Creating the New Earth Together

Posts tagged ‘Human Relations’

Rise of the Masculine In Men and Women

Taken 12/01/2012

For the past several decades, we have been experiencing the “Rise of the Feminine.” This resurgence of feminine energy in virtually all sectors of society — including the political sector, which has traditionally been dominated by men in both the congressional and the executive branches — is being met with much welcome and celebration by both women and men.  The infusion of estrogen into the bloodstream of the body politic has been a refreshing and nurturing reprieve from the testosterone-laden climate in Washington and elsewhere. Let’s face it, guys, the aggressive corporate male of our species has taken us down the industrial path to an existential crisis, according to climatologists — not that the shadow side of women’s wiles haven’t played their alluring part.  Both genders have let our shadow sides take the lead in human endeavors to achieve what we each want out of life.  Notwithstanding all of the competitive strife, we are encouraged, I believe, by the rising of the female of our species to help bring about a balance, and hopefully a change in our suicidal course toward extinction. The Masculine is rising alongside the Feminine. 

I take note of the fact that in virtually all situations where women are speaking out and taking on leadership roles, there are men present in the mix supporting them — which may well be being prompted by the rise of feminine energy is men, as we men are “getting in touch,” as we say, with own own femininity. So, I thought it timely, in the wake of my recent series on masculine-feminine energy, to acknowledge the Rise of the Masculine prior to and alongside the Rise of the Feminine, and perhaps see it in a new light.  It could well be that women are also experiencing the rise of their own Masculine energy while men are experiencing the rise of their Feminine energy.  Whatever the scenario, something of a balancing of these two energetic creative forces is trying to take place in the Human species. 

MASCULINE AND FEMININE Vs MALE AND FEMALE 

In these articles I have been capitalizing the words “Masculine” and “Feminine,” but not the words “male” and “female,” for the purpose of differentiating between energy and gender, a distinction I made in my last post.  For me, the words “Masculine” and “Feminine” represent the Divine creating energy of the Universal One Walter Russell writes about, which is shared in a co-creative partnership with Man, who was created both male and female. The words “male” and “female” represent the specific genders of our species, distinguished by our anatomical, chemical (hormonal), physical and psychological makeup.  

While I celebrate the men who have risen up with the women in support of their movement underway — a movement that is boldly ignoring the domineering male ego while giving women back their power and voice to speak and be heard and assume their rightful place in the forefront of human endeavors as equal partners in co-creation with men — I am also cognizant of the energetic factors at play behind the scene, so-to-speak, in the spiritual or vibrational levels of our Being, as well as in the larger galactic context. There is something much larger and grander afoot in the overall scheme of things than the rather miniscule “battle of the sexes” that’s been being waged for all too many centuries now.  It’s time we took a break from our competitive warring and put a listening ear to the shifting frequency of the harmonic Tone sounding in our galactic home among the stars.

We’re not just being invited to harmonize with this Tone, which is sounding the vibrational frequency of Love. We are being compelled to do so or perish. What we have created on Earth, and the way we have been behaving toward one another and toward our planet, can no longer be sustained by the Tone of Love — and the Tone of Love is what creates and sustains the Natural World, the Earth and our entire Universe.  Love has accommodated us thus far in our evolution from out of the cave world into which we tumbled in our fall from grace, but it is moving on in the larger cycles of planetary evolution and transformation, and we need to hurry and finish growing up in order to move on with it — and not as passive passengers but as active stewards of the evolution of our species and of our planet.  And, yes, that is a mouth full. 

So, a timely and compelling resurgence of both Masculine and Feminine energy is afoot, and it has nothing to do with women’s and men’s so-called “rights.” It’s much larger than that. It’s about the creation of a new world that is in harmony with the Tone of the Universal One and the Natural World itself.

THE RISE OF THE FEMININE IN MEN

The “Rise of the Feminine” is not so much or merely a women’s movement as it is a natural and timely movement of the Divine Feminine energy through the body of Mankind. In other words, the rise of the Divine Feminine is taking place in both genders of our species, in women and men alike, and it is doing so simultaneously with and in response to the rise of the creating force of the Divine Masculine.

It wasn’t too many years ago that we saw the “Men’s Movement” sweep through our species here in America and elsewhere. These two movements are taking place in both men and women, and they’re doing so at a time when the “New Earth” project is emerging from out of the “New Heaven” — something that men and women throughout the world have been welcoming into their consciousness yea these many, many years since the dawning of the “Age of Aquarius.”

If you’ve read my previous two posts — and if you haven’t then I would encourage you to do so — you will recall how Walter Russell describes the Masculine force of energy as the attractive, magnetic, contracting and integrating force of the Universe moving centripetally (inward) toward the apex of a spiraling vortex. The Feminine force he describes as the radiant, expelling and disintegrative force moving centrifugally (outward) from the apex of the same spiraling vortex of energy.  The Masculine builds up form while the Feminine dismantles form in a creative destructive process of clearing the deck, so-to-speak, for the creation of the next new form — only one of her more nurturing roles. This creative process is ongoing eternally at both the level of consciousness (cause) and the level of form (effect).  Mental constructs and outdated concepts and belief systems are discarded in this way.

We are experiencing such a discard now, along with a radical revision and transformation of our consciousness that is allowing us to invision new possibilities for life on Earth. To refer back to a Biblical prophecy, the “old heaven” and the “old earth” are passing away in our time, making room for a “New Heaven” and the “New Earth” to manifest. The image of the “New Jerusalem,” if you will, has descended down from God out of Heaven into the consciousness of enough human beings on earth to begin transforming our collective consciousness. We see it and feel it as a real possibility. 

It’s time for us to go to work now as equal partners in letting a New Earth and a New World be born — a vision and dream that was held by one of our own generation, the late Scott Peck, beloved author of “The Road Less Traveled” and “A World Waiting To Be Born” — whom I celebrate with profound gratitude.  The dream has been dreamt. The image is firmly planted in our consciousness, as Simon and Garfunkel sang out some years back when the cancerous “Silence” was being disturbed and broken and we began to speak our truth in poems, songs, books, blogs and demonstrations.

My wife Bonnie and I recently saw the movie Bohemian Rhapsody about the British rock band Queen and their amazing lead singer, Freddie Mercury, played by Remi Malek in an outstanding performance worthy of an Oscar. I don’t know if some of the film footage was of Queen’s actual concert at Knebworth in 1986 or not, the last time the four original members of Queen performed on stage together and when they sang that powerful mantra “We Are The Champions” with the crowd. Over a million people attended that Queen tour, one of the largest ever, which was part of a global “Aids Benefit” for the famine in Ethiopia involving several bands in various locations. But the sight and sound of so many young people our age all gathered in one place and in one accord was heart stopping.  A shift took place in the way I have been viewing rock concerts, which are not my “cup of tea.” I prefer good jazz and the classics. 

Such gatherings have been taking place at concerts all over the world for several decades, and I now see how their “rock” sounds have been instrumental in shattering the silence of the youthful masses, along with the stigmas attached to AIDS and homosexuality, among other fixations in the collective consciousness. They have literally rocked the foundations of our culture and disrupted the status quo.  It is perhaps telling how Freddie and several others in his circle of male friends became confused about their own sexual orientation, feeling the emergence of their femininity, which I felt was given rise by the music they were writing and singing. 

But what I also see in all of this is the Feminine force at work clearing out the old to make room for the new. I see a  phenomenon that speaks loudly and clearly that we very much want a new world on the face of our planetary home — and even more obvious, that we have the energy and the power in our hearts to create it — and God knows we have the technology.  

THE RISE OF SPIRIT

What we are witnessing and experiencing in our time is the rise of Spirit from within the heart of Humanity — which is the Heart of God incarnate on this planet. It is Love that is drawing us to each other and gathering us in concerts and demonstrations — and also in relationships. Let there be no wavering or doubt that Love is in charge and moving us all into position to do our part each one in revisioning and transforming the consciousness of Humanity by bringing our individual spirits and gifts into the process of creating the New Earth. We simply need to let love command — an unconditional love that “keeps no record of wrong,” as novelist Ted Bekker describes love in his book The Rise of the Mystics, which I just finished reading,  I am finding this kind of love a challenge to have consistently in my heart — and it is the heart that keeps record of wrong.  “Let it go” the song in Frozen sings out.  “Let it go!” I tell my heart.

This morning my wife asked me what I thought these recent blogs are all about, and, more pointedly, what I have learned in writing them. We were having one of those heart-rending moments couples have when love is asking for more and deeper change yet. Perhaps, after some personal reflection and introspection, that could be the content of my next blog — and why not? I have indeed learned much, about myself and about my partner.  I have also learned something about human behavior and the greater potential of success and harmony available to us as co-creators on this beautiful planet Earth, pregnant with life yet to be born, nurtured and stewarded by men and women in partnership with one another in Love’s embrace.  

I sincerely thank you for sharing my thoughts and views . . . and I would love sharing yours.  So, email me at tpal70@gmail.com.  Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved,

Anthony 

 

“Fifth Way” Love: A Romantic Path to Transformation

I will open this post with the excerpt from Cynthia Bourgeault’s signature work, The Meaning of MARY MAGDALENE – Discovering The Woman at the Heart of Christianity – with which I closed my previous post, and will continue quoting her commentary in its entirety. She quotes here a passage from the Gospel of Philip:

“The one who creates objects works outwardly in the external world. The one who labors in secret, however, works within the icon, hidden inwardly from others. The one who creates make objects visible to the world. The one who conceives gives birth to children in the Realm of the Unseen.”

In this complex distinction . . . Philip insists that begetting must come “from above”. . . .  It requires a free and conscious regeneration in the Spirit. “Begotten” is an alchemy in which spirit actively participates, and its fruit is the anthropos, or completed human being. 

THE SPIRITUAL KISS THAT BEGETS

From Philip’s point of view, then, lineal descendents of Jesus, even if they existed, would not be “anointed ones,” unless this claim were to be validated by their own spiritual transformation. The kingdom over which the Anointed One reigns is beyond the space/time continuum and cannot be inherited lineally (that technicality consistently overlooked in the literal-mindedness of The Da Vinci Code); it can be entered only by becoming a new kind of human being–what Philip actually describes as “a new race of human be­ings . . . . Only true sons and daughters can gain immortality,” he writes in analogue 56, “and no one can gain it without becoming a true son and daughter.” Progeny cannot be fashioned out of flesh and blood; they are the fruit of an alchemy of consciousness.

Philip makes it clear that this is the kind of spiritual procreation that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were chiefly about. As we discussed in chapter 10, his symbol for this type of richly engendering spiritual love is the kiss, which (as is universally the case throughout the Near Eastern culture) is seen as a sign not of sexual attraction but of spiritual begetting. When he indicates in analogue 37 that “the Master loved her more than the other students and many times would kiss her on the mouth,” he is not describing an illicit romance but rather a sacred exchange of their deeply commingled beings. The spiritual kiss is the symbol par excellence of Fifth Way love.

From a Fifth Way standpoint, this kind of intense and trans­forming love, “which is really the birth-pangs of union at a higher plane,” will indeed bear fruit. But the fruit may not be human children so much as an energetic sphere of pure creativity, in which reality is touched at the core and love itself is the progeny.

As analogue 66 points out, “The one who creates objects [i.e., literal offspring] works outwardly in the external world. The one who labors in secret, however, works within the icon, hidden in­wardly from others.” In other words, the work goes on at the imaginal (or causal) level, and its potency is made manifest not by producing new people but by engendering transformed people­ giving birth to children “in the Realm of the Unseen,” in the words of the text. (Underscores mine)

“FIFTH WAY LOVE”:  AN EROTIC PATH TO TRANSFORMATION

The “Fifth Way” is a spiritual path based on relationship. Cynthia Bourgeault calls it “conscious love” rather than “tantric love” so as not to put a stumbling block before her parishioners. She is an Episcopal priest whose passion is to restore the romantic love affair between Jesus and Mary Magdalene as the center piece at the heart of Christianity. The term itself is a deliberate spin-off from George Gurdjieff’s “Fourth Way,” the “Way of the Conscious Man.” Boris Mouravieff (d.1966), a little known Russian esotericist who studied Gurdjieff’s system intimately, coined the phrase and used it in his three-volume Gnosis to represent “courtly love as a spiritual path and of the way of transformation through mystical union with one’s ‘polar being.'” Cynthia’s comment:

“While he [Mouravieff] stops short of saying that Jesus and Mary Magdalene practiced this path, he makes it clear that its headwaters lie deep within the marrow of Christianity itself, and he insists that it represents “The purest and most sublime realization of the Christian spiritual path.” 

THE “SONG OF SONGS”

More commonly known in Protestant circles as “The Song of Solomon, Bourgeault associates this erotic book of the Old Testament Bible with Mary Magdalene, seeing it as an ancient testament to the practice of “Fifth Way Love.” I will share my favorite passage from the Biblical texts and then offer a commentary on it. The song opens with the kiss that begets love:

The song of songs, which is Solomon’s. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. 

Because of the savour of thy goof ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee…. 

The voice of my beloved! Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.

My beloved spake, and said unto me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.  Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Our winter is currently at the door in mid October, not a time to be leaping and skipping. Perhaps, then, we could see this passage metaphorically as describing the nature and character of Life itself and of the Beloved who abides within us each one, peaking out through the windows of our eyes and showing himself through the lattice of our veiled and guarded hearts. The Beloved is always there, “standing behind our wall,” when our world gets dark and seemingly impossible to navigate.  Always there to turn to for assurance that all is well and as it should be. Always there to love in passionate embrace and simply say: “I love you with all of my heart, with all of my mind, and with all of my body. With Solomon I sing . . .

Place me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. Strong as Death is love; intense as Sheol is its ardor. Its shafts are shafts of fire, flames of Yah (Yahweh). Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away.”

AN UNLIKELY BIBLICAL TEXT

Like Mary Magdalene herself, the Song of Songs has had a long his­tory of both admirers and detractors. It has been called, with some justification, “the most unbiblical book in the whole Bible,” and there are those who feel that its inclusion in among the wisdom writings of the Old Testament was a grand mistake. But others see it as nothing short of scripture’s mystical highpoint, an inexhaustible fountainhead of beauty and spiritual wisdom. Among this latter group was Rabbi Aqiba (d. 135), one of the most influential of the early rabbinic commentators, whose celebrated words eventually carried the day: “All the ages are not worth the day on which it was written for all the writings are holy, but the Song is the Holy of Holies.”

At the heart of all this consternation, as you might expect, is the fact that this text is a love song–and not just a mild-mannered, “spiritual” love song, but an unabashed celebration of erotic pleasure. From its opening salvo, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” to its parting affirmation, “Love is as strong as death,” it never breaks stride, In eight canticles of stunningly evocative imagery, it sings the glories of carnal desire in exquisite and scintillating detail. 

KENOTIC LOVE

Kenosis is the act of emptying oneself, a characteristic applied, by Paul specifically, to the path that Jesus took in his life of service. It was the path Mother Theresa took and other saintly souls.  Cynthia writes: 

As Paul so profoundly realizes, self-emptying is the touchstone, the core reality underlying every moment of Jesus’s human journey. Self-emptying is what  brings him into human form, and self-emptying is what leads him out, returning him to the mode of glory. The full realization of Jesus’s divine selfhood [our divine Selfhood] comes not through concentration of being, but through voluntary divestment of it. . . . Stripping oneself and standing naked: this is the essence of the kenotic path.

KENOSIS IN THE FIFTH WAY

We have already seen that kenosis is the tie-rod of Jesus’s entire teaching, connecting the inner and outer realms of our human experience in a single, unified gesture. “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13) is one of his most celebrated dictums. But when that “friend” happens also to be one’s uniquely beloved, one’s romantic partner or spouse, kenotic practice takes on a particularly intense and even a sacra­mental character. This is because the root energy it works with is the transformative fire of eros, the energy of desiring. That messy, covetous, passion-ridden quicksilver of all creation is tamed and transformed into a substance of an entirely different order, and the force of the alchemy accounts for both the efficiency of this path and its terrifying intensity.

Vladimir Solovyov, that great nineteenth-century philosopher of love, was among the first to grasp the enormous implica­tion of this point, which defines both the modality of the Fifth Way and its ultimate destination:

The meaning and worth of love. .. is that it really forces us, with all our being, to acknowledge for another the same ab­solute central significance which, because of the power of our egoism, we are conscious of only in our own selves. Love is important not as one of our feelings, but … as the shifting of the very center of our personal lives. This is characteristic of every kind of love, but predominantly of sexual love [erotic love]; it is distinguished from other kinds of love by greater intensity, by a more engrossing character, and by the possibil­ity of a more complete overall reciprocity. Only this love can lead to the real and indissoluble union of two lives into one; only of it do the words of Holy Writ say: “They shall be one flesh,” that is, shall become one real being.

In the path of “Fifth Way Love,” as Cynthia Bourgeault presents it in her book, and as she portrays the intimate companionship of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, the eros is transformed and transmuted to a higher level so as to become an erotically ecstatic bridge between the physical and the spiritual worlds, making the oneness of heaven and earth an actual and tangible experience.  The ultimate transformation takes place between “polar beings” who become one blended substance, so that one cannot tell where the boundaries of one’s own body stops and the other’s begins. For there is no “other” and no boundaries. There is only the One I Am.  

We will shift gears in my next post, leaving the realm of the “Holy of Holies” to explore the mysteries of the Universe–as Walter Russell understands and explains them anyway. We are in for a profoundly intellectual roller coaster ride. So, sharpen your mental focus before you read my next post. The theme will remain in the domain of the masculine and feminine energies at work within us and throughout the illusory universe.  Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

 

On Human Relations . . . . part 6: The Path of Romantic Love, page 4

My Chorale PicIn chapter seven of her powerful book MARY MAGDALENE – Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity, “Reclaiming the Path of Romantic Love,” Episcopal minister Cynthia Bourgeault paints a much different picture of the spiritual path Jesus walked than the one painted by Christian orthodox interpretations of the four gospels. Continuing from where we left off in the previous post, Cynthia speaks to the question “Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene lovers.” I will let you read directly from the final two pages of this chapter.

Having described Jesus’s spiritual path as being anything but celibate, an “enstatic” path of conserving pranic energy, Cynthia makes her case against traditional Christian concepts and beliefs to the contrary.

By contrast, the path that Jesus himself seems to teach and model in his life, and particularly in his death, is not a storing up but a complete pouring out. His pranic energy is quickly depleted; on the cross, as all four gospel account affirm, he does not hold out even until sunset, but quickly “gives up the ghost.” Shattered and totally spent, he simply disappears into his death. The core icon of the Christian faith, the watershed moment from which it all emerges, is not enstatic but ecstatic — love completely poured out, expended, squandered. In contrast to clarity, it is the arche­typal image of purity, the complete self-giving of the heart.

THE PATH JESUS WALKED

And right here, I believe, we come to the fundamental problem with these celibate models of transformation. It’s not merely their monochromatic viewpoint or the implicit devaluing of a whole other stream of Christian spiritual wisdom whose roots are in passionate human love. Rather, it is the fact that at key points they seem to be slightly out of kilter with the path of transformation that Jesus himself walked and taught. One might say that this model points us toward John the Baptist rather than Jesus: to­ward those ancient and time-honored practices of renunciation, asceticism, and self-concentration through abstinence, whereas if we really look closely, we see that Jesus himself seemed to be con­stantly pushing the envelope in the opposite direction — toward radical self-abandonment, reckless self-outpouring, and the trans­mutation of passion in complete self-giving.

But it is right there, at the center of that cognitive dissonance, that a window of opportunity opens up. Rather than trying to smooth it over and pretend it does not exist, as the church has done for nearly two thousand years, we need to tune in and listen to it very carefully, for it gives us exactly the tool we need to proceed.

Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene lovers? To date, nearly everyone seems to be trying to solve that riddle from the outside, like good investigative journalists. It’s all about finding new evi­dence: secret documents and societies, new gnostic gospels, purported lost tombs, hidden mathematical messages embedded in the lines of existent texts — some new piece of data that would settle the issue one way or another. Equally, those who are ap­palled by the very notion of a romantically involved Jesus build their case by recourse to doctrines and templates that did not exist until three or four centuries after he had left the planet. It’s all external logic.

But there is another possibility, which has been sitting there right under our noses all along yet so far seems to have been consistently overlooked. That is to evaluate the evidence from the inside, on the basis of the path itself. For Jesus was, after all, a teacher, and the teaching itself is there to be consulted. Once one has compensated for the negative set and drift of the celibate current, it is merely a matter of asking a single question: In the light of what Jesus actually seems to have been teaching, is there anything in the teachings themselves that would have precluded such a love relationship?

If Jesus were indeed walking the path of classic monastic brahmacharya, then the answer is obviously yes; celibacy is an essential requirement of this path, and to diverge from this requirement would violate his integrity and sabotage his spiritual power.

But what if in fact he was walking a different path? A path difficult to identify because it was so close to its own headwaters that it was missed by nearly everyone both then and now? What if he was not an ascetic at all, but was in fact following a whole new trajectory, previously unknown in the West and with its own ways of understanding integrity and purity? Along this other trajec­tory, it might indeed be conceivable for him to be in a human love relationship, although that love would probably not look like what most of us are familiar with.

Let’s see what the teachings themselves have to say.

Thus ends chapter seven with a segue to chapter eight, and to the rest of Cynthia’s provocative treatise, for that matter. The title of chapter eight is “The Great Identity Theft.” Who was Jesus and how was his presentation of himself perceived by the world he came to save from itself?  There are two brief paragraphs midway through this chapter that speak to these questions.

In the Aramaic language of Jesus’s immediate followers, one of the earliest titles given to him was Ihidaya, “the Single One,” or the “Unified One.” In context, it speaks unmistakably of this state of inner oneness; it designates the anthropos, the fully realized human being: the enlightened master of Eastern tradition, or the monad or “undivided one” of hermeticism.

The “great identity theft” to which the title of this chapter refers is that in remarkably short order this term, which was so clearly intended to designate Jesus’s attained state of inner oneness, should come to be interpreted as “singleness” in the sense of being unmarried, “the celibate one.”

Jesus was not necessarily monastic nor ascetic, which leaves him available to a romantic relationship. Actually, according to Islamic scholar Ibrahim Gamard, monasticism was not mandated by the Koran. In a letter to the author in 1998, Gamard shared the insight that “in the Islamic tradition monasticism was disapproved of in the Qur’anic verse which states that the monasticism of the followers of Jesus was invented by them and was not something commanded by God.” As I said, this leaves Jesus with the option at least of having a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene as his wife and partner in a shared service to Humanity: personal transformation via a path of romantic love.

I will leave it there for now and continue with “The Path that Jesus Walked” in my next post . . . . or not. This series seems to be complete, so I may let this be the concluding post to the series on Human Relations. We’ll see what the Current of Inspiration brings us for exploration. Thanks for sharing this consideration with me. As always, your comments are welcome.  Until my next post,

Be love. Be Loved

Anthony

Read my Health Light Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com for helpful information about health and wellness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Human Relations . . . . . part 6: The Path of Romantic Love, page 3

“Without the quicksilver of eros nothing transforms . . .”

My Chorale PicIn the previous post I presented and considered the first two of four propositions, or myths, that are all “firmly rooted in the soil of celibate spirituality–that together have subtly sabotaged our ability to see romantic love as an authentic path of spiritual transformation” presented by Cynthia Bourgeault in her boldly provocative book The Meaning of MARY MAGDALENE — Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity.  In this post I will present and consider the third and fourth myths and share some of Cynthia’s thought provoking views and commentary from her book — which I highly recommend to my readers.

Myth Number Three: Human love is inherently different from divine love

This is what has been handed down through Christian church teachings. Actually, it was Plato who classified love by types: agape and eros — although he didn’t attribute agape exclusively to divine love nor eros exclusively to human love. After all, the Greeks had their riotous gods who were capable of both human and divine passions. Rather, agape love to Plato was impartial, disinterested love and eros desiring love, which both the gods and humans were capable of experiencing. Plato’s delineation, non-the-less, set the foundation for such discussions for two-and-a-half millennia since, writes Cynthia Bourgeault.

It was a Swedish Protestant theologian in the 1930’s by the name of Anders Nygren who relegated eros to human desiring. His “monumental” three-volume work Agape and Eros, in which he writes “eros is man’s way to God; agape is God’s way to man,” had a powerful and pervasive influence on contemporary Christian spirituality. Cynthia writes:

According to Nygren, eros is by its very nature filled with desire and neediness, hence impure; by contrast, God’s way of loving is free, clear and impartial, motivated only by the goodness of the giver. With one deft stroke of the theological scalpel, Nygen essentially divided the core energy of love into two separate species and assigned to erotic love (the only love humans are by definition capable of) a permanent second-class status that essentially negates its value as a spiritual path. It is hard to escape the implication that if one is following a path of passionate commitment to a beloved, one is on an inferior spiritual track, or no track at all. This despite love’s unassailable record as the most potent force at our disposal to unify the heart and transform the soul.

Fortunately, the damaging pronouncements of Nygren has impacted only the modern era. Earlier generations of Christian teachers considered eros a “wellspring” of transforming energy that one simply had to learn to work with in one’s spiritual path. Cynthia quotes John Climacus’ sixth-century writings to exemplify this historical fact:

“I have seen impure souls who threw themselves headlong into physical eros to a frenzied degree. It was their very experience of that physical eros that led them to interior conversion. They concentrated their eros on the Lord. Rising above fear, they tried to love God with insatiable desire. That is why when Christ spoke to the woman who had been a sinner he did not say that she had been afraid but that she had loved much, and had easily been able to surmount love by love.”

The goal of “surmounting love by love” for a thousand years formed the heart of the Christian mystical program of transformation, culminating in the twelfth century in the magnificent “monastic love mysticism” of St Bernard of Clairvax and those following in his wake (and notice that whenever eros is mentioned in a text, the figure of Mary Magdalene hovers right in the background). To the extent that it still conceives of God as an object that one can “concentrate one’s eros” on, it ultimately falls victim of that same dualistic fallacy we have already seen in the first myth. But it is far, far better than what has been served up today in the name of religious and psychological health; a gutless, passionless numb “agape clone” that goes nowhere at all. Without the quicksilver of eros nothing transforms: a secret which I believe Jesus himself knew and worked with in his teachings in a profound way, only at a unitive rather than a dualistic level.

Now, of course, if you were fortunate enough to escape such indoctrination in your upbringing, then none of this serves you very much, excerpt perhaps as an educational piece at an intellectual level. I am intrigued by perspectives on historical events that shed light on the path I have traveled over the last seventy plus years. You see, I was born into a Catholic family, groomed for a priestly vocation — which was more my father’s desire for me than my own — and educated in the hallowed halls of Roman Catholic seminary. Only the halls of Catholic seminary were not so hallowed as they were hollow and empty of any transforming energy. Eros was a path to a life of mortal sin, the punishment for which was eternal damnation and separation from God. So, it thrills me to have someone like Cynthia Bourgeault articulate so eloquently some of the undercurrents that were churning beneath the turbulent and confusing terrain upon which I spent the formative and developing years of my life, as well as their origins in history.

Don’t worry for me, however, for the Church’s brain-washing, for some strange reason, seemed like water poured over a duck’s back. It didn’t penetrate the core of me. My guardian angel was apparently protecting me. However, I did not escape the damage to my human psyche and the spoiling of my physical enjoyment of a fully enfleshed life of healthy sexuality as a young man. That came later after awakening to the truth of love and of life.

But enough about me. Let’s look at the fourth myth, the one that lured me into the seminary and, ironically, disillusioned me at the age of 21 and sent me in search for the truth of love in human relations, both with the divine and with one another, a search that would last only seven years. Let me share some of her thoughts and perspectives right from her powerful book.

Myth Number Four: Celibacy is a state of greater purity.

The mistake here–and it is one commonly made in spiritual teaching — is to confuse purity with clarity. Clarity has to do with attuning the mind. Purity is about awakening the heart. The two can overlap each other, but they are not synonymous.

I enjoy her distinction between purity and clarity. She goes on to give a little history of the practice of celibacy.

In Hinduism, where the practice of celibacy as an applied spiritual technology (known as brahmacharya)  arose more than three thousand years ago, the objective has to do with conserving and concentrating prana, the vital energy or life force, so that it can be utilized for spiritual transformation. The modern Hindu master Swami Chidananda has restated the traditional wisdom by explaining it in this way: “Prana is the precious reserve of the seeker. Any sense activity or sense experience consumes a lot of prana [the sex act most of all, he claims] . . . The highest of all goals in life, spiritual attainment, requires the maximum pranic energy on all levels.”

For Swami Chidananda, the practice of celibacy harnesses pranic energy much like a dam harnesses the force of water for the purpose of turning huge turbines, and like a lens concentrates the rays of the sun to burn whatever they are focused on. Cynthia continues:

In the most ancient and powerful understanding of the practice, celibacy belongs among practices that can be classified as enstatic — those that have to do with conserving, collecting, concentrating. The positive side of this kind of practice is a significantly enhanced clarity — a relative freedom from the energy-consuming turmoil of the physical lusts and emotional passions and thus a greater capacity to stay present to the higher frequencies of spiritual energy.

For exactly this reason — that celibacy is a “storing up” process — its shadow side is avarice. One must be alert to a subtle tendency to withhold or “preserve”oneself, to hold oneself back from full engagement in the human sphere in order to have access to those higher realms of truth and light. Under all the aura of “selfless giving” with which the practice of celibacy generally cloaks itself, there can be a subtle spiritual acquisitiveness at work, betrayed in the very phrase “spiritual attainment.” Which “I,” one wonders, is this “I” who attains?

Cynthia gives her reader pause to consider what’s really at work in spiritual attainment. She then turns toward the life and death of Jesus in a most remarkable portrayal of him as being anything but enstatic in his public ministry.

By contrast, the path that Jesus himself seems to teach and model in his life, and particularly in his death, is not a storing up but a complete pouring out. His pranic energy is quickly depleted; on the cross, as all four gospel accounts affirm, he does not hold out even until sunset, but quickly “gives up the ghost.” Shattered and totally spent, he simply disappears into his death. The core icon of the Christian faith, the watershed moment from which it all emerges, is not enstatic but ecstatic — love completely poured out, expended squandered. In contrast to clarity, it is the archetypal image of purity, the complete self-giving of the heart.

Such is the character of unconditional love: “. . .the complete self-giving of the heart.” This reminds me of Jesus’s words to his disciples during his sermon on the vine and the branches: “Greater love hast no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”  He was giving them all that he had to give, and for a truly selfless reason: “. . . that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:13)

The joy of giving fully of oneself is like no other joy.  It’s a joy that utterly sets one free. This, I believe, is what’s really behind the mad rush to buy presents for loved ones and friends at Christmas time every year. We do get much joy out of giving.  I’ve actually read of a tribal community where there is no word in their language for “Thank you.” Such is their awareness that the pleasure and joy of giving are the giver’s as much as, if not more than, the receiver’s. I love Cynthia’s portrayal of this great Teacher as one who spent himself fully during his three-and-a-half years of public ministry. It is the Jesus that I can easily hold as a hero and model of true manhood.

In my next post I will share Cynthia Bourgeault’s view of and commentary on “The Path Jesus Walked.” So, stay tuned for more inspiring posts on my Healing Tones blog.

Wishing for you a Happy New Year and a healthy and happy 2016!

Anthony

Read my HealthLight Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com.

 

 

On Human Relations . . . . . part 6: The Path of Romantic Love, page 2

My Chorale PicFar from keeping one earthbound, romantic love, not celibacy, was exemplified and touted by Jesus as the highest path to spiritual enlightenment and union with the divine. From the very Genesis we were created male and female so that through our union as one flesh we could bring forth life. That was the original template.  We’ve obviously altered and thwarted the original template for the creation of human beings and produced a species of human doings who put achieving ahead of being and compete with one another in a “battle of the sexes.”

I’m in my second reading of THE MEANING OF MARY MAGDALENE – The Woman at the Heart of Christianity, a most provocative book written by episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault, in which she weaves the scenario of a romantic human relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. That alone should give you a clue about its provocative subject matter. To write this series of posts I dove right into the book to share poignant excerpts from chapter seven: “Reclaiming the Path of Romantic Love.”

In my last post I left my blog followers and readers with four options offered by the author to consider and choose from. They are:

1. That Mary Magdalene was Jesus’s mistress;

2. That theirs was a politically arranged marriage, strictly for dynastic purposes;

3. That they were sexual consorts in some Gnostic Mystery religion, ritually reenacting the sacred hieros gamos, or union of the opposites;

4. That the whole story is purely archetypal, a great Sophianic myth depicting the integration of the masculine and feminine within the human soul.”

I chose the third option. Here’s what Cynthia offers:

Sex, power, cult, or myth: not a great set of choices.  I have yet to see considered what in a sexually healthy culture would surely seem to be the obvious possibility: that they were faithful beloveds, whose lives were joined together in a fully enfleshed human love which was a source of strength and nurturance for both of them; which far from diminishing their spiritual integrity, deepened and fulfilled it. Why is it so hard to go there?  Well, obviously: because that is the one possibility our celibate template will not allow us to consider.

The “celibate template” of which she speaks is the scenario handed down to us by a patriarchal church and its celibate priesthood that portrays Jesus as a celibate bachelor, who had a virgin birth, and who gave himself utterly and completely to God and his mission without the “distraction” and high maintenance of a human relationship. Obviously, human sexuality has been a problem for the church for the past two-thousand years.

In this post, I will present the author’s four “propositions” or “myths”– all “rooted in the soil of celibate spirituality — that together have subtly sabotaged our ability to see romantic love as an authentic path of spiritual transformation.” Handed down as “gospel truth,” these myths in fact have “little or no scriptural authorization in the teachings of Jesus himself but instead draw their credibility entirely from the circular logic of his presumed celibacy.”

MYTH NUMBER ONE — Celibacy is the preferred means of giving oneself entirely to God

This myth as been promulgated and fostered by the church almost from the beginning of priesthood and monastic life.

Like so much else in church’s teachings on human sexuality, its scriptural origins lie in Paul’s oft-cited admonition, “The unmarried man cares for the Lord’s business; his aim is to please the Lord. But the married man cares for worldly things; his aim is to please his wife; and he has a divided mind” (Corinthians 7:33). Clearly this is a highly effective recruitment tactic for the religious life. Virtually every Christian monastic I know has entered upon the vocation espousing some variation of Thomas Merton’s impassioned outpouring: “I want to give God everything.” Of course, from an operational standpoint Paul is quite correct: being in partnership makes the logistics of spiritual discipleship a good deal more complicated.

But the theology underlying this principle, if you really consider it, is monstrous. In fact, it seems to be saying that the wholehearted love of God and the wholehearted love of another human being cannot coincide; as our love for a particular human being increases, our love for God is proportionately diminished. Not only is this a theological nightmare; it is also a flat-out contradiction of Jesus’s own dual commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Whatever the difficulty in juggling these sometimes contradictory demands, collapsing the tension between them is not an option.

I love her articulate way of stating the obvious in her writing style.  What she writes next, and the way she turns the usual perspective on its head, sends a delightful burst of sunshine into my heart:

The real solution to this paradox, I believe, comes in the gradual discovery that one cannot love God as an object. God is always and only the subject of love.  God is that which makes love possible, the source from which it emerges and the light by which it is recognized. Thus, “love of God” is not one love among others, not love for a particular “one” to whom my saying “yes” requires that I say “no” to another. Rather, God is the all-encompassing One who unlocks and sustains my ability to give myself fully to life in all its infinite particularity, including the excruciating particularity of a human beloved.

. . . God is the divine giving, who flows out and through our human expression to manifest love in all its fullness.  And so the way to give oneself fully to God would be to give fully of oneself

MYTH NUMBER TWO — Love divides the heart

The notion that erotic love divides the heart is so deeply engrained in monastic spiritual formation that renunciation becomes not only the imperative course of action but even a spiritual opportunity: the direct route to spiritual wholeness. The modern Jesuit John S. Dunne reflects this traditional view when he writes: “If I set my heart upon another person, then I cannot live without that person. My heart becomes divided. On the other hand, if I give my life to the journey with God, then my heart becomes whole and I can be whole in relationship with another.’ [Dunne, Reasons of the Heart].

. . . And yet the question remains: does love divide the heart? If God is considered an object of one’s love vying with other objects, then the crucial premise on which this theology hangs is true: yes, love would divide the heart. But if God is the subject of love, the place from which love emerges, then one could more reliably claim—as poets, mystics, and lovers have claimed throughout the ages—that love does not divide the heart, but is in fact the sole force strong enough to unite it. What divides the heart is not the love relationship itself but the passions: the strong emotions and shadow side that are always present when love runs strong. But these are not grounds for renunciation; rather, they are grounds for purification.

This story Cynthia shares next my wife and I can personally relate to, as she has spent the larger part of this year undergoing chemo therapy for breast cancer. Our hearts have been opened wider by this crisis so that we have been able to easily and gratefully give fully of ourselves to one another in a mutually loving and caring way. We have both been transformed in this challenging crisis so that we don’t see cancer as an enemy to fight against and conquer. Rather, by embracing it, the tumor has become a messenger bringing us an opportunity to grow spiritually and more intimately together in life . . . as well as to realize how many wonderful friends we have surrounding us and holding us in their love and prayers.

In closing this consideration, Cynthia writes:

What this purification might look like is captured with wrenching power in the memoir “Grace and Grit” by the contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber. In this remarkable autobiography he shares the story of his own love and transformation as he and his wife . . . wage a five-year battle against her ultimately fatal breast cancer. As their ordeal intensifies, one watches them each being melted down and refashioned in the refiner’s fire of their love for each other. Egotism, clinging, resentment—and other, darker shadows—rise to the surface and are released. Particularly in the last six months of [her] life, Wilber writes, “We simply and directly served each other, exchanging self for other, and therefore glimpsing that eternal spirit which transcends self and other, both ‘me’ and ‘mine’”

If this sounds like something you recall Jesus saying in the gospels, you’re right.

I do enjoy Cynthia’s style of writing and her bold expression of truth in the face of her own congregation and of the larger religious field in which she ministers. Fearless is perhaps the appropriate word to describe her writing. She is clearly in love with love leaving no room for fear of criticism and sanction.

The next two myths: “Human love is inherently different from divine love” and “Celibacy is a state of greater purity” I will leave for the next post. See you in a couple of weeks. Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

Read my Health Light Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com. 

On Human Relations, . . . . . part 6: The Path of Romantic Love

My Chorale PicAn intimate, romantic, and sexual relationship with another human being, far from distracting one from spiritual attainment, can open a fast-track path to spiritual transformation: the path of romantic love.

This path is cluttered with signposts bearing moral Christian doctrines that warn of a sinful destination for those who seek erotic pleasure in natural sex drives that were designed to bring couples into a state of ecstatic union, along with the function of propagating the human species — sex solely for gratification not withstanding. The church is solely responsible for the degradation of sex from sacrament to sin in human relations, using Jesus, the celibate divine redeemer, and Mary Magdalene, the human “sinful prostitute,” as models upon which to base its thwarted and therefore false premise.

I’m in my second reading of Cynthia Bourgeault’s profoundly insightful and thought-provoking, if not controversial, rendering of  “The Meaning of MARY MAGDALENE – DISCOVERING THE WOMAN AT THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY.”

This is unequivocally the most powerful book I have yet read on the story of Mary Magdalene and her role in the life and ministry of Jesus. The author, an Episcopal priest, literally plumbs the depth of my soul and awakens dreams of a “perfect world,” almost to the point of disturbing my default inner peace by arousing once again that painfully familiar longing for a seemingly unattainable state of “singleness” as a whole human being — ironically, a singleness that can only be obtained, according to her insight and perspective, in the state of holy matrimony. Cynthia’s Jesus came to “reclaim the path of romantic love” and to uplift marriage between a man and a woman to its original state of “one flesh” that no man can “put asunder”– and he walked his talk. He was not celibate by any connotation of that word. Nor did he recommend celibacy as the higher path to spiritual transformation. His was a life fully “enfleshed” as a whole human being, and that’s what made him such a powerful magnet and lightning rod. The people loved him for his authenticity. The governing religious leaders of that time hated him for the same reason.  Actually, in their gross darkness, they simply did not comprehend his light, and it frightened them and threatened their self-serving authority.

This book has a Voice. One that speaks from out of the ancient past, spanning time from the “beginning”– the Edenic origins of Man and Woman — up to and including the life, public ministry and death of Jesus the Nazarene, only not the Jesus introduced to us when we were children and foisted upon the Christian world since the fourth century Council of Nicea.  Cynthia’s Jesus is a whole human being who “emptied” himself fully of both his humanity and his divinity, leaving no part of his soul and body unused in service to his heavenly Father and to Humankind. And it was his intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene to which Cynthia attributes the fulfillment of his mission and purpose for incarnating on the planet when he did. I should say the fulfillment of their shared mission and purpose.

That said, I don’t think that I can do Cynthia’s book justice in a blog-long book review. So, with the thought in mind that my readers may be inspired to read Cynthia’s book to fully enjoy her viewpoint on these timely issues, I will simply share a few passages from her book that moved my soul to the point of shouting “YES! That rings so true!” I will share and comment on them as they come up in my second reading. Enjoy and be blessed.

I will start at the beginning of Chapter 7, “RECLAIMING THE PATH OF ROMANTIC LOVE,” just to give you a sense of the tone of Cynthia’s voice, along with the context in which she writes. Here she speaks to the issue of celibacy in a priesthood supposedly modeled after Jesus and his celibate apostles — or were they?

NEARLY TWENTY YEARS ago, long before The Da Vinci Code uproar broke, I was serving as parish priest in a small Episcopal congregation in Colorado. When the gospel appointed for one particular Sunday in August was Luke’s account of that anonymous “sinful” woman with her alabaster jar, I decided to take the risk of breaking open some of the insights that even back then were beginning to emerge from a growing spate of Mary Magdalene studies. My parishioners were a bright and intellectually curious bunch, so why not? During my sermon, I gently presented Margaret Starbird’s assertion (in her book The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, named after this very gospel passage) that the anointing of Jesus’s hands and feet described in the text was not simply a random act by a penitent woman, but an exquisitely symbolic ritual enacted between two lovers about to be separated.

The fire storm was predictable.

I had tried to pave the way as carefully as I could. My point in raising those issues, as I made clear both in the sermon itself and in the discussion that boiled over afterward, was not to argue the case one way or another, but rather to get at some of the attitudes underlying the way we Christians do theology — and more important the way we do love. “How do you feel about the possibility that Jesus had a human beloved?” I asked these parishioners. “Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Why?”

The responses were pretty much what I expected: “But if Jesus had sexual relations with a woman, he couldn’t be sinless.” “If he loved one in particular, he couldn’t love us all impartially.” “How could he be the son of God unless he gave himself completely to God?” The overwhelming consensus was that if Jesus had known erotic love, he could not possibly have also been the full embodiment of divine love. It would somehow disqualify him as the divine redeemer.

I could hardly blame the congregation for feeling that way.

After nearly two millennia of reinforcement, these assumptions have become so much of the landscape of Christianity that they appear to be part of the seamless structure of revealed truth. But in fact, assumptions are what they really are — not core tenets of the faith, not anything that Jesus himself taught, but superimpositions of a male, celibate, priestly theology which for nearly two thousand years has been the only game in town.

The complicated history of how this situation came to be could fill a book in itself (and in fact has several times over). The short version is basically this: during those first four centuries of Christian life, as leadership moved from a charismatic eldership model to the threefold sacramental ministry we know today (bishops, priests, and deacons), part and parcel of this evolution was an increasing tendency to view both Christ and his apostles through the prototype of celibate priesthood. This is of course a flagrant anachronism in light of the unambiguous scriptural references to Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14) and the only slightly more ambiguous allusions in Luke to the other disciples’ “companions.?”

But counterbalancing the testimony of the gospels themselves was a growing discomfort with conjugal intimacy, a discomfort whose roots probably lie in the extreme Essene asceticism out of which Jesus himself most likely emerged (we will be exploring this topic in greater detail in the following chapter). Beginning as early as Paul, this unease was magnified in each succeeding generation by a chorus of Christianity’s most influential thinkers including Marcion, Tatian, Jerome, and Augustine. The consensus grew stronger and stronger that sex and the sacraments simply didn’t mix. By the fourth century edicts were in place forbidding married priests to have conjugal relations with their wives. Not long thereafter married priesthood itself dropped astern in Western Christendom, and celibacy became the entrance requirement for admission to the power structure of the church.

It gives one a bit of a start to realize that for the better part of two millennia, Christian theology has been written, shaped, formulated, and handed down almost exclusively by celibates talking to other celibates. In that respect, it is extraordinarily monolithic. And from this exclusively celibate template emerges the only image of Christ our tradition has allowed us to entertain: of a celibate renunciate whose “sinless” purity would necessarily entail sexual abstinence.

At the age of twenty-one, this very requirement barred my own entrance into the Roman Catholic priesthood after seven years of seminary life, during which I tried in vain to suppress my body’s natural erotic urges and my soul’s longing for a feminine soul mate.  Cynthia goes right to the heart of the highly emotionally charged premise that in addition to all the roles attributed to Mary Magdalene — apostle, visionary, healer — “there is still one remaining to her, which may just be the most important of them all: soul mate.”

Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene lovers? Were they secretly married? That, of course, is the claim laid out in  The Da Vinci Code and a number of other books and documentaries and which the church angrily refutes.

The question would never have a fair hearing in Christian circles, she goes on to say, where the “mote” has not yet been cast out of our own eyes while we dare to pass judgement on those who entertain a different view from our own.

It is one thing to argue the case for reclaiming Mary Magdalene as apostle and wisdom-bearer, purveyor of a sorely needed feminine presence in the church; it is quite another to tie this claim to the theologically taboo subject of a romantic involvement with Jesus. Two-thousand years of dogma and tradition have left the field so thoroughly land-mined with negative assumptions and stereotypes that it is virtually impossible to see anything other than red, like my congregation that morning. The question will inevitably be heard as an attack on Jesus and as an act of sabotage upon the Christian faith itself.

After two-thousand years of programming that celibacy is the highest Christian way when compared to the second-rate path of committed spousal love, “it is hardly surprising that our Western anthropology of human sexuality is abysmal.”

In the secular version relentlessly foisted upon us by contemporary culture, it’s all about pleasure, performance, gratification. In the bedroom of the faithful, it’s still all too often about duty and shame: a begrudging debt to future generations which, even when carefully managed, is still tainted with carnal sin. Mention “erotic love” and people will immediately hear “sex,” then immediately thereafter, “dirty.” The idea that there could be anything holy about this kind of love is too alien to even consider. That’s simply the way our ears have been trained to hear it; we are all children of a cultural stream whose vision of human love  has been shaped by the shadow side of celibate spirituality.

From the gutter, the view of the gossip and speculation around Mary Magdalene and Jesus in various studies is less than holy and rather “scandalmongering,” Cynthia writes.

We are really presented with only four options:

1. That Mary Magdalene was Jesus’s mistress;

2. That theirs was a politically arranged marriage, strictly for dynastic purposes;

3. That they were sexual consorts in some Gnostic Mystery religion, ritually reenacting the sacred hieros gamos, or union of the opposites;

4. That the whole story is purely archetypal, a great Sophianic myth depicting the integration of the masculine and feminine within the human soul.”

With that, I will leave you to ponder these options for yourself and return in two weeks to compare your choice of options to Cynthia’s in my next post as we continue to explore romantic human love as a path to spiritual transformation. I will present four “propositions” or “myths”– all “rooted in the soil of celibate spirituality — that together have subtly sabotaged our ability to see romantic love as an authentic path of spiritual transformation.” Until my next post, then . . .

be love ~ be loved.

Anthony

Read my Health Light Newsletter on-line at LiftingTones.com.

 

 

 

On Human Relations ——- part 5: The Refugee Crisis

My Chorale PicThe current refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe unveils a crisis in human relations that has been smoldering in the heart of humanity yea these many, many centuries. The emotional and mental eruptions of fear, anger and a sense of threat to our heretofore protected way of life we’ve taken for granted offer viable opportunities for unprecedented change in the ways we view and treat one another.  We see some countries welcoming the refugees with open arms, even celebration. Other countries are treating them as invaders, even criminals, denying them their human rights to asylum as escapees from certain death in their war-torn homelands.  Such hostile attitudes have been part of the human psyche as far back as the Biblical days of tribal warfare, still going on. They are not going to be abandoned without deliberate action in thought, word and deed on the part of all the players in this crisis.

If you look closely at this crisis, the one attitude all the players exhibit is that of survival. The refugees are driven by survival, both in their own country and in a foreign land. Countries being “invaded” are concerned with survival of their culture and way of life. Let’s face it: we are all feeling put-upon and damn uncomfortable with this unprecedented migration of millions of Arabs out of the unsettled Middle East pouring into the well-settled and comparatively comfortable Western world. We worry about where it will all end up. Will we be forced to take in refugees into our homes, feed them and help them find work and a place in our society? Will we be faced, in other words, with the same question Cain faced after he slew Able: “Where is thy brother?” Are we being reminded in this refugee crisis that we are our brother’s keeper?

What are the solutions being considered?  One is to impose a quota on all countries so that the refugees will be given sanctuary. Another is to simply deport the “illegal immigrants” back to their homelands. That raises the problem of whether an immigrant is migrating for a better way of life or fleeing from war and death by starvation. Another solutions is to stem the violence in Syria that is driving the refugees out of their homes and lands–deal with the cause, in other words, so that the refugees can return home and resettle their lands. I like that solution. But how are we going to bring insane rulers to negotiate sane agreements and policies?

As I write this blog post I am envisioning this last scenario as a viable one: deal with the cause of the refugee crisis, which is President Assad and the Islamic State called “ISIS.”  Somehow I must work out this resolution in my consciousness, see it as possible, envision it as already happening. Pray it into manifestation, in other words.

I propose that this resolution to the refugee crisis through peaceful negotiations between President Assad in Syria and the League of Nations be adopted and allowed to manifest.  I invite you and all of your friends to join me in this prayer. A thousand people praying and meditating can shift this crisis toward peaceful resolution in Syria.  Join me in this prayer.

Anthony Palombo

On Human Relations —- part 4: A New Relation with Iran? page 2

My Chorale PicSecretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, negotiators for their nations, the US and Iran respectively, had become friends. Their relationship was interfering with their work. The story as told by Robin Wright in the July issue of THE NEW YORKER, is one every adult American needs to read in order to understand the larger picture: that of the people of Iran who, after living in a “pariah nation” for decades “crave normalcy,” re-entry into the world community, and a relationship with the outside world — but on their own terms. In my previous post, I conveyed their story, noting that in ten to fifteen years, when the Iranian Nuclear Deal will expire, there will be a new generation at the helm of government in Iran. The old hard-liners of today will have aged or passed away. In this post I wish to tell the rest of the story of how the members of the negotiating teams found their new-found relationships and friendships getting in the way of their negotiations. It’s a story well worth the read. It’s all about human relations. Enjoy the read.

The final deadline was supposed to be June 30th. The negotiating teams worked throughout June to get the talks back on track. Kerry and Zarif returned to Vienna for the final round on June 28th, two days before the deadline. They missed it. The major powers had to extend it three times. Ministers from other countries flew in and out of Vienna as the U.S. and Iranian teams debated their differences.

The diplomacy was supposed to be transactional. But at moments it was transformational, for two countries at odds about so much else. For twenty months, the Americans and the Iranians ate separately, often in small, adjacent dining areas. ”At a certain point, it just started to feel strange that they had never actually shared a meal together,” Kerry’s aide said. Zarif invited Kerry and his team to lunch on July 4th in the Iranians’ dining room, where he had ordered Persian food. “It was ten times better than the food we ate on our side of the house,” the aide told me. “It was a moment where it was clear–we knew it, sort of, without remarking on it–that these relationships had really developed over time.” Kerry and Zarif commiserated about pressures at home. Kerry mentioned members of Congress who were complaining that local political ads already opposed any deal with Iran. Zarif told Kerry about an Iranian newspaper warning that he shouldn’t come home if he compromised too much with the Americans.

The chasm was still deep. “Even when we can be, you know, just conversational with each other, there can come a moment in the middle of that–I would say them, more–when we revert back to form,” the State Department official said. “It can all of a sudden come out of the blue, when I think they can realize they’ve gotten too familiar.”

The next meltdown was on July 5th. The Iranians regularly griped about the indignity of international sanctions tarnishing a historic civilization and causing unnecessary suffering. During one long-winded tirade by Zarif, Kerry cut him off: “You know, you’re not the only nation with pride.”Tensions increased that afternoon. When Kerry and Zarif started shouting at each other, a Kerry staffer slipped in to say that they could be heard down the corridors of the Palais Coburg.

The next night, with another deadline imminent, Kerry offered Zarif a package deal, to get beyond the inteminable issue-by-issue squabbles. In a meeting with the major powers, Iran accused them of pulling back from agreed terms. At one point, Zarif shouted, “Never threaten an Iranian!” (When news of the flap spread, #neverthreatenaniranian quickly became a popular Twitter hashtag.)

“Or a Russian!” Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said, in an attempt to break the tension. Subsequent reporting implied that Russia sided with Iran, a long-standing ally. In fact, the Americans claimed, Lavrov regularly played a constructive role in calming the emotional Zarif.

The U.S. and Iran remained so far apart that Kerry told Zarif and the other foreign ministers that he was prepared to leave the next day. He would be available by phone if Zarif wanted to negotiate seriously. ”A lot of us felt, at that point, like we were in real trouble,” Kerry’s aide said. The next day, Zarif brought a point-by-point response to the proposal.

”It’s such a complex set of relationships,” the State Department official said. “We know each other. All of the mistrust that has been there for these decades remains. It’s not gone. It’s incredibly present all the time. But it fights against the fact that we’ve spent two years getting to know each other.”

Over the next week, negotiations sometimes drifted, as the parties nibbled away at differences. The terms to limit Iran’s nuclear program were wrapped up first. The most sensitive issues often had a link to Iran’s milltary, especially the powerful Revolutionary Guards. The final differences were sorted out in a meeting, shortly before midnight, on July 13th, with Kerry, Zarif, and Federica Mogherini, of the European Union. “They basically kicked everybody out who wasn’t a minister and figured out the end,” Kerry’s aide said.

The next morning, Iran and the six major powers met to formally confirm the terms. The final statement read, “With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.”

Afterward, each minister made remarks about the collaboration. Kerry, who spoke last, recalled going off to war as a young man, the traumatic experience of Vietnam, and his commitment, when he returned, to end that war. The diplomacy with Iran, he told his peers, was one time that he could prevent the horrors of war.

At the end of Kerry’s comments, his eyes welled up, his aide said. Others teared up, too, including the Iranians. Then everyone applauded.  Zarif went off to make a brief announcement with Mogherini, while Kerry watched, on an iPad, President Obama’s remarks from the White House about the potentially historic deal. When Zarif finished, he walked backstage and patted Kerry on the shoulder. They shook hands, the aide recounted. “And that’s how he said goodbye.”

Robin Wright ends her article — yes, the author is a woman, who alone could write an article such as this conveying the emotional climate that permeated these negotiations with so much insightful detail — with promising, though typically conservative patriarchal, comments from General Martin Dempsey.

“We will always have military options,” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during the final days of diplomacy. “And a massive ordnance penetrator is one of them.” A new bomb to take out a future Iranian bomb.

“Everyone who believes that overnight this relationship is going to change is naive as hell,” the senior State Department official told me. “It’s not. It’s just too deep–particularly among Iranian government officials, many of whom were part of the revolution. So there may be a generational shift that has to take place everywhere. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of time.”♦

Yes, “a generational shift” is underway already, both here in America and in Iran and the rest of the world. The new generation calls for an end to wars. Enough is enough!

I don’t know about you, but I get choked up reading this report. I suppose it’s because I know that, left to ourselves, we the people would find a way to live in peace and harmony with one another. I long for that, as I’m sure we all do. Seeing these human beings torn between their own natural inner compulsion to relate to one another as people just like themselves, even as friends, and their nations’ political agendas, that had ironically brought them together in this crucible, just pierces my heart and brings tears to my eyes. O God, let it be so for the peoples of all nations! Let us relate to one another as members of one species with one common purpose: the creation of the beautiful and harmonious world on this beautiful harmonious planet. Let it be so. ♥ (See the video link below for Colin Powell’s interview on Meet The Press.)

Anthony Palombo, DC

Read my Health Light Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com. Current topic: Update on cell phone hazards.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/09/06/colin-powell-says-what-many-conservatives-wont-admit-obama-made-good-deal-with-iran-video/

On Human Relations, part 4: A New Relationship with Iran?

“TEHRAN’S PROMISE  — The revolution’s midlife crisis and the nuclear deal.”

My Chorale PicTHE NEW YORKER this month features an excellent and well written article by Robin Wright on the Iranian Nuclear deal. I’m bringing it into my blog, and particularly into this series on human relations, because it’s about the personal relationship between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, a relationship that, in my opinion, was made in heaven for the specific purpose of bringing about this Nuclear deal with Iran—and more. It opened a window to the world through which the promise of a new relationship between the people of Iran and the rest of the world can be clearly seen, even through the distracting and manipulative cloud of propaganda Washington Conservatives have been putting before the American people via the media.

The relationship between these two men had its beginnings back in 2003 when Zarif was Iran’s United Nations Ambassador.  Kerry and Zarif “played pivotal roles in getting the process (of the Nuclear deal) started, through back channels: in 2003, as Iran’s U.N. Ambassador, Zarif orchestrated a secret overture, nicknamed ‘the grand bargain.’” This initiative is what set things in motion and led to an unannounced trip in 2011 by John Kerry, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “to explore an offer by the Sultan Oman to host covert diplomacy. That led to five secret rounds of lower-level U.S.-Iran talks, in Muscat, in 2013.”

Here’s what really piqued my interest in this relationship.

The most serious diplomacy since Washington severed relations with Tehran, in 1980, began shortly after Kerry and Zarif were appointed as their nations’ top diplomats. Their first meeting, in September, 2013, was supposed to be a handshake and an exchange of pleasantries in a United Nations hallway. The idea was to “get out without causing any incidents and build from there,” a Kerry aide recounted. But, at the last minute, Kerry decided to pull Zarif into an empty office, near the Security Council chamber, for a substantive conversation.

“Kerry’s whole approach to diplomacy . . . is premised on the belief that personal relationships matter, because they enable you to get things done, even in very difficult situations,” the aide said. “It was Kerry’s belief that this was going to be a relationship that would really matter.” Zarif was willing. The two men talked, alone, for almost thirty minutes.

The rest of the story is now copy for the history books. “The Iran deal, announced on July 14th, capped a dozen years of secret overtures, false starts, clandestine meetings, and unpublished correspondence between Washington and Tehran.

THE POLITICS OF THE PEOPLE

A huge transition is underway in Iran between the old revolutionary leadership and the new generation. The article’s parallel and probably more significant theme is about the people of Iran, the next generation of young people who represent more than sixty percent of Iran’s eighty-million people, “A baby-boom generation, born after the revolution, (that) doesn’t share all of its priority.” Iran’s youth are not so enamored by the hard-liners’ religious fanaticism over an ideal Islamic state.  They are more interested in pursuing and engaging the rising tide of modern technologies flooding Iran via the internet. Wright offers a canny insight into the climate being generated by Iran’s public that “clearly wants reentry” into the larger world of commerce and culture they have been insulated against for decades by their revolutionary elders, the majority of which are “over the hill” in age and soon to be on their way out literally.  The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, himself turns seventy-six this month.

“The original generation of revolutionaries will disappear in the next ten years,” Saeed Laylaz, an economist and a former adviser to President Khatami, said. Laylaz, who was imprisoned for a year after the 2009 election, added, “The new assembly [the Assembly of Experts, a group of eighty-six theologians] will reflect the new generation.”

All of Khomeini’s grandchildren—there are fifteen—back reformers. . . .  Half a dozen of the grandchildren were educated in the West. Some of the grandchildren have considered running for parliament of the assembly. . . .  A loose coalition of reformers, moderates, and centrists hopes to flood the field with candidates, so that even if they are disqualified in large numbers many of them can still compete.

As Robin Wright describes the rising tide of liberal youthful energy,

“It’ a tsunami,” Said Rahmani, the C.E.O. of Sarava, Iran’s first venture capital fund, told me. “This generation is worldly. They’re educated. They work. They have spending power. They’re not dependent on anyone. They have a different range of thinking.”

These days, the energy—and the locus or charting Iran’s future—is less in heady debates about the ideal Islamic state than in a practical scramble to exploit twenty-first-century technology to change society. More than a third of the population uses the Internet. Giant billboards for a new smart-phone model were plastered across Tehran this summer: “NEXT IS NOW.”

Iran has its Amazon.com in Digikala, which accounts for more than eighty percent of online retail, valued recently at a hundred-and-fifty million dollars, started up by a set of thirty-six year old twins. Online commerce is increasingly defining market prices in Iran.

WESTERN INFLUENCE

“America, particularly, haunts Iran,” Robin writes. “. . . After decades of living is a pariah nation, Iranians seem to crave normalcy—but on their own terms. Figuring out their relationship with the outside world is a big part of the transition. They have tried repeatedly and failed.”

The chant “DEATH TO AMERICA!” we hear so much talk about in the arguments against the Iranian Nuclear Deal in the halls of Congress and in Western media propaganda is limited only to Friday night Islamic prayer meetings. It is not the cry of the people.

“’Death to America’? This is politics and not related to people’s thinking,” Elnaz Mobahat, the owner of Manhattan Grill, one of Tehran’s chic new restaurants, told me. The place is adorned with American kitsch. One wall features photographs of sports stars, including Tiger Woods. “There are fourteen million people in greater Tehran, and maybe one hundred thousand attend Friday prayers,” she said. “Most people say we should talk to the Americans and solve our differences. We can both benefit. There are many investments opportunities in the oil and food industries.” She pointed to the ketchup bottles on every table. “Look, we use Heinz!”

A RELATIONSHIP FORGED IN FIRE

John Kerry and Mohammed Karif brought to the negotiating table the raging undercurrents of their nations’ turbulent warring histories and deeply scarred collective psyches conditioned by a track record of dishonesty, deception and consequent mistrust and paranoia. They were thrust by the gods of fate into a crucible together to process the relationship between their respective nations and between Iran and Israel and all the other nations in the world. And that crucible served its purpose by giving space for the many factors that make up human relations to be brought forth and released under pressure into the cauldron of heated debate and negotiation. The Iranian Nuclear Deal was not made in peaceful interchanges. It was forged in fire.  Robin Wright tells how it went down in all of its emotional and frustrating details.

It got much harder over time. The world’s five other major powers—Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia—were technically equal players. But the United States increasingly took the lead in one-on-one meetings with the Iranians. More than a year after that first encounter, the chasm on core issues was still deep, despite an interim Joint Plan of Action, a confidence-building step that curtailed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for modest sanctions relief. It did not address long-term limits or rewards.

As the original deadline for a final deal loomed, last November, Kerry and Zarif met in Oman. The senior State Department official described the meeting as “extremely contentious.”

Kerry’s aide said, “Both sides left thinking that we had just spent a lot of hours and a lot of time under very tense conditions and in very tense conversations that made little progress.” A deal looked doubtful. A few days later, the six powers agreed to extend the deadline until June 30th.

In February and again in March, Kerry was on the verge of backing away from the conversations entirely, US officials told me. On February 21st, as Kerry was scheduled to fly from London to Geneva, Wendy Sherman, the Under-Secretary of State and chief nuclear negotiator, called him to say, “We are nowhere.” Iran was backtracking. “I really don’t think you can come under these circumstances,” she said. Kerry instructed her to tell the Iranians that he would skip Geneva and fly home. The next morning, Iran was more forthcoming, and Kerry subsequently flew to Switzerland.

On March 27th, in Lausanne, tempers flared three nights before the deadline of a so-called Framework to define what each side would accept in a final deal. At the last minute, negotiating with the Americans, Iran took an important matter off the table. The five other major powers were supposed to show up within a day, but there was so much left unresolved that Kerry decided he might have to abort. He arranged to go to Zarif’s suite. At 10 P.M., they met alone. Kerry’s style is to coax rather than threaten. But this time, two US. officials told me, Kerry was blunt. He told Zarif that unless there was progress the sessions were “basically done.”The next day, the issue was back on the table. Six days later, the major powers and Iran
announced the outlines of a potential agreement.

“There were moments when you just had to push through,” Kerry’s aide said. The most confrontational exchange took place on May 30th. The talks were “brutal, just brutal,” the State Department official recalled. According to Kerry’s aide, “It was a lot of the two sides banging their heads against each other.” At one point, Zarif got up, walked around the room, and announced, “I have to leave.” He then sat on a chair against a wall and put his head in his hands.

Kerry, known for being unflappable, lost it, too. Toward the end of six difficult hours, he slammed his hand down on the conference table so hard that his pen flew across the table and hit one of the Iranians. “It stunned everyone, because it was so out of character,” the State Department official said.

Both sides left Geneva feeling deeply pessimistic. The next day, Kerry vented his frustration by taking a vigorous ride from Geneva into France on his racing bike, which he often brings on trips.  As he was starting up the challenging Col de la Colombiere, he rode into a curb and flew off the bike. His right femur was badly broken, and he had to be medevaced to Boston for surgery. After the news broke, one of the first e-mails he received was from Zarif, wishing him well.

Love and mutual respect held these two men together through thick and thin. Few if any in our halls of Congress know what took place at these negotiations. Nor do they seem to care. Who among them takes into account that in ten years when this deal expires the old hard-line leaders in Iran will have been replaced by the younger generation of reformers who want more than anything to be in a peaceful and fruitful working relationship with the other nations of the world, particularly with America? And I don’t think they want to annihilate Israel, nor develop nuclear bombs. We simply need to trust that the process that brought these two men together will help us forge a new relationship with Iran. An irresistible force was set in motion based on mutual love and respect. And love never fails.  It’s at the heart of all meaningful relationships.

I will share more from this important article in a couple of weeks. I hope you have enjoyed reading about this historical and significant development in the Middle East as much as I did. Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved

Anthony Palombo, DC

Read my HealthLight Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com.

On Human Relations, part 3, page 4: Man-Woman Equality

I think what we see here is more about cosmic energies, driven by love, seeking a balance in human relationships and affairs and equal partnership in co-creating a beautiful world.

My Chorale PicIn my last post, I offered my perspective and take on the seemingly phenomenal explosion of same-sex relationships. Much of the “explosion,” however, seems to be more about public awareness due to social media than actual increase in terms of numbers. Homosexuality has likely been around since the separation between man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Biblical references abound in both Old and New Testament scriptures. I think what we see here is more about cosmic energies, driven by love, seeking a balance in human relationships and affairs and equal partnership in co-creating a beautiful world.

As I understand their nature, cosmic energies are both positive and negative, or masculine and feminine, and that is by divine design in order to foster Creation itself. It is the Law of Love at work. Positive energy is by nature radiant, a masculine characteristic, and negative energy is by nature responsive, a more feminine characteristic. Creation involves equal partnering between masculine and feminine energies.  It is governed by the Law of Balance, which Walter and Lao Russell wrote so eloquently about in their books I’ve been reviewing and referencing in this blog series. If that partnering is prevented between men and women — as is surely the case in today’s male-female relationships where the man lords it over the woman yet in a social order that denies women equal privilege, pay and participation in decision making and governance — then these cosmic energies, which obey only divine order and the cosmic laws of Creation, will rise up to partner in same-sex relationships. Ideally, these co-creative energies seek to partner in a balanced way in each individual human being, where they are equally operative, and will do so as the individual pursues and completes a spiritual path that leads to true Self awareness and activation.

Mind you, these individuals are “same-sex” only in physical appearance and not in spiritual or vibrational essence and reality. These energies have no persona, no respect of person. Nor do they have ego, either male or female.  In other words, they are not the person. They are cosmic energies, pure and simple, and they belong together bringing forth Creation as equal partners in a balanced relationship.

The problem arises out of our insistence on identifying with them. Our correct identity is as a Human Being. I am a Human Being incarnate in a male form. My wife is a Human Being incarnate in a female form. We were drawn together by Love, as are most couples. It has been our conscious choice to find a balance in our relationship and to learn what it means to partner in life. This “Work” is an ongoing process.

This balance is obvious between Walter and  Lao Russell when you read their writings. They worked at it and succeeded in achieving man-woman equality. Jesus and Mary Magdalene established the pattern of spiritual intimacy and equality that manifested itself in their mental and physical relationship. They were full partners in their shared ministry — and it was a shared ministry, as I will write about when I review Cynthia Bourgeault’s timely and provocative book The Meaning of MARY MAGDALENE — Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity

But let’s read a little more from Lao’s chapter on Man-Woman Equality. At the end of this chapter, Lao takes an action step toward creating a movement in the USA that could change the status quo.

In her own words . . .

Portrait of Lao Russell

Portrait of Lao Russell

Our present unbalanced civilization is scientifically impossible to endure. It is fast disintegrating even now and its decay has accelerated very dangerously since 1900. It is so badly unbalanced in so many departments and institutions that any attempt to balance all of them simultaneously would not be effectual, besides which there is not time to do it that way. The most necessary and the most hopeful one of the unbalanced conditions is man-woman equalization.

This essential to world happiness could become a living flame which would illumine the whole world with a new light if every woman started immediately to “do something about it,” aided by every man who believed in it. Such a movement can succeed only if organized into strength of numbers. One alone can do but little but if everyone joined together in a multiple ONE UNIT of twenty millions or more before the next election, it might be quite possible to make the first great step in that direction by electing many women senators and congresswomen, and even the Vice President for the next Presidential term. Such a world innovation adopted in this country would arouse the whole world of women in other countries where such an innovation would be impossible at the present time. This country should lead the world in this respect as it has in so many respects.

The way to do this speedily and powerfully is for you and every woman everywhere, to call a few friends to gether and form themselves into a unit of the Man-Woman Equalization League. It must be started by
women but every man who is in sympathy with the movement should become an equal member of it. Every truly great man will immediately realize its import and become an enthusiastic working member of it. That UNITY is its very purpose

The League never got off the ground. However, one can go to the Foundation website and find there ways to participate in various programs and projects. I will end this excerpt with a few final words from Lao.

The appeal for this organization is so strong that its growth would become millions in one year if every woman would but realize that women have the power to save the world from another chaos by merely asserting themselves as equal inheritors of the earth and of the business of managing all earthly affairs equally with men. . . . 

When women once realize this saving power which is theirs, and the responsibility which is theirs, this movement will become the mighty crusade which it ought to be. . . .

It is hardly necessary to call your attention to the power which is vested in so many million votes.Unless something of this nature is initiated at once we shall go farther and farther into the chaos which a man-made world is so fast falling into. It is scientifically impossible for peace and happiness to come to such an unbalanced world as this is, where the physical values are so preponderant over spiritual values. We have either got to balance the FatherMother basis of Creation or perish over and over again until we dobalance it.

I therefore say to every woman who reads this book: Will you start today to dedicate yourself to this world service? And I also say to every man: Will you help woman to give birth to this man-woman equalization movement for world unification and peace, and become a member of the Man-Woman Equalization League?

I will leave you with this video interview of Lao Russell.

You can also view it at : Lao Russell Interview PM Magazine  https://youtu.be/mTCQf3iVssQ

Reference: “GOD WILL WORK WITH YOU BUT NOT FOR YOU” By Lao Russell.

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