I Wish I’d Said That…

[I have found all this to be utterly true. I’ve also found it almost impossible to wrap words around. I didn’t want to weaken the words by trying to restate them. So here they are, for your consideration. — LM]

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Exploring the Mystics
with James Finley

Only Love Is Real
Friday, October 13, 2017

Guest writer and CAC faculty member James Finley continues sharing insights from John of the Cross. Take a few moments in the midst of your busy day to slow down, to enter into the quiet, and to read these words from your heart center, without judgment or needing to fully understand with your logical brain.

Just as with Teresa of Ávila’s The Interior Castle, by the very first paragraph of John of the Cross’ Prologue to The Ascent of Mount Carmel you get the sense that the words are coming from some very deep place from inside of him—or really through him—that intimately accesses a deep place in us:

A deeper enlightenment and wider experience than mine is necessary to explain the dark night through which a soul journeys toward that divine light of perfect union with God that is achieved, insofar as possible in this life, through love. The darknesses and trials, spiritual and temporal, that fortunate souls ordinarily undergo on their way to the high state of perfection are so numerous and profound that human science cannot understand them adequately. Nor does experience of them equip one to explain them. [1]

One of the operative principles of love is that love does not rest as long as there is an inequality in love. In seeing the beloved down, the lover is moved to lift the beloved up. John says the infinite love of God will not rest until you are equal to God in love. Even though you would be absolutely nothing without God, God will not rest until you are as much God as God is God. God will not settle for a trace of inequality. In the “dark night of the soul,” we are weaned away from the ego’s finite ideas and feelings about God. We come to know that no idea about God is God. We are also weaned from our ideas about our self as being a finite, separate self apart from God.

Not everyone experiences this kind of union in this life. But in some lives God does not wait until death to begin the consummation through a dark night of the soul. In this nondual state, although I am not God, I am not other than God either. Although I am not you, I am not other than you either. Although I am not the earth, I am not other than the earth either. All things are unexplainably, invincibly one in endless diversity forever.

The awakening of this state on this earth does not mean you are holier than others. Rather, you awaken to how unexplainably holy everybody is. The mystic—that is, the person who is ripe with this love consciousness that’s born in the night—is not more holy but is granted a greater realization of the infinite holiness of the simplest of things.

Then, in some strange way, when you die, nothing will happen, because you’ve already died to the illusion that anything less than love is real; and you are aware that Infinite Love is loving you endlessly and giving itself away as your life.

Gateway to Silence:
Fall deeper into love.

References:

[1] John of the Cross, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (Institute of Carmelite Studies Publications: 1991), 114-115.

Adapted from James Finley, Intimacy: The Divine Ambush, discs 1 and 6 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), CD, MP3 download.

 

Organised Religion

What is organised religion?  How does one know when one meets organised religion?  Does organised religion come with a sign that says “Organised Religion: enter here”?

I have a confession. This real community of real people connected by WordPress and the internet … I get more “God” here than I have found elsewhere.

In this community I do not know what job you do … what clothes you wear … how big or small your house … how big or small your ego … how high or low on the pecking order.  I know nothing about you – yet I Know You.

I know you because you know me.  And we know each other because we both come with our “spiritual button” exposed.  And because of that I can only connect with your spiritual button – and you can only connect with mine.  And once we have connected in a spiritual place – the rest does not matter.  And if we do not connect in that spiritual place – the rest does not matter (for a different reason).

Imagine a church where that was true.

Where all were all blind to clothes, colour, income, titles, pecking orders, length of service, cliques and clans.  Imagine that place where (because each connected spiritually) the rest did not matter.

Have you been in such a place.  Did it stay that way?  Did you stay that way?

Yet in this internet community I have “met” and connected spiritually with many.  And there are many I would trust with my life.  Who I would trust with my wallet.  Whose eccentricities and foibles – whose humanity and selflessness – I would accept and embrace.

And you might not be “that” really – or not all the time – or not with everyone. But once we each connect our spiritual buttons – the rest does not matter. And I think “that” is what organised religion is not.  And I think that having experienced what organised religion is – I miss what organised religion is not.

I have found in this internet community a church that is “a church”.

Where all walks of life, all lifestyles of living, all loving of lovers – where the anger of dislikes, the passion of anoraks, the tradition of religion, the trendy of non-religion – where the ones disinterested, the ones empowered, the ones disenfranchised, the ones franchised – where all ARE welcome.

I find that this community is “church”.

Where we meet as we are.  Where we are each met as we are.  Where I can change because of you and because of you allowing me.  Where I can be safe because having connected spiritually – the rest simply does not matter.  Where I can be safe because others will see that I am.  I have yet to find another place where that is true (other than family).

Yet this community is ever-changing.  Some come every day, others come and go, others come and then leave.

And the doors are always open – and someone is always here.

If this is not church, then I do not know church at all.

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What can I do?

The End Times

I have seen the “end times” as a recurring theme in this community. So before writing any more I want to admit to a huge frustration with the topic of the “end times”.  Only because I am living in the “now times”.  I cannot live in the “end times” – only the “now times”.  The now times like today and a selection of news items scanned in less than 20 minutes.

The Nile(s).  Historically (and today) a source of water for several countries. Yet increasingly fought over politically. Population increase, commercial and industrial needs, waste and sewage dumping, political leverage within and across countries in that region.

Weinstein.  A power magnate sought and feted.  The “what goes in Hollywood stays in Hollywood” now a feeding frenzy of “what goes in Hollywood damaged me and I want the world to know”.  Yet another abuse of power accepted because that’s “how they do things around here” (and because which aspiring wannabee will choose to be consigned to anonymity rather than celeb status).

Child Welfare Services (England and Wales).  Once again at crisis point.  Once again too many cases, too much workload, not enough resources.  90 children a day being taken into care.  Kids slipping through the net.  Yet no mention of parents who have created life having any responsibility.  That ownership has been quietly acquired by the State.

Prisons.  Same as for Child Welfare Services.  Yet no one is asking why the prisons require so many staff (whose numbers have been cut).  Why so many human beings need to be locked-up out of sight and mind, until they hit the news and their frustration is used to bang the drum of Government cuts leading to unsafe prisons.

Brexit.  The interminable politicking and showmanship – devoid of humanity – rumbling on.  Business as usual with leaks and whispers and “it’s them not us”.  No one wishing to connect – each side wishing to win (whatever that means).

Trump.  The world’s unhealthy obsession with nitpicking  celeb status.  This time Melania and Ivana.   Now a “first lady fight”.  The “fluff in my belly-button” stuff – because oh, how we like to topple those we think (or everyone else thinks) should be toppled.

And yet the end times tea-leaf-readers look for the “Evil One” and whether the “Evil One” is ticking the right tick-boxes yet (as described in the bible).

And yet if I was the “Evil One” why would I be so predictable … ?

I might infuse the mechanism of state with increasing complacency.  I might start with the “thin end of the wedge” so no one notices.  I might use a financial crisis – I might encourage making easy money available to all – I might (when the inevitable crash comes – again) encourage two targets of blame: individuals like you and me (because we all like easy money – and we all took it – so we might hate the bankers – but we know deep down that we are as much to blame), or the bankers rather than you and me – because they were growing fat off my loans and mortgage repayments (that I could not – so did not repay) – and they took our houses and lives – so they deserve everything they get.

And I might also encourage this global digital connectivity through social media.  Meaning that anything anywhere brings instant opinion and disgust (in less than 141 characters).  Until the next voyeur spectacle – the next cough – the next sneeze – the next “I am offended” trending topic.  Just how distracting is that?

Because a “side benefit” is that what happens between me and my neighbour(s) can be ignored.  Because that would mean speaking face-to-face with the possibility of hassle – looking silly  – being told something I could not answer (whilst still looking good).  Far easier to diminish my neighbour with a meaningful “Some PEOPLE!” on social meeja!

I might just encourage individual relationship with greed.  Because how effective has all “this” become at immuning each one of us to the humanity of each situation?   And as a mechanism for “caring overload” (with the predictable “caring suspension” backlash) … just how effective this is.

All this cumulative noise … ?  Look at the “What can I do … ” response –

“I am just one person … we are just one small group … one tiny community … one small region … one country dependent on trade with others … one alliance who can’t afford to offend that trading bloc over there … one something (even on a global scale) unable to bring about change because … We have too much to lose.”

And when it comes to losing out – then “we” have a standard of living to protect.  “We” have too much to lose.  “We” would risk everything.  “We” should just let them get on with it – while “we” look after our own.  And that happy place for the “Evil One” now reaches into so much of our living.  So any list I propose is sure to offend many who will respond with “How very dare you!

The end times?

Is that not just part of the “bigger picture” distraction?

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And why here?  Why “this” on Church Set Free?

Because I think “The Church” (not buildings and institutions but “us”) is more and more and more in and of this world – which I see expressed (more and more) as …

“I am just one person … we are just one small group … one tiny community … one small region … one small church … one denomination … one something (even on a global scale) unable to bring about real change because … We are not enough. I am not enough.”  

That’s why. 

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Follow me

If I can only “follow Christ” better by selling everything and becoming one of the poor, if I can only “follow Christ” better by withdrawing from this world in one form of retreat or another, if I see myself needing the desert of distance from that which is comfortable and normal, if I need to go to church to be close to God … If  I “need” something I have not yet got in order to “follow Jesus” more closely –

Why might that be?

 

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I sit here with a job, an income, a home and family.  I sit here looking out on the digital world through my television, my computer, my smart phone.  I walk with those who do not believe a God exists as defined and validated by the sacred texts of religion.  I walk with those who the church defines sinners, deems the lost, names the unchurched.  I talk with those who name themselves something that makes sense only to them.  I laugh with those who see the world through a different lens.  I live with those who do not speak with me nor I them.

For my neighbour has the choice to live as they see fit no matter what I believe and no matter who “I follow”.  For I do not have to become poor to connect with “the poor”.  I do not have to become my neighbour to love my neighbour.

I do not have to smell unwashed.  I do not have to live as they live nor they as me.  For I think that not “following” better.  I think that pretending. I think that withholding.  I think that not connecting.  I think that sampling.  Like a dj on decks providing for someone else.  Providing for the listeners.  But yet apart.

How do I follow?

I think by not following at all.

I think that I become a follower when I become who I am.

I think that I become a follower when becoming who I am allows you to become who you are.

I think I become a follower when I see no difference in your colour, your country, your income, your power, your religion, your faith or your absence of faith.

I think I become a follower …

By not following at all.

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I will

 

 

Dear Father

Just like when I buy a different car – I then see the same make everywhere when I never did before, so the same when I name myself compartmentalised or stigmatised – I then see compartments and stigma where I never before.

I will see only with love – I will speak only with love – I will hear only with love – I will feel only with love – so that I may then see me only with the love that you see me – and that I may then see others only with the love that you see me.

(and when others do compartmentalise me – I will see their compartment only with affection and love as you do)

Love you
((hugs))

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