduced into the consciousness of the West.
(to be continued)

THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS

I will leave you to ponder this original prayer of St. Francis, believed to be written by a French Franciscan and based on a little known admonition Francis wrote to his friars, according to James Twyman. 

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.

Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor disturbance.

Where there is poverty (simplicity) with gladness, there is neither covetousness nor greed.

Where there is quiet and meditation, there is neither concern nor wandering.

Where there is love of God to guard the house (cf. Lk. 11:21), there the enemy cannot gain entry.

Where there is mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor severity.

I am deeply thankful to God for life, for health, for serenity of mind and peace of heart.  I am particularly thankful at this time of harvest when we celebrate Thanksgiving for the abundance of Mother Nature as she clothes the trees with new leaves in the wake of devastating hurricanes.  I am profoundly thankful for my companion in life, Bonnie Lee, and for all our family on the West Coast.  Thank you, Lord, for the gift of their presence in our life and in our world.  To my readers and blog followers, a heartful appreciation for traveling with me these past several rich years of sharing the meditations of my heart.  I always enjoy your responses.  Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved. Be Thankful

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

A Nuclear Community, Part 5: Defined by Love

 

ATLANTIS¹

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not in fighting the old but in building the new.” —Socrates 

IN PREVIOUS POSTS of this series, I have used the design and dynamics of the atom as a model for true and coherent community, what I am calling “A Nuclear Community.” I will switch gears a bit and use the symbol of the wheel to demonstrate a viable design for a nuclear community.

As with the Atom, there are three parts to this wheel: the hub, the spokes and the rim. The hub is connected to the axle which is turned by an engine of some kind. (Except in the case of a hand-drawn cart or a horse-drawn wagon). The hub is connected to the rim by the spokes. With these three parts all in place and properly connected, the wheel turns on its axle properly.  In other words, there is a design that allows the wheel to function in a normal and serviceable manner so that the power that turns the axle, or shaft, is transferred to the hub, which in turn transfers power to the rim by way of the spokes so that movement along the road is possible. 

Let’s say the wheel represents the nuclear community model. The axle represents the stable Power Source of the Spirit of Love that manifests and drives all of Creation. The Hub represents the collective heart of the community—or of the body of humanity itself. The 12 spokes represent the collective consciousness out of which all the various aspects that make up a community manifest, such as housing, food supply, waste management, professional services, environmental care, education, religion, etc.  And the rim represents the community’s connection to and movement within its immediate environment—and, within the larger setting, upon the terrain of the planet, Mother Earth—to use a common metaphor, “where the rubber meets the road.”

NUMEROLOGY

There are twelve spokes in the diagram I’ve selected—however, although the number 12 is significant in numerology, as are the numbers 7, 13,17 and so on, any number of spokes can serve the purpose of the wheel, so long as they are supportive and balanced.  The critical factor lies in their connection to the hub and to the rim.  Each and every spoke must connect the axle-driven hub to the rim of the wheel in order for the wheel to move forward—and the hub must be connected to the power source of the axle. 

Now, everyone can see for themselves various implications to community in this model I’ve presented.  The one that stands out to me most relates to the necessity for a coherent transference of creative power, design and control through the various aspects of the community so that the purposes of the ONE and the good of ALL are served.  This requires that all the members of the community know and act out of their own authentic Self and connection with Source, and  that all of the various activities be connected to the Hub and to the nuclear Power of Love that emanates therefrom. There can be no individual self-activity on the part of any member of the community—and no competition between the various “spokes” that would disrupt the harmony and win-win atmosphere in the community.  There can be no profiteering off of another’s creativity.  In fact, money would not even be in the equation as nothing would be assigned a monetary value.  One can see a number of implications just in these few basic requirements.

THE MAGICAL POWER OF 12+1

Returning to the mathematics of numerology, single numbers have their meanings and value, and combinations of numbers have theirs as well. For example, the single digits that make up the number 12, when added together, equal 3, indicating there is a third dimension or reality created when 1 and 2 are added together.  In the example of the wheel, the twelve spokes all point to the hub where they are united in one point of origin creating a collective reality.  With the one point of orientation, a 13th dimension is created.  The number 13, then, represents a creative configuration.

We see this dynamic portrayed in the New Testament, for example, in the configuration of 12 Apostles with Jesus at the center.  We have 13 individuals making up the creative container which the Master drew together in order to accomplish His Heavenly mission and purpose on Earth.  This container also provided a hedge of protection for the Master from the opposing forces present in the religious structure of his day.  To remove any one of the 12 from the group would compromise the container.  As we learn from the Four Evangelists’ accounts, there were at least 2, Peter and Judas, who removed themselves vibrationally from the container by denying and betraying their Master.  Their breach proved fatal to the Master and to his mission and purpose. 

There were a few women along with his brother James and the Beloved Disciple John who provided a more stable and intimate hedge for Him so that he could go on to accomplish plan B, so-to-speak, by achieving His own personal victory over death and establishing a precedent for others to follow in the Way to eternal life.  This configuration of 5 opened the Way to salvation for all of mankind—(5 is the symbol for life). These four close and true friends are his mother Mary, his Beloved cohort Mary Magdalene, his brother James, and John the Beloved to whom He passed His mantle of authority while on the cross, and with whom he left the continuance and completion of His ministry on Earth.

But that was not allowed to happen as Peter and Paul set out to establish a religion out of His teachings, conceptualizing and organizing them into doctrines and dogmas. The collapse of that creative crucible had its destructive repercussions throughout the early bloody history of Christianity and even to this day of a divided global community, particularly the diverse Christian communities and the aggregate of divisive world religions.

THE ESSENES

There was a burgeoning community that had its beginnings several decades prior to Jesus’s arrival called the Essenes who formed a love-based spiritual community along the banks of the Dead Sea.  They were called “Children of the Light.”  I wrote about them in a past series. Their mission and purpose centered in the “Nous”—actually knowing what Jesus taught rather than only believing.  Here’s an excerpt from that series with some interesting history: 

The Essenes were a rather secretive people whose main endeavor was to preserve the “Essene Way” and the secrets and knowledge handed down to them by the “Kaloo,” a very ancient race that was then going extinct. Also called the “Ancient Ones and the Wise Ones,” the Kaloo’s origin appears to have been the ancient and lost island of Atlantis, which sank beneath the ocean waters. The Essenes called it the “Old Land in the West.” Knowing their land was sinking, the Kaloo migrated to Egypt first and then spread out northward toward the Mediterranean Sea.  They were known as the “wanderers” and carried with them many secrets, much knowledge of ancient technology from their ancient world, along with wonderful machines.  They didn’t have mechanical skills to operate and repair these machines, something the Essenes had plenty of and provided. . . .  there was much anticipation of and preparation for the coming of the “Teacher of Righteousness.”

Here was a nuclear community whose collective consciousness was singularly minded in a radiant and stable core with a singular and shared purpose. What became of it is a very sad story in a dark chapter of the early history of Christianity.

ATLANTIS

Whether an allegory conjured up by Plato or real, Atlantis’s design was that of a nuclear community, only externally polarized in possessions, with all activities orienting around a central hub surrounded by terraces and motes.  The story has it that its collapse came at the peak of its industrial growth which was founded upon a materialistic mindset and dictatorial governance over the people.  According to the legend, their exploration into harnessing the nuclear energy of the sun using pyramid technology ended their “advanced” civilization in a catastrophic submergence under the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. 

There’s a lingering question as to whether or not Atlantis even existed. The short answer, according to DISCOVER Newsletter, is “No. All available evidence indicates that the philosopher Plato, sometime around 360 BCE, invented the island nation in order to illustrate a point about the dangers of aggressive imperialism. In Plato’s telling, Atlantis was no utopia. Rather, it was a foil for an idealized version of Athens from long before Plato’s time.  Archaeologists claim it did indeed exist and some say they have found the sunken island off the coast of Spain. Mark Adams writes: “It gave this sort of template that people could start to follow in decades to come.”³ 

OUR COSMIC COMMUNITY 

Another example of a configuration comprised of 13 celestial bodies is our solar system, which originally had twelve planets orbiting our star, making thirteen components in a creative dynamic.  Over eons of time that number was reduced in cataclysmic events to nine, creating yet another configuration involving ten participants in the nuclear community of our solar system.  So here we have a wheel of sorts with 9 spokes connecting our star Sol and his planetary satellites with the greater nuclear community of the Milky Way Galaxy through which we travel in time-space.  This new configuration altered the original vibrational dynamic and made life in the “fallen state” possible on Earth.  In common parlance, things are not as they used to be on the planet and with the solar system as a whole. 

Then we have the 12 zodiac signs our planet’s axis travels through over a Mayan Long-Count Calendar period of 2160 years—plus a 13th sign (Ophiuchus)² recently added to the circle.  Our calendar and time measurements are also based on the number 12.  Twelve months make up one year (12+1=13).  Twelve hours make up half a day; added to the other half we have 24 hours in 1 day.  (24+1=25; 2+5=7, another creative number).  

INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES

Finally, I want to revisit the excerpt from The Return of King Arthur in the previous post.  I was also engaged with the same Intentional Spiritual Community that Diana Durham wrote about for over thirty years, and I can attest to the sheer magic that manifested in its Attunement program.  I was part of a “World Blessing” team made up of an Attunement Master who provided a focal point at Sunrise Ranch, the program’s headquarters, and several other attunement servers located in various parts of the world, mostly in one or more of 12 Unit Centers located here and abroad.  Those times of “world blessing” were magical and powerfully uplifting.   

The “intention” of the Emissary communities was, and continues to be, to shine the light of divine being into the world by the expression of the many qualities of the Spirit of Love, such as thankfulness, patience and forgiveness.  “Never underestimate the power of spiritual expression” were words oft repeated in services. The full name of the ministry was Emissaries of Divine Light.

As Diana mentioned, after the passing of its spiritual focus, the program went through a transition from a developing spiritual organism to a transformational organization.  The majority of its membership dispersed into the larger world body to share their light and to receive and nurture the response from the field engendered by the ministry of its founder, Lloyd A. Meeker (Uranda) and his successor Lord Martin Exeter. All but a few of it’s Unit communities were disbanded. The remaining centers, including Sunrise Ranch, continue to provide a venue for conferences and retreats, as well as classes in true Self emergence and transformation,  both here and abroad. 

Coming into one’s own spiritual presence and authority, one’s authentic Self, is the gift of transformation, the Holy Grail of the knights’ quest.  When the individuals of a community lead forth in  the Spirit of Love, of Truth, and of Life, external leadership and authority are not necessary to maintain order, harmony, peace and safety.

In a word, a nuclear community is a community that is defined, not by its economy or diversity, but by Love.  Profound love for the Lord of Love, and unconditional love for one another.♥

This concludes the series on nuclear communities.  I open now to the Universe for guidance to the topic of my next blog.  Any thoughts you feel like sharing? I welcome them.  Just write me at my email address below.  Until my next post,

Be loving. Be loved.

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com 

Credits:  Western Wood Wagon Wheel, taken from Amazon’s webpage. 

¹Artistic rendition of Atlantis taken off the WEB at medium.com. 

² Ophiuchus is one of the 13 major constellations in the zodiac, according to ancient Babylonians. The Babylonians left it out of the zodiac because they followed the 12-month calendar and assigned the other 12 constellations, or zodiac signs, to different months. . . .  “People born under this sign (which would be anywhere between November 29 and December 17) are said to be mysterious, ambitious, and tend to make good impressions on authority figures—but that doesn’t mean they are totally grounded. They’re also said to be very passionate and power-hungry with a jealous streak.” It’s a fire sign in astrology, which is all about passion, action, and spirit.  (Bustle.com)

³Mark Adams, 2015, Meet Me in Atlantis: Across Three Continents in Search of the Legendary Sunken City.

 

The Historical Reason for the Season

“For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given . . . .  And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9;6)

(Click on Handle’s Messiah to enjoy the music)

A question that’s been around for some time now is: “Was Jesus born on December 25th?” The answer, according to Rabbi Jonathan Chan, is NO, Jesus was born in the Spring — “Nissan One”– in March or April, the only time of the year when shepherds would be out watching their flock at night when baby lambs are being born. It would also have been around the year 4 BC, the historical date when King Herod the Great died.  In case you are unfamiliar with the story, he was the king who ordered all the male infants two-years old and under killed after he learned from the Magi that a “king of the Jews” had been born.

(When you have 24 minutes to spare, click on the the Rabbi’s name above to view the entire compelling argument and historical, as well as astronomical and celestial evidence. He’s quite entertaining as well.)

I saw a post on Facebook a few days ago that the “Bethlehem Star” was seen back in June of 2015 for the first time in 2000 years—according to a CNN special report. The “star” is thought to be a brilliant phenomenon in the heavens created by a planetary conjunction involving Jupiter and Venus. There is also conjecture that the Star of Bethlehem could be a super nova, or a “gamma burst” as this clip demonstrates.

Well, there was such a “triple conjunction” on February 25 in the year 6 BC with the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars forming a triangle low in the western sky. This is when the “Three Kings” of the Magi saw “his star in the East” and proceeded to Bethlehem to see the newly-born child “King of the Jews” and to bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It apparently took them two years to reach their destination. So, we can remove the three kings from our Nativity Scene as they were not there yet. They can be put there on January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany, which commemorates the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi. 

The Real Reason for the Season

So, why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th? And what’s the real reason for the Season? Here’s what I found at Space.com:

In ancient times, Dec.  25 was the date of the lavish Roman festival of Saturnalia. It was a time when gifts were exchanged; homes, streets and buildings were decorated; people came home for the holidays and everybody was in a happy, party mood. 

It has been said that early Christians chose the date of the Saturnalia in order to avoid attention and thus escape persecution. When the Roman emperor Constantine officially adopted Christianity in the 4th century, the date of Christmas remained Dec. 25.

The real “reason for the Season,” then, is gift-giving, and in the Christian world, in celebration of the birth of Jesus, celebrated by Handle as “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”  (from Isaiah 9;6). It is said that after Handle finished composing this masterwork, he exclaimed “I have seen the face of God.” (Click on Handle to enjoy the music)

Thanks to the Romans, we can have a “White Christmas” in December, which we could not have in March or April.  How wonderfully perfect it all worked out!

LOVE IS BORN ANEW IN OUR HEARTS

Meister Eckhart saw the true meaning of Christmas when he penned these words:

Where is he who is born King of the Jews? Now concerning this birth, mark where it befalls. I say again, as I have often said before, that this birth befalls in the soul exactly as it does in eternity, neither more nor less, for it is the same birth: this birth befalls in the ground and essence of the soul. . . . God is in all things as being, as activity, as power.” 

Here’s something I would like to share with my readers during this year’s Holiday Season. It’s from “Daily OM” and written by Madysin Taylor:

Holding the holidays in your heart throughout the year it can be wonderfully transformative. Holidays and joy are two elements of our lives that are naturally intertwined. Traditional celebrations awaken within us an ardent desire to reconnect with the people we care about and to share our abundance. During the holiday season, we feel more driven to actively practice compassion, tolerance, selflessness, and gratitude. When we feel stressed, we find peace in the company of loved ones. And, filled with warm thoughts, we endeavor to ensure that others can share in our celebrations. Yet while happiness and holidays go hand in hand, the serenity and optimism that blossom within as we act on our festive feelings need not be relegated to a few days or weeks each year. We can carry the holiday spirit within us all year long if we make an effort to embrace a celebratory frame of mind no matter what the date.

Holding the holidays in your heart can be wonderfully transformative. Changing your life can be as simple as thinking about the uplifting activities you engage in and the positive attitudes you adopt during the holiday season and then integrating them into your daily life. If you learn to always be as open to wonder as you are around the holidays, the world will seem like a more magical place, whether it is December, March, or August. While holidays represent a great opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, there is little preventing you from reaching out to the people you care about throughout the year. The patience, compassion, goodwill, and tolerance you feel while celebrating can easily become a part of your everyday experience. Likewise, you will soon discover that the generous charitable gifts you give once a year mean just as much during other months and are often needed even more.

To remind yourself of your decision to carry the holiday spirit in your heart, consider displaying some small part of your holiday décor to signify your commitment. Remember that giving, whether your gifts are tangible or of the soul, always feels good, whatever the occasion. However you prefer to celebrate the holidays, practicing the ideals of the season every day means experiencing the beauty of the holiday season all year long.

We just finished watching the Global Citizen Prize television extravaganza this Friday evening — celebrating the world’s most inspiring activists — hosted by the exuberant John Legend.  What a huge release of love and compassion for humanity and care for the planet! What a reprieve from the daily national news! This is truly the “eleventh hour” and there’s so much more to be done to save our species and the natural world. It was so good to see and to honor with gratitude those who are leading forth in this effort and the much they have already done. God’s blessings upon them each one.

I leave you to  enjoy the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s offering of an excerpt from Handle’s Messiah.

And with that, I wish you all and each one a very Happy Holiday Season, a Blessed Solstice, and a healthy New Year in 2020.

Merry Christmas and “May God bless us each one.”

Anthony

Email: tpal70@gmail.com

 

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