Seeking life wherever it is expressed.

Reimagining Church

The Enlightenment of A Christian

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Language and terms are a tricky thing. Everyday people speak or write words to each other in an attempt to communicate thoughts and feels. The reality is the intent of the one speaking the words to communicate their thoughts and feelings is rarely ever met. Words are symbols for thoughts and feelings and the meaning of a symbol is many different things to many different people. I grew up on the west coast of the USA in a non-denomination Christian family. I understand and speak in non-denominational Christian west coast symbol. I live in the east coast and I am not a part of a Christian church you can imagine the difficulty I have in communicating what I think and feel.

For today’s symbol I am using the word “Enlightenment”.

Enlightenment is a term Paul the Apostle used in his writing the letter of Ephesians “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Eph.1:18” In most cases where a Christian uses the term enlightenment, the words of Paul are not thought of instead the Christian thinks it is a non-Christian term and is from the teaching of Buddha. Now Buddha did experience enlightenment but my thought and questions is, “is this word and experience a non-Christ experience”?

The Greek word used by Paul is πεφωτισμένους pephōtismenous 5461 and it means: to shine, give light.

In the verse Paul states the reason for enlightenment is εἰςeis to reach a point or entry into perceiving, hence to know.

Another way of saying it might be “enlightenment is the the doorway for the eyes or your heart or conscientiousness to obtain the knowledge and understanding of the spiritual realities”.

So this is Paul’s use of the symbol but how does Buddha use the symbol? In Buddhism, bodhi or enlightenment means the awakening experience. It speaks of the Buddha, Buddha means “one who has awakened.” To awaken means to open ones eyes.

Leaving his kingdom and loved ones behind, Prince Siddhartha became a wandering monk. He cut off his hair to show that he had renounced the worldly lifestyle and called himself Gautama. He wore ragged robes and wandered from place to place. In his search for truth, he studied with the wisest teachers of his day. None of them knew how to end suffering, so he continued the search on his own.
For six years he practiced severe asceticism thinking this would lead him to enlightenment. He sat in meditation and ate only roots, leaves and fruit. At times he ate nothing. He could endure more hardships than anyone else, but this did not take him anywhere. He thought, “Neither my life of luxury in the palace nor my life as an ascetic in the forest is the way to freedom. Overdoing things can not lead to happiness. ” He began to eat nourishing food again and regained his strength.

On a full-moon day in May, he sat under the Bodhi tree in deep meditation and said. “I will not leave this spot until I find an end to suffering.” During the night, he was visited by Mara, the evil one, who tried to tempt him away from his virtuous path. First he sent his beautiful daughters to lure Gautama into pleasure. Next he sent bolts of lightning, wind and heavy rain. Last he sent his demonic armies with weapons and flaming rocks. One by one, Gautama met the armies and defeated them with his virtue.
As the struggle ended, he realized the cause of suffering and how to remove it. He had gained the most supreme wisdom and understood things as they truly are. He became the Buddha, ‘The Awakened One’. From then on, his name was changed and he was called Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni “sage of the Shakyas,” Shakya being the name of the tribe or clan to which his family belonged. … Shakyamuni died at the age of eighty. His last words were, “Work out your own salvation with diligence”.
Paul would write 500+ years later : “work out your salvation with fear and trembling; Phil.2:12”

It seems that Shakyamuni Buddha used the word enlightenment in the same way Paul used it. I Once Was Blind, But Now Can See!

Saul on the road to Damascus was blinded by the light of Jesus Christ and after that he could see what he could not before. When he could see his name was changed to Paul meaning small. Prince Siddhartha was blind with his life of riches and later in his life of poverty but in being still he was able to overcome and see what he could not before. When he could see his name was changed to Shakyamuni Buddha meaning teacher from Shakya one who has awakened.

Eph.5:13-14 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” Paul the Apostle
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All things….Everything that is visible is LIGHT..Just open your eyes, awaken to what is and be enlightened!!!!!

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Is the Jehovah Moses speaks of the Heavenly Father of Jesus?

Is the Jehovah Moses speaks of the Heavenly Father of Jesus?


“You Have Heard it said”

One of Jesus main teachings and actions, something that made Jesus stand out among Teachers was his teaching and demonstration of love not only for friends but also of his enemies.

Jesus said in his famous Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48

Was this Love of enemies demonstrated by Jehovah in the books of Moses?

The Flood, here it seems we see Jehovah taking care of the ones he likes

Gen.6:5-13 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth…..The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, ……I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, …..But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. ……Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.

Sodom and Gomorrah, here it seems Jehovah takes care of his friends but what about his enemies?

Gen.19:13-24 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city ” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting. …….Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven,

Mt Sinai and The Children of Israel, here it seems a very angry God who needs a man to talk him out of destroying even his friends.

Deuteronomy 9:13-14,18-23“The LORD spoke further to me, saying, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people. ‘Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’ “I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you had committed in doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke Him to anger. “For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the LORD was wrathful against you in order to destroy you, but the LORD listened to me that time also. “The LORD was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him; so I also prayed for Aaron at the same time. ….”Again at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the LORD to wrath. “

Joshua and the Promised Land, here it seems Jehovah is a God who hardens hearts so the people would fight and be destroyed.

Joshua.11:19-20 There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The words in the books of Moses do not seem to display the Heavenly Father that Jesus displays.

The Command of The Lord is –
Lev.24:17-23 ‘If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death. ….. fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him. …… for I am the LORD your God.'” Then Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, and they brought the one who had cursed outside the camp and stoned him with stones. Thus the sons of Israel did, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The expression of the Father through Jesus says – “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

Did Moses or whoever wrote Leviticus misunderstand or misquote “The Lord” ? Jesus is quoted as saying “You have heard it was said” “But I say” then he also says he only speaks his Fathers words not his own.

Was Jesus correcting a misquote?



So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.
John 7:16

The disciples of Jesus agree with Jesus

Peter writes – “Do not return evil with evil, or insults with insults. Instead, pray for blessing. You were called in order to inherit blessing,” 1Peter 3:9.
Paul writes – Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Rom.12:17

Now “The Lord” says – Mal.3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

Now if Moses followed the Lord Jonah interacted with I don’t think we have any conflict. The “Lord” of Jonah (as recorded in the book of Jonah) is a loving and forgiving Lord that seems more in line with the Father that Jesus expressed.

It does not seem that the “Lord” described in the 5 books of Moses always depict or express the non changing Heavenly Father of Jesus.
Some may say “It was a different time or dispensation” that may be true for man but not for God. God is not affected by time – He is the same yesterday, today and forever. At least this is true of “Jesus Christ
Heb.13:8.”

The turn or burn message sometimes preached today seems appropriate to the Lord of Moses but not the merciful Heavenly Father of Jesus Christ. Moses himself seems to display more the attributes of the Heavenly Father of Jesus than the Lord of Moses does.

Jesus said “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” John 14:7

The Father of Jesus was not well known when Jesus walked the earth. It was the Law that was read, studied and known.
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! John 9:28

Of the Law Jesus said: Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me. John 7:19

Notice he says “Moses gave you the Law” not “My Father gave you the Law”

In the recorded words of Jesus written by John you can feel the desperate exasperation of Jesus toward a people he loves that simply won’t listen. Here is a people who search the writings of other men instead of receiving the Father’s Love. These people simply refuse to know the Father for themselves they fight among themselves about the meaning of different prophets words and refuse to have an encounter of their own.

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” John 5:39-47

Jesus knocking on the door of a Bible study

So, Is the Jehovah Moses speaks of the Heavenly Father of Jesus?
My answer is NO and Yes. Moses in some ways knew and expressed the Heavenly Father but at other times, like many of us, he expressed the “law and thoughts of Moses” not the Law of the Heavenly Father. Jesus expressed his Fathers Law in these words ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt.22:37-39.

So when reading Moses rejoice when he writes about your Heavenly Father but remember just because Moses says “you have heard it said” it does not make it the words or actions of your Heavenly Father.


The Ego On Our Spiritual Journey

This is a transcript of talks given by Laurence Freeman to the monks of Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky, USA in 1992.

The Ego

On Our Spiritual Journey

by LAURENCE FREEMAN who is a Benedictine Monk and Director of The World Community of Christian Meditation

These talks were given to Monk at Gethsemani Abbey in 1992

1 The Ego

This is from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: And to all he said, “If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind; day after day he must take up his cross and come with me. Whoever cares for his own safety is lost; but if a man will let himself be lost for my sake, that man is saved. What will a man gain by winning the whole world, at the cost of his true self?” (Luke 9:23-26) The great hindrance to this journey, this following of Christ, is the way in which we falsely identify ourselves with our ego. Perhaps we as religious people take it a little too much for granted that it is a good thing to leave self behind. I was once talking to a rather successful business-woman in New York who came to a talk I was giving there. I gave this talk on leaving ego behind, which you wouldn’t think anyone could really object to. She came up afterwards and said, “What nonsense you are talking! I don’t want to leave my ego behind.” She said, “I am my ego.” At least I think she had a clear sense of what she believed. We, most of us, identify ourselves with our ego, unconsciously. As we do the work of this prayer, we come to understand ourselves, our ego, more clearly. We see that the ego is both the cause and the state of suffering. The Buddha said: life is suffering, and suffering is life. He is referring, I suppose, to the ego. The ego manifests itself in many ways and gets into everything. It can get into our spiritual work, into our spiritual journey. We don’t lose the ego when we come into a religious life. We don’t lose the ego even when we begin to pray. There are certain signs of the ego’s activity that we become more aware of as we become more simple. The first sign of the ego is the desire to be great, the desire for example to be number one, the desire to dominate. Then there is the desire to take; the ego wants to take, rather than give or rather than let be. The ego desires to keep, to hang on, to cling, to possess, not to let go. The ego desires to advance, to get more, to be more, to know more, to own more. The ego desires to hold on to everything even at the expense of others, putting ourselves, in other words, before others. Those characteristics of egoism are characteristics of every activity, spiritual, physical, and mental, that we might be involved in. So there is a real danger, particularly for the religious person, of an egotistical spirituality. A spirituality that desires to be great, that desires to take an experience of God or holiness, to keep it, to gain more, and to hold on to it even at the expense of others. The sayings of the Fathers of the Desert are really a constant commentary upon the dangers of an egotistical spirituality. This is perhaps why St John of the Cross tells us to give up all desire, even the desire for God. Not the love of God, not our innate longing for God which we cannot give up, but our desire for God – the desire to possess, to control, to own, to keep God. In this way of prayer, in the simple 3 ascesis of the single word, we strike at the ‘root of sin’, as The Cloud of Unknowing called it, at the root of our ego. We let go. There’s a phrase in Alcoholics Anonymous: Let go, let God. Of course, the ego is a natural stage of the development of our humanity. The ego develops at a certain age in a child, and the ego is a necessary and useful force or tool, instrument, of consciousness. Without an ego, we won’t be able to communicate with each other. We wouldn’t be able to relate to others. It isn’t that the ego is bad in itself. There is nothing in human nature that is in itself bad. Therefore Jesus who was fully human must have had an ego. And yet Jesus did not sin: a man like us in all things but sin. How do we understand the problems of egoism? All these hindrances, all these faults can even get into our spiritual life. But if we look at Jesus, what we see, I think, is a man who certainly had an ego, who could say “I” and who had a will, who could give up his ego and his will at the end of his life: “not as I will but as you will”. So we see a man who had an ego, and clearly a strong ego, but a man who did not sin, because he never identified himself with his ego. He never said “I am my ego.” That was the great temptation that he went through in the desert, to identify himself with the tendencies of egoism. He was tempted. The ego clearly manifested its tendencies in him, but he never identified his real self with the ego. We who have sinned have the work of detaching ourselves from that identification, breaking that identification, simply waking up, in other words, to the fact that we have an ego, and it is a useful thing as long as it is there, but it is not who I am. The ego is not my true and deepest identity. This presents I think a great challenge to modern culture, our contemporary society, because the ego is so hyper-activated in our society. The ego is the great force of a technological and consumer society, the technological society which wants to be in control of everything, and a consumer society that is dominated by desire. What we have to be particularly careful of in such a culture is the creation of a consumer spirituality or a technological spirituality, a spirituality that becomes identified with psychological techniques, for example. Or a spirituality that becomes identified only with the desires of spiritual jollies, spiritual pleasures. This is the role of asceticism in a society like ours. It is the understanding that asceticism, and the essential ascesis of the Christian life, is prayer. Asceticism is the way in which we recover the primary will in the human person. The primary will is deeper than the desires of our ego. The primary will is our natural inclination, tendency towards God, what the early Cistercian fathers called the pondus, the natural gravity in the soul that draws us towards God. The purpose of asceticism is not to crush the will or to punish, but to clear away, to clear the blocks, to unfold the mind, and to reveal this essential goodness at this core of the human person, so that what we do is right and what we wish to do is right. And, in this way of prayer, in the simple ascesis of the single word, we strike at the root of our ego.

2 The True Self

Jesus uses the phrase, “our true self”: “What will a man gain by winning the whole world at the cost of his true self?” (Luke 9:25) It is very difficult to answer that question: What is the self? What is my true self? It is really rather indefinable. But it is evidently of some importance that we understand what it means because it is for this reason that we are doing all the work of leaving our false self behind. It’s rather indefinable, but I came across a very wonderful phrase from a seventh century Indian philosopher. He says: “The self is the inner light. It is selfevident and it does not become an object of perception.” In the Gospel of Thomas, there is this secret saying of Jesus, “The Kingdom is within and without you. If you will know yourselves, you will be known. And you will know that you are sons of the living Father.” I think it is to that, that Jesus is referring when he replies to the Pharisees in the Gospel of Luke when the Pharisees ask him, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” He said: “You cannot tell by observation when the Kingdom of God will come. There will be no saying ‘Look here it is or there it is’ for in fact the Kingdom of God is within you”. (Luke 17:20-21) If we see a connection, which I think we must, between the Kingdom of God and the true self, what they have in common if they are not in fact the same thing is that we can’t observe them. We can’t say, “look, there it is” or ‘here it is”. The Kingdom of God is the experience of our true self, and it does not admit of observation. In other words, it is beyond self-consciousness. It is beyond the normal or familiar activities of the mind by which we objectify something and analyse it and label it. We are doing this constantly whether we are intellectuals or not. We are constantly intellectualising things, objectifying things. Perhaps it helps to see this true self that we cannot observe in relation to the ego. A story is perhaps the best way of capturing it. It is the story of a man who does a favour to some angel and, as a reward, he is given a servant. This servant is a rather magical servant who will do anything the master wants. This is a wonderful thing to have and so for quite a few days, the master uses his servant for getting everything he wants. But after a few days, he has got everything he wants, and he wants the servant just to keep quiet. But then he discovers that the servant is irrepressible. The servant is constantly coming to him, and not giving him a moment’s rest and always asking for things to do, so much so that he begins totally to wear his master down and exhaust him. The man is brought almost to the point of collapse until he comes up with a bright idea. He sets a big pole in the middle of the courtyard. Whenever the servant comes to him, asking for something to do and the master does not want to give him anything to do, he says, “Go run up and down the pole until I tell you to stop.” It is rather a nice story describing perhaps the relationship between the true self and the ego, and even expressing something of the mystery of prayer. The running up and down of the pole could be described as our prayer. All prayer has this repetitive 5 quality, the stilling of the mind bringing us to equanimity, to quies. a discipline, and a repetitive discipline such as the mantra, keeping the ego in its place: The radical renunciation of our false identification with our ego. It is this unself-conscious state which is the condition of our true self. It’s why we cannot look at the true self. Just as St Irenaeus says that God cannot become an object of our knowledge. We can only know God by sharing in God’s own self-knowledge. We can never say, “Look, there is God”, as if God were something or someone separate and outside of us. God can never be an object of our knowledge. The Spirit of God is the self-knowledge of God. And the great Christian revelation is that the gift of the Spirit, the whole purpose and meaning of the life and mission of Jesus, the sending of the Spirit is the sending of this self-knowledge of God, the love of Father and Son that involves us, absorbs us, into the knowledge of God. We can only know God by being led into the Spirit of God. So just as we cannot look at God as an object, we cannot look at the true self that we are. In the same way, we cannot look at another self. We can’t say, “My true self is looking at your true self.” What Jesus is describing is a self-less state, or rather an ego-less state, in which we are able to see, know and love Christ in each other because we see, know and love Christ in ourselves. The state of looking at someone as if they are separate from us is the egotistical state, the state of duality and separateness. It is in this state, in which we are usually engaged with each other, my ego relating to your ego, that we either find each other attractive or unattractive. We either agree or we disagree. We either like or we don’t like. We love or we hate. We judge or we pardon. All of those activities that relate us to each other, and these are vital activities of community, are at the level of the ego. In a Christian community, we are aiming to meet each other, not at the level of our separate egos, but in Benedict’s vision: “To love one another at the level of our true self, where we are one, and where the unity we have with each other is nothing less than Christ himself.” We cannot separate Christ from our true self. I don’t know whether one could say that Christ is our true self, but we cannot separate Christ from our true self. If we have found our true self, then we have found that wavelength in which we can relate to each other in a truly loving way, truly compassionate, truly in empathy, truly non-judgemental, truly tolerant, putting up with the weaknesses of body and character in each other. This is very much related to our relationships with each other, very much related to forgiveness, for example. We cannot truly forgive one another unless we are in touch with our own true identity, our own essential goodness. We cannot forgive one another, and therefore we cannot enter into relationship with one another, unless we are in touch with that true self. The process of forgiveness occupies such an important place in the Christian vision precisely for this reason – because it is in the process of forgiveness that we detach from our ego and find our true self, from which experience we find the power to love one another. Christ is the supreme example and teacher of that. It is in this pure prayer that the ego is transcended. In the transcendence of the ego, reconciliation and communion become possible. So having found the self, the true self, we come to the condition of God, of being unconditionally loving. That is our call to “be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect”, our heavenly Father who shines on the good and bad alike, who loves good and bad equally. We are called to love in that way, to know each other in that way, in the common ground of being, to know and love each other in God. We can only do that if we have found our true self, this true self that we cannot look at, but the true 6 self that we are, that we simply are. This is why the starting point for any spiritual journey of this kind has to be the recognition and the affirmation of our essential goodness. That’s probably the most difficult point for most of us to get to because until we have got to that point we cannot really believe that this journey is possible. Perhaps, indeed, until we have come to that belief of our essential goodness, we are even frightened of finding out who we really are.

3 Egoless Prayer –

Pure Prayer Our ego is not our true self. In pure prayer, the ego is transcended. It is in that work of pure prayer that our false identification with the ego is gradually diminished, and the true self begins to emerge. I think it was Merton who talked about the true self as like a shy deer that does not like to come out of the woods; it does not like to be looked at. From the teachings of Cassian, the Desert Fathers, and the whole monastic tradition, it is very clear that the purity of prayer is its egolessness. Pure prayer means ‘without ego’, ‘without self-consciousness, self-analysis’. The prayer in which we are analysing what is happening, watching what we are getting out of it, is not pure prayer. That’s why the first rule of meditation is to meditate without demands or expectations, and without judging your meditation in fact in any way, finding the fruit of our prayer not in what happens during the meditation but in our life as a whole, in the transformation of our personality. This egoless prayer is precisely what St Anthony is referring to when he says, quoted by Cassian: “The monk who knows that he is praying, is not praying. The monk who does not know that he is praying, he is truly praying.” We see the same understanding of prayer in the Syriac tradition. The Syriac Fathers say very simply: “If we are to pray, we must lose my prayer.” We must go beyond ‘my prayer’; and leaving my prayer behind, enter into the prayer of Christ. What this suggests to us is the prayer of Christ himself. All forms of prayer, all methods of prayer, whether it is the Divine Office, whether it is any devotional form, even if it is Scripture itself, any form, ritual or method of prayer is only preparatory, or a reminder, or an incentive, or an encouragement to go deeper into the purity of unself- conscious prayer, into the prayer of Christ. The same is true ultimately of the mantra, the formula of Cassian. There comes perhaps a time, when we stop saying the mantra, when we are led into pure silence, pure simplicity. But it is very important for us I think to be cautious about how we understand that. Remember the “pax pernicioso”and the sopor letalis, the lethal sleep and the pernicious peace. The purpose of the mantra is not just to lead us to quiet but to lead us beyond the ego, beyond all sense of ‘I’. That’s why a very simple way of describing this would be to say: “Say your word until you can no longer say it. We do not choose when to stop saying it. And as soon as you realise you have stopped saying it, then simply start saying it again.” The problem comes when we are meditating and we are led into a state of quiet. There are maybe no distractions or very few distractions and we feel very peaceful, and then we say to ourselves: “I am silent; I don’t need to say the mantra anymore.” The problem of course is that if we say we are silent, we are breaking the silence. The thought “I am silent” is a sign that we have not yet become fully simple, totally simple; we are still self-reflective. And there is the radical simplicity of Cassian’s teaching, why he insists to say the mantra in times of adversity and in times of prosperity. In pure prayer, there is the absence of ‘I’ as a separate ego, and even the absence of God as an object of perception, all ideas and images of God. This is a description, 8 of course, of apophatic prayer, and the whole of this tradition of pure prayer is in the apophatic tradition. In the Greek Orthodox Church, the relationship between apophatic prayer (prayer that takes us beyond all thought and words and statements about God) and kataphatic prayer (prayer in which we use words, thoughts and images), the Orthodox thinkers believe that these are two valid forms of prayer, two dimensions, but they give the priority to the apophatic, prayer that takes us beyond all statements and images about God. When we think of prayer, indeed the whole of our life, we need to see poverty as the working goal, the goal that we are working towards. If we were to say “What is the goal of our life?” we would probably say “liberation” or “salvation” or “enlightenment”. And we would say that renunciation is the means by which we come to this goal. There always seems something wrong in that. But if we put it the other way around, there seems something very right about it. The goal is renunciation; and liberation or enlightenment is the means. In other words, we are never trying to possess the goal, never trying to make an object of God, never trying to look at our true self. If renunciation is the goal, if poverty is the goal, then we have arrived, no doubt why poverty of spirit is the first of the Beatitudes. It is in that poverty that we find joy, because the goal is realised, it is never achieved. The process of prayer is the process of realising what is, not of making something happen.

4 Our True Self –

A Child of God Jesus says that the true self is the highest value in life: “What will a man gain by winning the whole world at the cost of his true self?” (Luke 9:25) The true self that we’ve been talking about, that we realise as we detach from the identification with our ego, the true self that Jesus says is the highest value in life, that true self is a child, a child of God. In this true self that we are, we are more truly a child of God than we are even a child of our parents. We have a higher reality or a more essential reality as a child of God, that being our fundamental relationship into which all our other relationships are rooted. As a child of our parents, we have a psychological and physical identity, and that has, clearly, a certain reality. But the most basic reality is that reality we have as a child of God. Realising that, finding that true self, is the work of contemplation. Contemplative experience doesn’t rely upon something abstract, but it’s something practical and real and ordinary in the best sense of the word ordinary, something normal. In the New Testament, the teaching of Jesus in particular, the Kingdom experience seems to be what we mean by the contemplative experience. When Jesus talks about the Kingdom, he talks about childlikeness: “Unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s this childlike quality that makes it possible for us to enter, and live in, continually, the contemplative dimension of our faith. The most basic reality is that reality we have as a child of God. Realising that, finding that true self, is the work of contemplation. This child of God that we are is called to be a fully mature child. Karl Rahner has a marvellous essay somewhere on this quality of childlikeness. He says that the quality of a child, ‘childliness’, he says, is openness. The quality of an adult child, a fully mature child, is unbounded openness. A very wonderful description of sanctity: unbounded openness. That’s a definition or understanding of holiness, wholeness, that allows many different types of holiness, many different ways of entering this contemplative experience. We cannot be whole unless we are the unique person that we are. Following a discipline doesn’t mean crushing our individuality or becoming something that we are not. But to be an adult child, to be our true self, is to be unboundedly open to the unique person that God has created us to be, and that conditions have formed us to be, with our wounds and handicaps. Rahner says God will be found by anyone who has the courage to keep up his childhood, the courage to remain open to this essential identity that we are. He says this: “A human person is a child embarking on the wondrous adventure of remaining a child forever, or rather, becoming ever more fully a child. His maturity and his divinisation are just ever fuller actuations of his childliness.” So even our divinisation is simply the full development of our essential identity as a child of God. We can see the relationship between contemplative experience and contemplative being and childlikeness in a child. Children are natural contemplatives in some ways; not fully conscious, but because of their relative lack of self- 10 consciousness, they are able to enter fully into what we call the contemplative dimension. The less self-conscious we are, the more contemplative we are, and the more ordinary and open we are as well. It’s a very wonderful thing to pray with children. We have many small groups of children, meditation groups, usually started by parents who have been meditating for some time, and who feels a natural sense of wanting to introduce their children as early as possible to this dimension of prayer. It’s a wonderful thing to see that and to see how naturally, how ordinarily a child can sit in stillness and in silence and do this inner work that Cassian describes, the work of saying the mantra. The child doesn’t necessarily find it easy, but they find it natural. The wonderful quality of the child is, of course, they don’t ask lots of questions about, you know, is this infused, recollection, grace, the prayer of simplicity. They don’t ask all these theological or psychological questions. They do the work. They are simple. It has, I think, a very wonderful formative effect upon their faith. They have this natural capacity for pure prayer, the experience of God, the Kingdom. This capacity tends to be either lost or overshadowed as they get older. It seems that part of their religious formation should be exposure to this. As we do the work (The Cloud of Unknowing always calls this pure prayer the work), and as our true self is realised more clearly, certain changes appropriate to that of a child, an adult child, begin to appear within us. These are some of the qualities of a child. Innocence, for example. We associate innocence with childlikeness. For an adult, this innocence of the child would be, for example, purity of motive. We do things for simpler and simpler reasons. We come to a singleness of mind about what we do. We do it attentively. We do it without duplicity, without ulterior motives. We do it with simplicity. Generosity is the characteristic of a child, at least sometimes. As a child of God, as an adult child, this generosity is expressed in the way we give ourselves, the way we surrender, the way we abandon ourselves if you like, the way we can commit ourselves. All those are expressions of this generosity of a child. The ability to respond to the call of the gospel to let go of everything, poverty of spirit in the inner life, depends upon this quality of generosity. We believe that if we give everything, if we leave everything behind, we will receive it back a hundredfold. But the problem is believing that often makes us prepared to give it all up provided we get it back a hundredfold. We lay down a condition. We say, I’ll give all this up, provided I get this back. That is a lack of generosity. Coming to that generosity is the work of grace. It’s the work of simplification. A child is characterised also by courage, a lack of fear, at least in a healthy child. Usually the courage of a child is so great the parents have to look after it, to protect it. But it’s the courage too that comes to us as a child of God, as we realise our true self, the courage to risk our life, to lay down our life, to let go of our familiar identity. There’s a wonderful phrase in Heraclitus in the early Greek philosophers: “If we can stop thinking about our troubles, it will generate courage.” Taking the attention off our problems, our troubles and worries, moving beyond the egocentric state, generates courage. There I suppose, is the teaching of Jesus, as he tells us so often in the Gospels: particularly in the Resurrection appearances, not to fear; in the sermon on the mount, not to worry, neither worry nor fear. These aren’t just consoling remarks. These are injunctions to us not to worry, to move beyond fear and worry, which we do in our prayer 11 Finally, the quality of truth, truthfulness. A child naturally tells the truth; a child loses its innocence, or its innocence is compromised, when it encounters for the first time the dishonesty of adults. We recover that truthfulness through our prayer, within the contemplative life, because we lose our fear. Our fears gradually decrease – the fear of being known, the fear of being vulnerable. We hide the truth because we are frightened. We fear revealing our false identity. But if we knew that our false identity is false, if we know that our ego is not our true self, then we don’t mind letting the ego be seen a little bit. We don’t feel we have to cover up, to appear better than we are. That’s humility. Truthfulness is simply humility or self-knowledge, allowing ourselves to be seen, to know ourselves as we really are. Those are some of the practical changes which would be observable, at a psychological and at a social level, as a result of this work of pure prayer.

5 Christ in Contemplative Experience

This is from the Gospel of John: He entered his own realm, and his own would not receive him. But to all who did receive him, to those who had yielded him their allegiance, he gave the right to become children of God, not born of any human stock or by the fleshly desire of a human father, but the offspring of God himself. And so the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us and we saw his glory, the glory as befits the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:10-14) We’ve been talking about the way of pure prayer, transcending our ego and the contemplative experience. What is the meaning of Christ in transcending our ego and the contemplative experience? It’s clear that the contemplative experience is not restricted to those who believe in Christ. That’s a very important question for us as modern people to address. This coming era is the era where Christianity will meet the other great world religions, and it will be as epoch-making an encounter as the days when the early Judaeo-Christians met the Greeks. It will be another great stage in the universalisation of the gospel when we are able to express the Christian experience and meaning in terms and symbols other than those we have been familiar with: a contemporary encounter with other religions in which we often meet people who have transcended their ego, examples of great holiness, people who are living and pursuing a contemplative life. It raises the question of where Christ for us gives meaning, and ultimate meaning, to our experience. In pure prayer, for the Christian, Christ is the centre of the whole experience. We have been taking about the basic theology of Christian prayer, that we are leaving our own prayer behind. As we leave our ego behind, we leave behind that which can say, ‘I’ or ‘mine’. So if we are really practising a prayer that takes us beyond our ego, it doesn’t make sense anymore to say this is ‘my prayer’. That intuition was recognised by the Desert Fathers when they said that the monk who knows he is praying, who is self-conscious about ‘my own prayer’, has not yet really begun to pray, has not reached the full purity of prayer. Yet in pure prayer, although Christ is the centre, Christ is not an object of thought because there is no thought. The mind becomes still. Christ is not an object of our imagination. We are moving beyond the realm of the imagination, beyond thoughts and images. We’re not speaking to Christ in words. We are becoming silent, leaving all words behind. Yet, experience shows that our meditation, our pure prayer, is deepening our personal relationship with Christ continually. Deepening our understanding and our experience of our relationship, indeed our union, with Christ, the union with Christ that we experience and discover at the level of our true self, in other words, beyond the ego. To experience relationship at the level of our true self involves moving beyond a sense of duality or separateness. If I meet you at this level 13 of our true self, then we are not conscious of separation; we are conscious of a union, love. This is the fruit of meditation practised in Christian faith. Pure prayer deepens our knowledge and love of Christ. Indeed this pure prayer, practised with Christian faith and in a Christian context clarifies, makes clearer who Christ is. We begin to see Christ in a more and more universal sense. We certainly meet Christ within the terms of our own culture, our own vocation. But the Christ we meet within our own culture, within our own tradition, is the universal, cosmic Christ who fills every culture, and can manifest himself and mediate himself through any tradition. We must meet Christ as the personal presence in ourselves. That is the most authentic. We will never be fulfilled, we will never be satisfied, we will not have reached our goal until we have met this presence which is within ourselves. It is not enough for us to meet Christ indirectly as it were through the outward signs of our religion, our practice or of our culture. All of these are signs pointing us towards this deepest, most personal encounter with Christ within ourselves. We meet Christ most purely and authentically at the level of the personal, within the relationship we have with ourselves, why we have to do the work of selfknowledge and purification, ascesis, get into a good relationship with ourselves. And also we meet Christ within our relationship with others. The Christ we meet is the risen Christ, the present Christ. The figure of Jesus that we encounter in the New Testament, in scripture or in theology and thought, is more of an indirect encounter. It’s of great value and importance, but not as purely personal, or as purely real, as the Christ we meet at this personal level of relationship. But I think we come to value the historical Jesus expressed in the words of scripture more as a result of our meditation, our pure prayer. Meditation leads to a deeper reading of scripture, a deeper intuitive understanding of what the words mean, what those inspired words are mediating to us. Cassian says this very clearly, that one of the fruits of this pure prayer is that we will come to read scripture as if we were the author of it; in other words, more and more at the level of experience. The experience in scripture is resonating with our own personal experience. By letting go of the images and thoughts at the time of meditation, we come back to those images and thoughts at the time of lectio with a great deal more to gain. The word is indeed incarnate in scripture, as the early fathers said. But our ability to recognise and relate to the incarnate Word in scripture depends on the depth of our personal encounter with the Word in our hearts. Scripture is a kind of mirror of what is within our hearts personally. The historical Jesus in scripture mirrors or reflects back the risen Jesus within our own hearts. Prayer itself is not a theological exercise. It is so damaging to Christian faith if we limit prayer just to the level of mental prayer, to discursive meditation, to thoughts and images and imagination. Those are the tools of theological thought and exploration, valuable but not enough. Prayer is not a theological exercise, although according to Evagrius, it makes us true theologians. “The one who truly prays is a theologian, and a theologian is one who truly prays,” he says. Prayer is itself though an encounter, a personal encounter. Redemption is the result of a meeting, a personal encounter, rather than an exchange of ideas or opinions or views. And the whole person is involved in this kind of encounter, in a redemptive encounter of this kind. Our journey to wholeness and holiness is inseparable from our 14 relationship with Christ. Christ indeed heals us psychologically, spiritually, maybe even physically, in order for us to come to a wholeness in which we can know him fully, and be redeemed by that knowledge.

6 The Prayer of Faith

Meditation is pre-eminently the prayer of faith. We know Christ, not through thought primarily, but through faith. Meditation, pure prayer, is the prayer of faith. Leaving thoughts and words and so on behind leaves us with the word, the mantra, the act of pure faith. It makes us realise by experience what faith is. Faith is not our systems of belief. Faith is not the same as our theology. Faith is our relationship with another person. Faith is our capacity to be in relationship. We talk, for example, about being faithful to our community, faithful in marriage, faithful in friendship. Faith is the capacity we have, and the gift we have, to be in relationship. It is only when we are in relationship that we can know another person. It’s not so much the thoughts that we have, but the relationship that we have. Most of us received the beginning of our relationship with Christ as children. Jesus was like a family friend, one of the grown-ups in our families, friend of our parents, and priests, and teachers. As we mature, we come to know this family friend as a mature person in our own right, to know him personally. Faith grows and develops. Our faith in Jesus is built not upon what is said about him so much as what he has said about himself, built upon his own self-knowledge. That is where his authority lies, just as our own faith in ourselves, for example, is built much more upon what we know about ourselves than what others may say about us. What Jesus has said about himself is this: the seven I am of Jesus: I am the true vine. (John 15:1) I am the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) I am the door. (John 10:7) I am the bread of life. (John 6:35) I am the good shepherd. (John 10:14) I am the light of the world. (John 8:12) I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25) What those terms suggest to us is Jesus revealing himself to us, not as an object of worship, not as a cult figure, but as a teacher calling for our total reverence and love; as a guide calling for our total trust and abandonment; as a brother; as a friend: “I call you servants no longer but friends.” One who we know loved his own in this world, one who is not a moralist but a liberator, a teacher of the Way, a guide, a door, the Way, with him in the spirit to the Father. We most effectively mature our faith by prayer, by depth of prayer. Our prayer is always deepening and maturing. We move perhaps beyond certain types of prayer, not because they are bad, but because we simply grow into a deeper relationship with Christ. Maybe when we begin this relationship, we rely to a large extent upon 16 photographs, mental images of this person. But, as we mature ourselves, as we become more capable of human relationship, then this photograph, mental image of Christ, gives way, more and more, to the encounter with the real person. This encounter that occurs primarily at the level of our heart, our personal experience, then becomes wonderfully enriched in the Eucharist, in scripture, in community, all the other ways in which we also encounter this risen person of Jesus. The Spirit is constantly at work in us, preparing us to see him, to see Jesus, more and more clearly. The starting point I think is to know that Jesus is finding us, the lost sheep. Jesus talks far more in the Gospels about God seeking us than about the human duty of seeking God. Our faith in Jesus is built on this confidence, that he dwells within us, seeking us in the sense that by seeking us he draws us away from our ego into our true self. That’s the journey of Christian prayer: with Jesus, in the Spirit, to the Father. What he teaches us on prayer in the Gospel of Matthew for example, the sermon on the mount, points us towards this experience of the indwelling presence within our own hearts: In interiority, in faith, in trust, in attention, “set your mind upon the kingdom”, and in peace, beyond worry and anxiety. He teaches us the way of pure prayer. But above all, he teaches us to pray by praying with us and in us. Christ is at prayer in us. The mind of Christ, the human consciousness of Christ in us. So Christ is at prayer in us through a mysterious union, and he is the master of prayer. The prayer of Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the perfect prayer of the human being. No one could do it better, and therefore he is the one who teaches us to pray. He is the master of pure prayer. He meditates within us, realising his true self as the Son in union with the Father, just as we realise our true self. Prayer that is in the spirit, his prayer beyond thoughts and words, beyond the ego, his true self, one with the Father, and simultaneously one with us – that’s the mystery of Christian prayer. Jesus, who is one with the Father, is present within each of us also, each of us uniquely and universally. To see him is to see the Father. So the starting point of Christian prayer is that we enter into the prayer of Christ through our union with his human consciousness. And we must find our true self in order to find him. We must leave self behind in order to follow him. This is from the Gospel of John again. So the Word became flesh. He came to dwell among us and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. Out of his full store, we have all received grace upon grace; for while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God’s only Son, he who is nearest to the Father’s heart, he has made him known. (Jn. 1:14, 16-18)


Our Trip to India – TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN

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Its been little over a week since we got back from our trip to South India. During our two week stay we met a lot nice sweet people who live in terrible bondage. What do I mean by “terrible bondage” Well you see the people we met in India live by the traditions handed down to them. These traditions include men and women never touching in public, men and women never sitting together in public, women wearing a sari whenever leaving the house, the cast system (a system by which you are born to a certain status in society), arranged marriages, the family of a daughter getting married paying a dowry to the husbands family (you don’t want a lot of girls if you are Indian). These are just a few of the traditions that the Indian people we met live by. As American we have our traditions that we live by. Privacy, not showing up to someone’s house expectantly, boys and girls dating, public displays of affection, the weekend for entertainment, driving everywhere, shopping malls, lots of church buildings, watching TV. Traditions in and of themselves are not necessarily wrong so what makes a tradition evil?

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Jesus said:

Matt.15:6-9 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
9 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”

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As an American in India it was fairly easy to spot some of the “precepts of men” that were being taught as Doctrines of God – but seeing the same thing in America is a little bit harder. In India one of the Pastors was rewarding some of the older women in the church because of the scarred knees that they had – the scarred knees were a sign of their dedication to God in prayer – this is obviously a “precept of men” who think that God wants you to suffer while speaking Him. One pastor, during the cold winter in the north had taken a blanket form an elderly gentleman that he was discipling. He told the disciple “You should only need the Fire of the Holy Spirit to keep you warm” the older man’s son begged for the blanket from the pastor but the pastor refused saying “We need men who are dedicated and on fire for the Lord.” This old disciple died the following week from illness. “All we need is the fire of the Holy Spirit” – Doctrine of God or precept of man?


The American Dream is to have a good job, own a nice house, have a nice car and a wife or husband and maybe 2 children one boy and one girl. This is American Tradition but is it “The Doctrine of God or precept of man?” The foundation of our nation is build upon a document called “The Declaration of Independence”. And we are a very independent people but is our independent culture invalidating the word of God for the sake of our tradition. As Christians we say we are “One in the bond of love” but do we really live this reality out. If I read about the early church I read about Oneness not just in word but in action – they shared everything they had with each other. Our culture calls that kind of life-style a cult. Is our American independent, capitalistic culture, Christian? Or is it a precept of man that is opposed to the very nature of God? I know many Christians who link Republican with Christian – Is the Republican platform a precept of man or the doctrine of God, not just parts of it, all of it, remember that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.

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In India it was easy to see Traditions that were against God because I was coming for a different tradition but the challenge for me is to see the equally harmful traditions that are right here at home. I don’t want to be one that Isaiah was talking about when he says: ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”


Living by the Spirit, Organically

Living by the Spirit, Organically

Rom.8:14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

How are we led by the Spirit?

What are disciplines of Christ?

What do we look for and how can we know that we are being led by the Spirit of God?

What does it mean to be free from the law of sin and death?

How can we walk in faith, walk in love and to be transformed in mind?

These questions and more will be what we look at (beginning Sunday Oct.4) not just in a study but in a practical everyday application of being able to recognize and hear the Spirit’s voice and walk these realities out.

The first letter Paul wrote was his letter to the churches that met in the Galatia territory. I think it is significant to understand the issue to which Paul was addressing in his writing of this “first” letter and first writing of what we know today as the New Testament.

After his greeting Paul writes Gal.1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ, [and are turning] to a different gospel.

Turning away from Him (Christ) to another gospel or as Paul says in vs.7 a changed Gospel of Christ.

How upset was Paul when dealing with the issue this letter is addressing?

Gal.1:9 if anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!

What is the Gospel of Christ?

The word Gospel simply means “Good News” Christ means “Anointed” to Anoint literally means to “cover in Oil”

Gospel of Christ = Great news you are going to be covered in the Holy Spirit both within you and without you. The Transformation is here and it is not only going to change things within you but it will also change things on the outside as well and also with all of creation being freed in the process.

Luke 8:1, 9-15 Soon afterwards He was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, Then His disciples asked Him, “What does this parable mean?” 10 So He said, “The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that Looking they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

The Parable of the Sower Explained (The Organic Nature of God in Man)

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 The seeds along the path are those who have heard. Then the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the seeds on the rock are those who, when they hear, welcome the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and depart in a time of testing. 14 As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. 15 But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.

The Secrets of the Kingdom – Right Here

Seed = God’s Word that is spoken and heard within your heart.

Path = Those who hear the Spirit’s voice within them, in their heart.

Thorns = Worry, desire for wealth, pursuit of pleasure

Good Ground or Good Path = Those who hear the Spirit’s voice within them believe it and live by it thus producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Christ & Matters of the Spirit.

Christ is One with many Parts – We all together form and manifest Christ on earth through the Spirit which speaks to us and leads us. This is a description of the working out of the organic nature of Christ on earth.

1 Cor.12:1-12 1 About matters of the spirit: brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know how, when you were pagans, you were led to dumb idols —being led astray. 3 Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything. 7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit,
to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit,

9 to another, faith by the same Spirit,
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,……….

11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each one as He wills.

12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.

This next story Jesus links intrinsically to His Gospel.

Matt.26:6-10 While Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had a serious skin disease, 7 a woman approached Him with an alabaster jar of very expensive fragrant oil. She poured it on His head as He was reclining at the table. 8 When the disciples saw it, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This might have been sold for a great deal and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a noble thing for Me. 11 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me. 12 By pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she has prepared Me for burial. 13 I assure you: Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Why and How is Jesus linking this story to His Gospel?

  • 1. After this acrion in vs.14 Then one of the Twelve—the man called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?” – This is what put Judas over the edge

  • All the Disciples saw this action as waste

  • Jesus described the action as a “Nobel Thing”

  • Jesus saw the action as a preparation for what was coming.

  • Jesus knew the action was coming from a heart that was listening to and responding to the voice of the Father.

This is Jesus gospel – That a man or woman a son of man can live by and walk in the Spirit and have a face to face relationship with God the Father. That a son or daughter of man does not simply live by bread alone but can really live by a relationship where he hears the words of his Father who is God. This gospel, this good news is not something Jesus simply preached but He lived it out in front of men to see. He lived it out right until the end when Jesus was killed. He said you don’t need to know the law to live a righteous life you can simply listen and follow the voice of our Father who lives within the hearts of all of His children. Jesus says “Please, follow my way – I have lived openly before you showing you the way to the Father – follow what I have shown and discover our Father who wants to know you face to face. I strongly urge you to follow this way and enter our Father’s kingdom here on earth just like it is in heaven.

Luke 16:14-16 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and scoffing at Him. 15 And He told them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight. “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it.

Rom.4:12-13 And he became the father of the circumcised, not only to those who are circumcised, but also to those who follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

It is Faith to hear the internal voice of the Father, believe it and do it – This is righteousness.  Faith is not following a book, tradition or law – Faith is hearing our Father God’s voice, believing it and following it.  To follow a book, tradition or law, even if it is from God, is death.  In the picture below who is following the Spirit and who is following a book???stephen stone


THE ESSENCE OF ASHRAM LIFE

THE ESSENCE OF ASHRAM LIFE

by Swami Sahajananda  (Br. John Martin)


Father Bede rarely talked about his inner experience

during his long life, except in the last four years after his

stroke in 1990 and in a few other instances such as the

recollection of his awakening to the divine Presence in the

natural world. Anyone familiar with the major events and

turning-points of his life, however, cannot but discern the

workings of grace in those extraordinary moments of his

earthly existence. It was grace that led him to take that

eventful walk on the last day of school before he went up to

Oxford, and revealed to him the Divine in and surrounding

nature; it was grace that inspired him to realize that God

worked in and through history as well as the cosmos. Grace

compelled him to return to Christianity, to become a

Catholic and to enter a monastery after his conversion. It

was grace also that guided his studies of oriental mysticism

and planted in his heart the desire to go to India in 1955. It

was grace that gave him the capacity to persevere there

through many trials even to the hour of his death.

Bede’s mysticism is accessible, however – particularly

in his later correspondence – in hundreds of letters to close

friends and disciples. Sifting through the vast details of his

experience, from his school days to his final illness, three

distinct but interrelated types of mystical awareness are

evident. They constitute the golden string of his inner being,

the rich unfolding of grace in his unique history.

The first type, natural contemplation, has already

been alluded to above. This kind of contemplation – that is,

the ability to perceive the divine Presence in nature –

One day as I was teaching Indian Philosophy to the

students at the Rosarian Philosophate in Trichy, one of the

students asked me, “Brother, what is the literal meaning of

ashram life?”. “I don’t want to tell you the literal meaning of

ashram life,” I replied. “Why?” the brother asked curiously.

“If I tell you the literal meaning of ashram life then you will

all come and join ashrams.” I said. There was a burst of

laughter.

The essence of ashram life consists in the word

“Ashram” itself. The word ashram can be divided into A –

Shram. Shram means hard work, struggle and conflict. A

Shram means no hard work, no struggle, no conflict, no

burden and no labouring. This is the literal meaning of

ashram life.

Ashram life is a life where there is no effort to

achieve something. It is a life of inner freedom, spontaneity

and effortless life. It is a life of freedom in the sense that

there is no desire to get anything more nor fear of losing

something.

THE GARDEN OF EDEN AND ASHRAM LIFE

Humanity is created for ashram life. The garden of

Eden is the first ashram that God created for humanity. To

live an ashram life is the natural state (sahaja) of human

beings. The ashram life of the first human beings is very

beautifully described in the book of Genesis. God created

humanity in his/her own image and likeness. God is Holy

and Whole so also he created human beings as holy and

whole. God is beyond time and space so also he created

human beings in his/her own image, in the sense that there

is something in the human beings which transcends time and

space. In God there is no conflict, there is no effort to

achieve anything. There is no struggle (shram). There is no

fear of losing something and there is no greediness to get

something more. By creating God does not get anything

more, by not creating God does not lose anything. The true

self of human beings is like that: a state of freedom and

creativity.

In the garden of Eden human beings were naked and

not ashamed. Physically it means they had no clothes on

their body. Spiritually it means they were empty, in an egoless

state. They were empty in each moment of their life.

They lived their life without creating an ego in themselves.

They lived the life of eternity, which is wholeness of life

where horizontal and vertical are united. They had no sense

of psychological time (it is because they were unfolding and

not becoming) but had only biological and chronological

time. They walked with God in the cool of the evening,

which means they had very intimate relationship with

God, God living in them and they living in God. God was

their subject, God was their Ego, they saw everything in and

through God, they did everything in and through God. They

had no ego, no centre in them. They were naked and not

ashamed. They had no guilt feelings. They had chaste

relationship with God. They were innocent in the sense that

they did not know good and evil.

In the garden of Eden they did not make any effort to

achieve something. They lived according to their created

nature or given nature. They had nothing to achieve – only to

live. They had no conflict and psychological suffering

because they had no psychological time. Psychological time

belongs to the fallen state and is the source of psychological

misery and suffering. They lived their life naturally,

spontaneously and freely. They were following the natural

path (Sahaja Marga). Their journey can be described as:

from eternity to eternity;

from wholeness to wholeness;

from holiness to holiness;

from one unfolding to another unfolding.

We can say that they were living an ashram life which was

intended by God when God created them.

FALL AND SHRAM LIFE

But sin makes humanity to fall from ashram life into

shram life.The serpent which was on the tree was cursed by

God to crawl on its belly and dust shall be its food. A snake

raising its head (hood) represents wholistic consciousness

where vertical and horizontal dimensions are united. A

snake crawling on the ground represents horizontal

consciousness separated from the wholeness, which is the

consciousness of time: past, present and future. Eternity falls

into time. Through human beings the

creation participated in wholistic

relationship with God. When

humanity fell, creation also fell from

wholistic relationship into horizontal

consciousness of time.

Humanity has been cursed to

live the life of shrama, suffering,

hard work. Woman has to suffer

pains and the equality of the sexes

has been lost and the woman

becomes dependent on man. Man

has to toil and eat in the sweat of his

brow all the days of his life. The land will bring forth thorns

and thistles. Man has to live by the sweat of his brow. And

cursed is the ground because of the human beings’ fall.

The life of wholeness falls into a life of fragmentation;

The life of holiness falls into a life of unholiness;

The life of being falls into a life of becoming;

The effortless life (ashram) falls into a life of effort

(shram).

By the sweat of his face man has to live. Our spiritual

journey has become the life of becoming, life of conflict,

life of struggle, life of good and evil. The more we try to

become good, the more thorns and thistles are found in us.

Our spiritual life is the life of shram, struggle and conflict.

And this life of shrama has been passed on from generation

to generation. This is the burden which humanity is carrying

from generation to generation.

THE CALL OF JESUS

Jesus is calling humanity to free itself from this

spiritual life of burden or shram, and enter into the life of

lightness or ashram. “Come to me, all you who labour and

are burdened (shram) of heart. I will give you rest (ashram).

Learn from me, I am meek and humble of heart…for my

yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mt 11:28-30

Jesus himself might have gone through this life of shramlabour

and discovered the life of ashram or rest, which is the

real nature of all human beings. He might have seen how

humanity has been carrying this burden. Religion, which is

supposed to relieve people from this burden, has itself

become the agent of burdening people. He had compassion

on the people, so he is asking people to come to him

because he is living the life of rest, ashram. He is the living

ashram, so that he can free them from this burden and give

them rest and peace. “I am meek and humble of heart”, he

says. He is meek and humble because he has no ego, his Ego

is God. He is empty and naked. For his yoke is easy and his

burden is light.

It does not mean that Jesus takes away one type of

yoke and places another, lighter yoke. What he means is that

in the garden of Eden humanity was

meek and humble without ego. The

desire to become like God started an

ego in them which culminated in

their fall. The ego is like a bull on

whose neck a yoke has to be placed.

And this yoke becomes a burden.

But Jesus says, “I am meek and

humble,” I have no ego, I have no

yoke on me. I want to purify your

ego, make you meek and humble so

that there is no need of placing a

yoke and there is no possibility of

placing a yoke, either light or burdensome. Where there is

no ego there is no need of a yoke. So Jesus came to free

humanity from the ego; then he liberates humanity from all

the yokes and burdens. He makes it possible for humanity to

live the natural life of the garden of Eden, which is the life

of egolessness and thus ashram life.

God created humanity for ashram life. But sin

brought down humanity from ashram life to shram life.

Jesus is calling humanity to come back to this ashram life

which is the garden of Eden, the first ashram created by

God.


Be Still and Know we are all One

Be still and know that I am God Ps.46:10 – This is one of the lines in the Psalmist song of decent. In another translation it says “Cease striving and know that I am God”. In the NT Paul writes “1 Timothy 4:10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”

stillness_in_motion

Do we stop striving or do we strive? I have come to believe that the answer is yes, we stop striving and we strive.

I have found that the practice of stillness is a monumental effort toward effortlessness. A paradox, why would seemingly non-activity take so much effort. Try it, even now, close your eyes and still your mind – think of nothing for one minute…… Not so easy is it, if you can get there, you usually can’t hold non-thought for more than a couple of seconds, and then thinking begins to kick in. The mind is something that never stops, good thing, because it is what keeps our lungs breathing and our heart beating and many more activities. The sub-conscience part of our mind does many things to keep our bodies functioning. The purpose of stillness then is not to stop the mind but to still the conscience mind, the one that does so much thinking, learning, judging and condemning.

Paul wrote about what he was praying in Eph 1:18 – I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

red-eye-heart

The EYES OF YOUR HEART many be enlightened. Notice that it is not the eyes of the mind that he is praying be enlightened. What are Heart Eyes? With our natural or physical eyes our mind sees the physical world around us. Our eyes look outward. The Heart eye sees what is inward. With this eye we see the unseen or spiritual world. It is in the practice of stillness that we are made aware of light within and the eyes see. .

Light and Eye go hand in hand because without light the eye has no function, it cannot see. Eyes that do not see are not necessarily blind (i.e. without the ability of any sight) they may simply be in darkness and unable to function. This why Paul prays that the heart eyes be enlightened so they can function.

Jesus says to the Pharisees in Matt.23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides, ..” He says this because they are in the Light (Jesus) externally yet they do not see. But remember this blindness can be healed.

To be Enlightened or To be in the Light.

Jesus said: Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either Go From now on sin no more.” Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John.8:10-12

Those in the Light do not walk in the darkness of division and condemnation. Paul picks up this action by Jesus when he writes Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom.8:1 Usually this is read to say that those who believe in Jesus are not condemned but I want you to see the expansion of this that not only is the believe not condemn but he condemns no one as well.

tunnel2

1 Timothy 4:10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”

Do you realize that Jesus has already saved all of mankind! Do you know how special it is for those of you who believe it.

Stillness does not bring about salvation, unity or peace – The practice of stillness simply places you in the light of awareness of what already is. And what is? One is! There is no division, We are One. The one who says he loves God but does not love his brother is not divided from his brother he is simply unaware or unenlightened to the reality of what is. And what is the reality? He is One with his brother – Even if he believes he hates his brother all he is doing is not loving himself.

John wrote in 1Jn.2:9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Today Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, Hindu’s, Taoists, Nations and peoples all over the world live in the noisy darkness of division based on what they think and believe with their minds. Be Still, Be in the Light and Know what is, Know the Oneness!

WE ARE ONE