Imago Dei Revisited

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I affirm that I am a sinner.

Where I perhaps differ from other Christians in making this statement is that my affirmation of being a sinner is a reference to separation; my statement could otherwise be read as, “I affirm that I am separated from God.” 

Here, I depart, in some ways, from so-called “normative” Christian theology in that I do not see sin specifically in terms of moral failings. 

Restated, I do not see sin as being a matter of breaking arbitrary rules that have been set. The argument that the rules exist on a Divine level and somehow make sense there is unsuitable, and I reject it. 

In many ways, but not in every way, I also reject the concept of concupiscence as it states that humans are naturally disposed toward sinfulness or making moral failings. 

I do not deny that I fail, morally speaking, perhaps even on a daily basis, nor do I deny that I fall short of ideals and high standards I even set for myself.

These matters, in and of themselves, do not speak directly to separation from God. Rather, they are a by-product, an indirect consequence of separation from Holy Trinity. 

Direct consequences of the Great Separation are firstly the broken images, of which I will speak, and secondly the pain that arises from the broken images.

Two images of reality are broken in our separation from Holy Trinity: first, the Imago Dei itself. It is no wonderful that our modern Evangelical Protestant notion of God (and oftentimes, the older Catholic notion of God) appears as a war-like, angry father figure, what I term rather derisively as the “socially-sanctioned crystallized patriarchal archetype” of God. No wonder we have so many images of God that exist throughout time, all of them imperfect in some way, all of them symbolic in some way; light, when broken down, produces color, and while the color is beautiful, each individual ray does not tell the full story. 

So, we see in the glass darkly because our image of God is smashed, a broken mirror of the perfect Holy Trinity. 

But this is not the only issue; so, too, because we cannot clearly see the Imago Dei in its perfection, we cannot see the image of man clearly. Our image of ourselves is distorted in the same way.

I touched on this idea some time ago when I had a crying and laughing spell at an inner realization of God being man’s secret and man being God’s secret. Here we arrive at it again: we are deprived of two great secrets, one of which is God’s image, and one of which is man’s image, both damaged, though not permanently and irrevocably. 

So our Separation, for reasons that are not totally discernible, perhaps because we chose to leave, perhaps because we were forced to leave, perhaps because something malevolent forced us to leave, shattered both images of God and Man, and the pain of the continued brokenness is what forces us to seek a remedy for the pain. 

And this is where moral failing arrives: if we were to affirm the notion of concupiscence, let it be affirmed that it is only a poorly executed attempt to find relief from the Deep and Terrible Pain from which few have escaped save in the arms of Saint Death herself. We break rules thinking we are breaking the veils that keep us from Holy Trinity. 

And yet even our attempts to see Holy Trinity are misguided in so many ways; God is kept distant from us, God is kept in a broken image, several broken images, kept in a labyrinth of shattered mirrors that we might ever see our reflection and His reflection distorted and in our face, and what happens but that we bump into the glass and cut ourselves again and again. 

There is no greater oppression than to be separated from God. With God, all things are possible; God is our rest, our fullness, our peace, the fulfillment of every desire. 

I’m tired at this point in the mystic’s journey. I’m at a standstill in many ways. The pain of separation is too great. To carry on is to find the heaviness in my heart so great that it stops; to cease is to find the heaviness in my heart so great that it stops. 

And this pain brings to the light the evil within; pain begets evil. The more pain we feel, the more we cry out, the more we lash out, the more we lose control, desperately seeking something that will STOP the pain. 

If the death of me as an ego is the death of this pain, then I am ready. I am ready to die. 

Stevo

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Judgment and Chakras

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The chakra system so popular in Eastern religion makes a good deal of sense to me, yet the information we have on it is limited largely to a rehashed system that may or may not be accurate.

In fact, the more I work with my own chakras, the more I see how books on the subject have simply copied from other books and have nothing to do with someone’s experiencing the reality for themselves. 

Instead of somehow getting sidetracked, I think that it’s probably best for me to actually talk about what I need to talk about. 

The phrase “It’s in my nature to…” can be taken many ways, and it could mean anything from an instinctual personality characteristic to some kind of social conditioning of one’s personality. 

That being said, it’s in my nature to be critical. I’m a highly critical person with an eye for detail and botched details. In some cases, imperfections actually create more “character” in something, but that is not my point.

My root chakra, which is located in the area of the male body of the prostate gland, has a kind of addiction to self-judging and an aversion to forgiveness. One cannot expect God to forgive you or not judge you if you cannot first forgive or at the very least cease judging yourself. 

Why I judge myself could come from any number of reasons, but the apparently psychological masochism that comes along with the judging is something to be avoided or corrected. I like attacking and hurting myself, and as my fiance once said, “I’m addicted to feeling sorry for myself.” He later corrected himself and said that I’m addicted to being down on myself, to putting myself down, and that’s absolutely true.

So I have to correct this. The sense that comes with not judging myself is that I won’t need to judge others, either, and I can see a freedom on the other side of this psychological complex. 

The chakra system seems to largely be interwoven into itself. The more the energy is released from the root chakra, the more my heart and other malfunctioning chakras seems to loosen up. The pressure, the pain, the intensity lessens. I think that if awakening my root chakra is actually the solution to theosis, I’m going to be able to more easily see the big cosmic joke that God plays on everyone.

Stevo

Dreams

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The night before last, I had a vivid dream. I was on my way somewhere and ended up at a strange church that I realized was actually an Eastern Orthodox parish of some sort. Before I left, a ceremony took place with me and another man, a man who was certainly an Orthodox monk or priest- he had the style of beard and I’m almost certain a cap as well.

The ceremony happened this way: we stood, facing each other, in proximity, in embrace. As another priest read certain lines, we repeated them, and then we would make certain gestures. I specifically had to kiss the man on the lips at one point. 

I can’t remember much else of the dream, only this part, and that the image was so powerful that I needed to record it at some point.

Another interesting meditation upon which I’ve happened is this: I cannot love my enemies or forgive them…but if I imagine them as their infant, newborn selves, pure and undefiled, I can find myself much more easily not holding grudges or ills toward them. I can love them, show compassion to them…it’s really miraculous.

Stevo