Saturday, November 10, 2012

Knowing What We Know--And Trusting It

You all have heard it said how many times now, “There is a reason for everything.” Well. I don’t think there is a reason for anything. Nothing has to be what it is. Everything could be something else. Nobody has to do what he or she does, except to the extent that we all operate out of complexes and insecurities and stuckness we developed in our childhood and youth—but there is no controlling power forcing us to do one thing and keeping us from doing another.
And if there is an earthquake, or a tsunami, or a tornado, or a war, or a drunk driver, or … It does not follow that the hand of any god was involved, directing the action, producing results and outcomes according to the omniscient plan of the god in question. And yet, and yet… I am very much confident that there is a will beyond our will at play in our lives, a purpose beyond our purpose calling us be aware of its presence and trust ourselves to the drift of its current. We have our agendas, but there are unconscious purposes we do not begin to grasp. Inner space is as vast as outer space.
And nothing has to be what it is. That malignancy? That heart attack? That fall that left your child paralyzed for life? NOT the design and plan of an almighty god! Stop thinking of the things that happen as being sent to us because we sinned and deserve to be punished—or because we are stupid and need to be taught a lesson—or because we shine and are being rewarded with goodness and grace. Stop thinking that things happen for a reason. Stop trying to answer the question, “Why did this happen to me?” Stop asking “Why?” And start asking, “What purpose could use even this to transform and make whole?” Start asking, “How can this possibly become a means of healing and grace in my life or in anybody’s?” And put yourself in the service of a purpose beyond our power to conceive—much less make sense of—much less understand—much less explain.
Transcendence is the first step to transformation. We transcend the madness of mindless destruction, chaos and evil when we trust ourselves to a purpose that can use even this to connect people with the ground of wholeness—the source of life and being. Of course, the power to do this lies beyond “because I say so,” but courses through the heart of your experience with life. You know the truth of the experience of a purpose beyond your own purpose at work in your life. I am not making this up or telling you something you have no knowledge of. What I’m saying here connects you with what you know to be true because you have experienced it, you have felt it, you have touched—and been touched by it.
You are not here, now, by your own hand. You had nothing to do with arranging the turning points in your life, where you might have gone some other way to some other outcome and been somewhere else now—if it had not been for an unexplainable event, or act, or word at just the moment you needed such to turn things one way and not another, and now here you are. Not by your own doing. There is more than you at work in your life. And I’m saying be aware of it. Know what you know. Trust it. Align yourself with its thrust and direction. Be confident in the flow of its current, and look to it to carry you through all of the winds and waves of time to lands you cannot imagine and adventures beyond belief.
In other words, do not quit. Do not despair. Do not give up. You are not alone with your life. Open yourself to purposes beyond your power to conceive and say, “Okay. I’m with you. Show me what you got.” And see where it goes. What, exactly, do you have to lose?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Home Is Where The Heart Is Welcome No Matter How Different It Might Be

We have different ideas about how things are and what needs to be done about it. “You like to sleep with the window open and I like it closed, so good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.” Who is right—who is wrong—about the window being open or closed? We are different to the core. If we were all perfectly aligned with our core, we would still be different. Oneness at the level of the heart is not agreement about the window being opened or closed.
I have a Tibetan singing bowl that I used, before I retired from the ministry, to begin and end ten minutes of silence in the early Sunday service. We had a Vietnamese Buddhist monk address the congregation at one point and I asked him to bless the bowl. He agreed to do so but said to me, “We Vietnamese Buddhists do not need this for meditation. It is a Tibetan tradition. We go straight into the meditative state.” There you are. Buddhist denominations.
Oneness is not agreement. Like minds like to sleep at different room temperatures and take different approaches to entering meditation. What are the things we all need to agree to? What are the things we can be free to do differently? It’s important to agree about what we can disagree about.
There are women who are pregnant and who, for various reasons, cannot carry their pregnancy to term. They need the option of having an abortion. There are gay people who are in loving, committed, monogamous relationships with each other. They need the option of marriage with full rights and privileges included. There are illegal immigrants in this country who need the option of legitimacy—perhaps “Economic Refugee” status—and ways of working out the details of their residency for the good of all concerned.
The rules we agree to honor and live by have to take our differences into account and cannot mandate bell ringing or window closing upon all without regard for individual needs and interests. We have found ways of making exceptions regarding how things are to be done for Amish and Mennonite communities. It is not asking too much to think that we might do the same thing for people of different persuasions regarding how things are and what needs to be done about it. The greater the number of differences we can allow and still live together in caring, respectful, ways is the chief characteristic of a place I could call home.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Making the Unconscious Conscious

You know all those affairs you have had, are having, or think about having? It’s your Soul saying, “How about me, baby?” Or, it’s your Soul seeking comfort and consolation in the arms of Love. Either way, Soul is at the bottom of it, behind it, beyond it, wondering when you are going to wake up and understand.
Soul communes with us, communicates to us, through projections. One way we see Soul is in the form of actual or imaginary lovers. We have to learn to see Soul in the person of the other person. What does she/he have that we need beyond the pleasure of sexual attention? What is the source of our attraction to THIS person and not the one sitting next to her/him, or standing behind, or in front, of her, him? What sets THIS person off, makes THIS person “hot”? Why THIS person and not that one, or that one over there?
We have to do the work of making the Unconscious Conscious here. What is trying to come to life in our Unconscious? What is striving to become Conscious in our Unconscious? What is struggling to be born in us and through us into the world?
When we make the Unconscious Conscious, we bring forth into our actual, physical, life, qualities and characteristics that were latent in our Unconscious, waiting to be born. We make the Unconscious Conscious by becoming Conscious of certain aspects of the Unconscious and giving them expression in our life. We exhibit them and make them a part of our way in the world. We integrate them into our life and they become and aspect of who we are. Of who we now are, which is who we have always been, and who we will be.
Carl Jung said, “We are who we always have been and who we will be.” We make this statement a reality as we make the Unconscious Conscious. This is our work. We live to make the Unconscious Conscious in the time left for living. This is the Hero’s Journey, the Spiritual Quest, the Search for the Holy Grail and the Land of Promise, and the work of Enlightenment—bringing the Unconscious forth into the light of day, making the Unconscious visible and apparent in the context of our life. Incarnating God.
The work of the Incarnation is this very thing: Making the Unconscious Conscious, bringing God forth into Human life. The equation of God with the Unconscious is not as blasphemous and heretical as it seems. This is not to reduce God to human form, but to raise the Unconscious to the level of the Divine.
We all are both God and human being, the visible form of the Living God (to use Biblical terms most of us are familiar with). This phraseology is simply an attempt to say what is at stake in the experience of bringing forth the Unconscious, of making the Unconscious Conscious and apparent in “the field of action” (Joseph Campbell), in the world of space and time.
This requires us to re-think the standard view of God—to move beyond the doctrinal definitions (“God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in his [sic] being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth” – Answer 4, Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1647) into the realm and work of “the evolution of the idea of God.” We “grow our understanding of God” by “bringing God forth” in the field of action, which is our life in the world of space and time as we make the Unconscious Conscious.
Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate,” and,  “What is not brought to consciousness, comes to us as fate.” Or, to get us back to where we came in, it comes to us as an actual, physical affair with a hot little honey or a big manly hunk—or as an imaginary, fantasy, affair we dream of and wish could be real. What needs to be real is not a sexual liaison  with the subject of your desire, but the actual qualities/characteristics/aspects that you find desirable about the person who is attractive.
After the actual affair plays itself out, you will still be attracted to people exhibiting the qualities that are stirring within your own being, trying to come to life in your life—to be expressed and exhibited in your way with life. You will project onto them the you you are refusing to become, thinking that if you could only marry them everything would be wonderful. If you do marry one of them, you will soon enough wake up to all the things they also are and will wonder what in the world you were thinking when you married this person—who will likely be wondering the same thing about you. You both are in the same boat of trying to be completed in the other, while your individual wholeness depends upon your bringing forth into your individual lives who you are capable of becoming in the time left for living.
The work of Individuation (Carl Jung’s term) is the work of coming forth into who we are—into who we always have been and who we will be. It is the work of making the Unconscious Conscious—the work of waking up to who we are and who we also are—the work of integrating the opposites within into a complementary whole—the work of bringing ourselves forth into the field of action which is our life in the world of space and time. This is the work this is ours to do in the time left for living.
I’ll post some pointers here from time to time. Encouragement for the journey, cool water along the way. I hope you find it helpful.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I once knew a woman who read cracks in the sidewalk and deciphered secret messages revealing the real truth of life. “Cows are in charge,” she said. “Cows rule the universe. They give their orders to the clouds which carry out their will.” Every rational objection to her way of seeing had an immediate irrational counter explanation. Talking to her was an amazing experience. When she was on her medication, she was almost able to pass for a regular human being. I thought she was the most unusual person I’d ever met until I encountered a man who deciphered secret messages from newspaper photos.
Then along comes Michele Bachmann and the entire Tea Party contingent, hosing us all down with their rank irrationality. This is apples trying to talk to doorknobs here. Reason cannot say anything that irrationality cannot hang, draw and quarter. How does society function when the people who ought to be on heavy doses of medication aren’t? And the people who don’t need medication have to take it to deal with the people who do need it but don’t take it?
Who thinks Fracking is a good idea? Show of hands! Look around. See all those little hands waving? Belong to people not taking their meds. Who thinks Global Warming isn’t real? Show of hands! Same sad story.  Who thinks cows rule the world? Show of hands! It’s all the same, don’t you see? Facts have no impact upon people who know the real truth.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

God, Finding God, and the Search for God

The first thing that has to go is God. This is to say our idea of God, but with us there is no separation. To our way of thinking, our idea of God IS God, so God has to go. God is not a fact. God is the supreme value, the value before which all other values pale and recede. God is the Prime Necessity at the heart of being, and this Prime Necessity which we call God is indistinguishable from who we are called to be.

Joseph Campbell has said, “This whole idea is basic to Tantra: to worship a god, you must become that god. No matter what you call the god or think it is, the god you worship is the one you are capable of becoming.” Before you leap to call this heresy, consider:

Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.” “Yes, well,” you say, “Jesus was the Son of God.” To which I would say, “Jesus never called himself the “Son of God.” He always referred to himself as the “Son of Man,” a phrase that easily lends itself to the translation: “a human being.” Stay with me here. In John, Jesus prays, “That they (that is, his followers) might be one even as we are one, thou in me and I in thee.” And the command, which somehow didn’t make the top ten, that God gives the people in the Old Testament is “You must be holy as I am Holy!” And, again, "You must be perfect as I am perfect." In other words, "You must be as I am!" In the New Testament, Paul declares, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Clearly, the position that we must become the God we worship is not foreign to Biblical theology.

The call of God, then, is the call to become who we are, to be ourselves—our Self—the Self we are capable of being. The spiritual journey is the hero’s journey, the spiritual quest is the search for the Promised Land and for the Holy Grail. It is described by T.S. Eliot: We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.

The face of God is a mirror reflecting those who behold the face of God. Thou Art That. Amen! Ain't it so!