Holy Eucharist at Home and Some on Bernadette Roberts

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Recently, I decided to join my husband’s Unitarian Universalist church. Several reasons contribute to my decision, but I’m not going to bother with them here.

I’ve decided to start doing the Holy Eucharist at home. No, I’m not an ordained priest, and so perhaps it isn’t “valid,” but here’s the thing: I’m tired of doing this idiotic dance of ordination. I’m tired of hoping, waiting, wishing for a Gnostic church to appear here.

It’s probably not going to happen.

In practice, I’ve gone to the UU for four years now, more than I ever did to the Episcopal Church- I still have fond memories of Saint Michael’s, of course.

At the end of the day, it’s just easier for us to go the UU and the come home and have Holy Communion.

And I’ve taken the liberty of creating a UU-esque Holy Communion as well. It has definite inspirations: the Liberal Catholic Church’s liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer, and a few Unitarian Universalist Holy Communions I found.

When I mentioned Holy Communion on Facebook, several UUs expressed interest in having this house Eucharist. I’m down for that while explaining to them a definite belief in the Priesthood of All Believers- I am no more or less a priest than anyone else around me.

I’m excited but have to do a few “test-runs” to make sure things will go smoothly. It’ll be nice to celebrate the liturgical  year with the people who are interested in it.

Shifting gears, I read a new article by Bernadette Roberts. I’m not sure how I missed it, but…let me say that whatever’s happened to me recently has also allowed me to see that I think she’s ridiculously aggressive in her approach and sometimes misrepresents other people’s positions. Some of her latest article sounded like word salad.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out how the Incarnation being God creating Its own Human Nature and uniting It to Itself has anything specifically to do with Jesus of Nazareth if the Incarnation is not also God the Son appearing in the flesh as Jesus Christ. I mean, why bother calling oneself a Christian?

But then I haven’t journeyed as far as Bernadette has.

The most bizarre aspect of my dear Bernadette to whom I’ve turned for so long is that she’s fairly unhelpful as far as what to actually do goes- are we to sit and still the mind? Receive Holy Communion frequently? A combination? Seek to help others? All these things and more? From everything I’ve gathered, she began having mystical experiences pretty early in life and proceeded from there. I’m not sure we’ve all had those kinds of experiences from the beginning.

My own experiences have shown me that the Green Man for sure exists, but there’s not much evidence I’ve had for other Gods, at least not anything that’s totally conclusive.

I just wanted to note that her unnecessary aggression will likely push people away.

Steve

A Reflection on the Holy Eucharist and the True Nature of Matter

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Dear God, I hope this isn’t too explosive to post or write, and I hope someone reads it and understands where I’m coming from.

The universe itself, indeed, the true nature of matter, is the very Body of Christ. What happens at the Mass is an “unveiling,” simultaneously in the Eucharist and in the participants themselves, of the true nature of material reality, which the typical consciousness of humanity cannot perceive directly. Each human is, prior to their own uniqueness, existent as the Imago Dei.

 

To receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist, then, is to be drawn into and united with the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. By revealing that our bodies are in fact consonant and derived from the Body of Christ, and to be lifted back from our fallen state into this Truth is one of the aims of the Mass.

 

The veil is torn, albeit for a temporary time, the same veil that divides the Imago Dei from the Body of Christ; the Holy Eucharist serves to tear the veil time and again, and with consistent practice on the part of the Faithful, the veil is eventually totally destroyed, at least in some instances.

 

After the veil has permanently been torn within an individual to reveal that the Imago Dei and the Body of Christ are synonymous in substance (though not ontologically the same), the Eucharist becomes an ever-living dialogue, the manifested, loving relationship of the Holy Trinity. This revelation does not, however, exhaust the Mystery of the Eucharist, for the Mystery of the Eucharist cannot be exhausted, its very nature being Divine.

 

The Communion of Saints is a reference to those who have fully been drawn into or participate fully in the Second Person of the Trinity, those both living and dead, without boundaries of Creed or any other such element of Identity or Division.

 

The God-Man Jesus Chrsit is a human Incarnation of the Divine Logos,the true, underlying, cosmic Principle and Nature. But in this context, “Principle” should not be understood as merely an abstraction conducive for the sake of human understanding; rather, the God-Man Jesus Christ is substantially a perfect human image of a vital and fundamental Reality beyond the normal human understanding of “Being.”

The argument against panentheism which would normally arise at this point is the result of a few mistake notions; first, the conceptual separation between God and Creation, and second, the notion that particulars in Nature in and of themselves are Divine without their greater participation in the underlying Christ. Creation is not a process that occurred once and now remains static; rather, Creation is an ever-continuous process rooted in the Body of Christ that unfolds; Creation is a Bodily Process of God, if you will.

 

A further explanation of the issue of panentheism is the honoring of Nature as Divine is really a product of the separated or fallen human consciousness as opposed to the Imago Dei’s experience of the Body of Christ. The process is an exercise in separation rather than a Fountain of Life-Giving Unity. The exception to this lies in the person who experiences his unity with Nature on the level of the Imago Dei, regardless of his particular set of terminology.

 

These are some rather undeveloped thoughts that I jotted down today and relate to a particular experience with the Christ-as-Earth-Father archetype I had recently. More later.

 

Beaux

On Being One’s Individual Self, More on Bernadette Roberts, and Various Rantings

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Instead of engaging in Contemplative Prayer (which is what I should be doing), I am instead writing a bit about an insight I had earlier.

 

To counterbalance this grand insight, I ended up cutting myself shaving. I do think this is the whole paradox of reality- we recognize some powerful and great Truth which is then curbed by the distressing and often annoying realities of common life.

 

Unfortunately, I do spend too much time reading theology online, along with forums and people’s opinions on various matters of religion. I’ve done so less and less as time as progressed, rightly curbing such an atrocious habit, but it does possess me here and again.

 

Naturally, with my Jungian and mystical leanings to things, I do take it upon myself to Google Jung and Catholicism.

 

Some article or another popped up one day that, of course, was blasting Jung and the “liberalism” of certain Catholics who seem to think the goal of the Tradition is just to find the “Authentic Self” and apply this to the idea that the universal quest of all religion is to find the “Authentic Self,” and there ends the quest.

 

This is partially correct. However, the issue that many mystics seem to be pressing, and the issue that I discovered when I was age 15, is that there is a point where one transcends the Higher/Authentic Self.

 

The notion that there may be something beyond the Higher Self, or that the Higher Self could even be lost, is troubling and perplexing to many people who don’t understand how we could exist without it. However, there are some technicalities in the context of philosophical and theological definitions as to what the “soul” of a human being is, such that the soul includes body and mind.

 

Anyway, some of the issues I’ve seen recently are people’s attacking Bernadette Roberts and her particular way of viewing things. They seem to gloss over some points that she makes that are very important while dissecting her with all manner of philosophical attacks that they can, and the whole bit irritates me. I finally gave up reading that particular forum after I made it to the 8th or so page out of 18 pages of Walls of Text Coming After Me.

 

Given, I did find some of the philosophical points people were making interesting, but I think I can summarize in a better way what Bernadette is attempting to convey:

 

Instead of our having a ghost or inner spirit that pops out when we die, we have an aspect of the body that is immortal, an aspect of the body that our senses don’t normally inform us about. The Holy Eucharist, then, explains this: the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ while the Body and Blood don’t seemingly appear.

 

Now, this concept appeals to me, the idea of an immortal, unseen Body, because to me, it seems NOVEL. Christianity has a huge focus on the Incarnation, on physicality, and on the Sacraments being real and true and actual effective means of our receiving God.

 

I’m also not suggesting that this particular way of perceiving things should be accepted as dogma. Rather, one should test this and find out for one’s self by making the mystic’s journey, pure and simple.

 

There’s a bit of contradiction when it comes to people who perceive the Deceased and communicate with entities on the “other side,” along with comparisons of various Near Death Experiences. One wonders how these things possibly happen if it’s possible that we don’t have a thinking/feeling being that persists after the death of the body.

 

Anyway, moving on to the Insight I had earlier and referring back to the Authentic Self: as I’ve said, there’s been a new shift in my focus to try to stimulate the Third Chakra and to try to really have a sense of liking myself and who I am. The Bishop said something interesting to me prior to my Confirmation in that we have to be the person God created us to be. The problem is that this is variously understood to mean something along the lines of following a particular set of rules, but then in Catholic Christianity, the feel of it, too, is different. There is a specific measure in God’s plan that I can and should fulfill, and I have to embrace my individuality to the maximum.

 

Again, the irony that exists in trying to destroy a sense of identity and how that perpetuated my sense of self and then the embracing of a particular identity seems to erode the ego in a way I can’t precisely explain.

 

My concern has been that seeking my True Self or Ego Center might displace God. In fact, the opposite reality is what I’ve discovered: being one’s true self, finding one’s center, and living out that center, is in and of itself an act of worship. To be what God has created one to be IS a prayer, IS worship, and I’m satisfied with that.

 

I’ve heard the bit before about searching for God and finding one’s self or searching for one’s and finding God, which I think kind of illustrates this principle. I go searching for myself, and then I find myself in the Presence of God.

 

My heart chakra also seems to be able to open more freely now that I’ve been more wont to embrace the stomach chakra.

 

Another interesting thing, too, is that I’m able to enjoy my own being, my own company, and have a sense of appreciation for myself. A few times, I’ve finally felt like an adult somewhere, like there was a Bigger Me somewhere that understood things and could do things that I can’t normally do. I compare this to my finally feeling less like a child and more like a teenager; suddenly things that frightened me were more like an adventure of sorts, a fresh start, a new change that I could experience.

 

But that particular mode of being is something that requires such tremendous focus that I hope it becomes a force of habit after a while. I might well give up if I don’t get a second wind sometime soon, as it’s pretty difficult on the one hand.

 

Pax Vobiscum.

 

Beaux

 

The Unitive State: An Experiential, First-Hand Account

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First, it would be ill-advised for us to go into the subtle metaphysical arguments of this matter, mostly with regards to how something like a no-ego state can even begin to have a “first-hand” account, as what is meant by the “no-ego” state is essentially a sudden lack or existence of subjectivity.

Otherwise, I would say to my readers, and especially to my brother-in-spiritual, a Red State Mystic, prepare yourself.

The second thing I want to establish is that, because of all the horrible things that has happened because of religion and because of religious authority’s abuse especially, I fully understand why so many people become skeptical and dismiss religion and most of all, I personally have understood and stated forthrightly in this blog my own dismissal of labeling myself as Christian- several self-identified Christians in the past have much to answer for, no matter their Church or denomination.

But this entry isn’t about defending or attacking Christianity, either. Rather, this is to comment further on what I’ve encountered and on what may well be the dawning of the Unitive State.

In the Autumn of 2007, I took it upon myself to become serious about my spiritual search. Everything that I have studied since then has almost exclusively fallen within the range of Gnosticism, Christianity, and Sufism. An underlying and connecting philosophy among these system is Neo-Platonism, though that’s again oversimplifying matters.

This is also when the experiences began starting- various kinds of insights about Christ, as it were, and of course, all kinds of experiences that way outside of any of the above mentioned systems.

Notwithstanding, eventually I came to identify what I call the Black Fire with my being Christian and with Christ. But more to the point, the Black Fire has two modes- one mode which is within, or immanent, and one mode which is without, or transcendent. The most intense moments are when this Black Fire is felt both within me and in the world around me, and this happens most especially at night when I’m driving alone but not exclusively so.

Even more recently, though, I came to realize the very real and tremendous reality of the Void that may be called Christ, something I’ve mentioned recently here. The Void seems to have been looming, moving closer and closer to me, and I’ve been forcing myself to do psychological work- facing various pains and confusions within myself, along with very real moral problems and conflicting impulses that make me a rather neurotic person on the whole.

Last night, something- and I’m not exactly sure what- happened. Something gave way within me.

Remember how I mentioned Christ as being the Earth Father Archetype? I felt the Void coming from both below and above me, moving into itself through me, uniting around my stomach area and moving even further than that- from Void to Void, from above to below and below to above.

What I came to see is exactly how deep the soul is, to put it poetically; I came to see the vast Nothingness that spreads out beyond our regular conscious mind, and it’s truly outstanding and amazing to see that absolute stillness within.

And from that point, I watched as various emotions would arise inside of me, and, as my friend Drew who is certainly in the unitive state said, be then reduced back into energy within the mystical sea.

This is identical to what Bernadette Roberts speaks of- the whole process of emotions arising and then going down the “drain” of God. Nothing sticks to one at this point- you still get angry, you still feel fear or jealousy or something from time to time, but it will fade just as quickly back into the Void.

So the realization also came to be something that has not been well-mentioned in Christianity. Christ doesn’t just live “in” our hearts. Christ is our heart. This is a mystery and difficult to explain. More to the point, I understand now what the Sufis mean about taking one step towards God, and he takes 10 steps towards us- this experience, this encounter, is more the process of God’s Grace, sheer and perfect and absolute, God’s Infinite Mercy, than my own efforts.

Lyrics from Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”

Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery

Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice, your voice can take me there

I’ve listened to this song repeatedly recently. The lines in particular standing out to me are, “Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery.” This certainly describes Christ, but more importantly, this describes God’s view of us. And my favorite line of all, “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem.” This certainly rings true of my ultimate relationship to Christ or the Void.

Now, some might ask why I’m attempting to label the Void as “Christ” and not some other deity, or why I’m making this identification. I found quickly last night that if I didn’t use some kind of word to describe it, that I couldn’t process it mentally; and this must certainly be what the Sufis mean by the necessity of a “container” for the energy, because otherwise it’s helter-skelter. So, too, this is where the importance of the Holy Eucharist comes in for Christians, as the whole process of communion gives a substantial form by which we can understand and commune with Christ.

But further than that, from the union of the soul with Christ, I saw something even more important: “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem” refers also to humans. We are not what we seem and never have been so.

Red State Mystic, if you’re reading this- I can’t begin to explain the implications I have seen, but this must certainly have to do with the Fall of Mankind. The ultimate implication is that in the so-called Fall of Mankind, we began to see ourselves as we are not- this is the ultimate trick of Satan, as it were, though I have no idea how Satan fits into all this symbolically or mythologically, unless he represents our animal drives, and even then, I think that’s not quite correct.

So Christ’s coming then reveals not only the nature of the Divine but also the true nature of mankind. If one could see humanity from the standpoint of God, one would understand that as much as God is man’s mystery, MAN is GOD’S MYSTERY.

So, too, we must also see that while in the Holy Eucharist we apparently receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, in the same way, Christ receives our Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Here’s to the further mysteries and revelations about God.

For me to not be Christian, I sure am a good poster-child, don’t you think? Hah!

Last night also saw a few strange psychic events. I dreamt that my friend Rheana called me and talked to me. When I awoke, five minutes into being awake, I received a text message from her. Otherwise, I didn’t sleep well- this state continued heavily until about three in the afternoon or so and has tapered off a bit but hasn’t completely gone. The emotions don’t seem to be “going down the drain” as easily at this point, but there’s definitely some kind of huge dent in the ego, and it won’t be long before it’s swallowed up whole, I bet! YAY!

Beaux


More Thoughts.

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Some of the mystical movements and notably the words of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee suggest that this is God’s world and that this is God’s story, and that we must take a part in God’s story; in other words, our lives are not about us, they are about God, and we must focus on God and not ourselves; otherwise, we’ll never find happiness.

This is a difficult thing for me to do for several reasons.

First, the notion that we must focus on God and not ourselves is fantastic- if one believes in God, if one has a clear idea about who, or more importantly, what God is, and if one has a clear idea about what God expects from us. In this case, a devout Catholic (or Anglican) has it much easier than the devout Gnostic or Sufi or New Ager. If one firmly believes in God, and then if one has a “rule book” that relates one to that God, well, you’ve no problem. I should add that if one experiences God, that this applies as well.

Second, what happens when you aren’t even sure what God is, and then you aren’t sure that God exists at that, and then you aren’t sure what God’s standards would be anyway? I can’t trust a Holy Book from any religion simply because it is a Holy Book. So a religion may have rules, and they may claim these rules come from God, thus setting the standard for our behavior and how we are to live.

But I don’t buy that.

If someone asks me if I believe in God, I can’t give them an answer, not a clear one, not an easily articulated one. There’s no belief in me of an Old, Bearded Man Sitting on a Throne, the “classic” image of both Zeus and Jehovah. I don’t believe in that. Period. But do I acknowledge that the cosmos may have a binding force that holds us all together, that is aware of us in a way that we can’t imagine, that perhaps even loves us and wills us into existence? Sure. I can see that, totally.

Now, I want to point out that originally and even today, MUCH OF CHRISTIANITY ACTUALLY VIEWS GOD THE FATHER IN THIS WAY. This is not the “popular” image of God that’s espoused in the media and in many of the Evangelical churches, which take a more literal reading to the Bible, but the “formless” Ground of Being was one of the first aspects of God identified in Christianity and used to counter to the Jews; in other words, early Christians pointed out that the Jews had anthropomorphized God and done a disservice to him in the process. This is one of the reasons that the Incarnate Christ was such a big deal. The Ultimate Cosmic Force condensed Itself into one particular human form- not a small feat.

But back to the point. My skepticism is still quite present inside of me because of disappointment after disappointment with different religions and philosophies. The ultimate problem I’ve found is that it comes down to squabbling over highly abstract systems that have little bearing on reality. Some might argue that the systems tell us how to think and therefore how to act. I would say this can only be true to a certain degree, but that isn’t the point of this blog entry.

The question is, if you don’t really believe in God, how can you live your life for him?

The “bubble” that Llewellyn and others wish to burst is simply the idea that our lives are only and strictly about us. Well, not everyone has the idea that their life is strictly about themselves and no others, so the presupposition is shaky as it is, but for me, I have found the selflessness comes at the service of other people, namely those people with whom I have fallen in love. As the old saying goes, “Being deeply loved gives us strength; deeply loving gives us courage.”

Only when I have been deeply in love have I had courage to face things I would otherwise not face. I have done the craziest things, things that would have otherwise made me cower and quake, for the sake of love.

The Sufis speak of loving God, of God being the Beloved. Again I cite the problem: how are we to love a Nameless, Faceless, Bodiless, Amorphous Nothingness? Loving Christ, the image of Jesus, came easier to me, yet even that image is tainted.

If there is a God, and God will show me what it means to love It, then BRING IT ON.

Certainly, a life where one is only concerned with one’s self is going to have negative results. One will never be happy this way, or fulfilled, in any substantial way. So there is a merit in saying that one should “live for God.” But again, in practice, what does that really mean? How does one do that when one doesn’t even really have the same definition of “God” that most people do, and how does one do that when one doesn’t really even have a sense of God really existing?

And since I asked Keegan to read this, I’ll mention him in here as well at this point: after many debates about religion, he finally told me the truest thing that he ever said to me: “You have a really weird definition of religion, dude.”

That’s a perfect statement of me and how I approach religion as a whole: I don’t understand Christianity as most (not all) Christians do, and it’s likely that I don’t understand Sufism as most Sufis do, though that’s not the same kind of gap. But I’m not a “heretic” in the traditional sense where I simply don’t agree on a few doctrines or dogmas. My entire approach to religion is different than most religious people’s approach, and truth be told, many would label me more agnostic or even atheistic than they would theistic and religious.

So the point is, in line with Keegan’s words, I see religion as a tool, as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. This is perhaps where Bernadette Roberts and I would part ways in terms of the Holy Eucharist, as she affirms that it is an end in itself as THE Cosmic Christ, and I would say the Holy Eucharist is the means to Nirvana while also (potentially) being an end in itself. I could be wrong, and time will tell.

Maybe the reality is that one can’t understand God or religion until one has gone through other religions and even through atheism. Who knows?

This gave me another idea to write about.

Beaux


On Celebration and Paganism and More

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I sat down to write an entirely different blog than what’s about to come out.

Mainly, I think that celebration is a specific aspect of religion that has attracted me for quite some time without my being able to put my finger on it. The holidays in Catholicism, the Feast Days and such, made me especially proud.

So, too, my flirtations with Paganism and specifically Wicca largely dealt with the High Holy Days, at least in recent years. The Wheel of the Year, the High Holidays, the Formalized Rituals- this all appeals to me at my current age and since I was 22 or 23.

My blog is not the place to debate the origins of modern Paganism or Wicca or how one can identify one’s self and so on; others will rage with the battle of self-identification until the cows come home, and I’m not here to deal with that.

Naturally, it’s quite likely that most teenagers are attracted to Paganism for the aspect of self-empowerment. Contrary to what many would have you believe, the dark aspect of Wicca is something that attracts them. The image that one is a “witch” and that one can “cast spells” on one’s enemies is definitely one of power, of intimidation- and thus it frightens people, even those who boldly proclaim that they aren’t fearful, because even they have a subconscious fear that the Wiccans may actually have some power.

Paganism as a whole stands in a kind of limbo with itself. Pagans will argue amongst themselves almost as much as Christians; it’s truly amazing that a religion that should be encouraging freedom and life becomes so quickly absorbed in debates within itself.

Different than Christianity, Paganism has no centralized authority external to itself. I used to refer to this as a double-edged sword, meaning that Paganism lacks the kind of structure that we see in Christianity. However, as per the often chaotic state of Christianity, despite the sources of authority being the Pope, the Bible, Tradition, Reason, and sometimes experience, apparently external authority matters less than I think.

But the trick here is that there’s still some kind of recognizability; walk into a Catholic or Anglican parish, and you’ll notice the overarching similarities.

One Pagan’s altar can vary from another’s in the craziest way- and that’s okay. That’s truly okay. Pagans often have to make do with what they have, so it’s not a criticism.

But back to the point. Previously, I was interested only in casting spells; later on, my interest was in the use of psychological symbols and rituals that were structured and analogous to the Christian rituals.

This makes me think of the days that I flirted with Gnosticism. No, I didn’t flirt with Gnosticism- I would have been a prime example of a Gnostic were there a Gnostic parish around me. Modern Gnosticism unites Christianity, Paganism, and Buddhism- three religions that have been most influential on me- into a system that is beautiful and coherent.

How do I break this down?

Gnosticism, as I have known it, uses the rituals, imagery, and symbolism of Catholicism. Thus, it is intuitive to me and familiar.

Gnosticism emphasizes the Divine Feminine– an aspect that is sorely missing in Christianity as a whole and tends to be reflected in the Virgin Mary- but she is emphatically stated to be not God. This distinction is clearly made, despite the greatest howling of Evangelicals.

Gnosticism has an understanding of the psychological nature of the human being. Our psyches are broken down and explained, then taken and put into the context of a transformative ritual. (This reflects what we established before about the ability of the liturgy to transform the individual.)

I say that, but how does Sufism fit in? Sufism is arguably Gnosticism in an Islamic context. The Sufism I follow is mostly Sufism from a Hindu context, using both Arabic and Sanskrit words; moreover, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee says one can be a Sufi in any religion. But saying Gnostic Sufi sounds awfully redundant.

Ultimately, these are all means to an end, not an end in themselves. I cannot mistake the finger for the Moon, but sometimes intellectuals become too big for the britches and get caught up in the concepts.

So why the turn to a more orthodox Christianity? I searched and searched for the mysticism present in it. Again, no Gnostic parishes are nearby. The mysticism is there- specifically in the Holy Eucharist- but it is difficult to extract and appears to come with a package deal. The Episcopal Church offers the best deal- the liturgy and so on being the most traditional. But I easily find myself getting lost in the attempt to extract the mysticism.

I find myself agreeing with the Gnostics about almost everything. Almost.

Now why can’t they open a church here?

Interestingly, Bernadette Roberts has many conclusions and explanations of the Holy Eucharist that overlap with Gnostic perspectives. I would say “theology,” but there is no “orthodoxy” of philosophy in Gnosticism.

Beaux


Processing, Translation, and Explanation: An Ordeal, and More on Christ

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First, I’ll initiate this blog by saying that translating one’s experiences can often be difficult, because we all come into a situation of communication with presuppositions and sometimes think that others have at least a basic grasp on the things we’re discussing when often they do not. So, I first want to welcome each and every one of my readers here to ask questions, to send me messages, to speak to me, here, on Facebook, on IM, or whatever means, if there’s something I say in particular that needs clarification or doesn’t make total sense.

Second, I want to explain that I am not an enlightened person. Stumbling up the mountain of enlightenment may indeed be a good metaphor for what I’m going through, but I am by no means a guru, a teacher, a swami, or someone who can teach anyone else. While the Sufis are adamant and wise to suggest that all we need to arrive on the Other Shore is someone who walks but a single step ahead of us, I would daresay the person walking behind me might find themselves tripping over me and smashing their nose into the ground as I became distracted by a butterfly or an apple or something seemingly innocuous.

Recently, I’ve had an increase of psychological healing. But as I’ve known for a while and as a few good teachers can point out, the healing of the individual traumas and integration of the Shadow in the psyche is not synonymous with enlightenment. A sign of maturation, yes, but a dissolution of the ego and eventually the entire Self, no.

So, as a disclaimer of sorts, I want to make everyone who reads my blog understand that I’m doing this as a first-hand account of what I personally have experienced and still encounter, a sort of real-time record of the journey and the trials and struggles that I face on it. Most accounts of the journey appear to be written from a retrospective standpoint, and thus we only hear about when expectations have been defied from that reference point. Here, I can clearly state expectations and projections and then test how they play out.

In my last blog, I mentioned a few things about Bernadette Roberts and not having a clear “system” of what to do. Now, I’ll give a further critique of Christianity and try to explain why the system appears difficult.

Christianity is, in my opinion, a difficult and cumbersome system, and I don’t mean to convey this in the same sense that a typical Evangelical would mean it: “Of course it’s difficult, it’s the TRUTH! Of course it isn’t easy to be a Christian!” This amounts to simply being, “We’re right, and so any adversity we face necessarily is proof that we’re right.”

What I mean to convey is that Christianity doesn’t tell us what to do, and when it does, the doing is in terms of ritual and has little to no direct psychological work. (I’ll address the role of the Mass and of the Sacraments momentarily, but let’s keep going where we are.) Christ says to love our enemies. Okay, but how does one do that when one naturally reacts with fear, anger, distrust, and yes, even hatred of one’s enemies? How does one simply stop hating?

So the equivalent of telling someone to love their enemies without explaining how to do deal with the hate first is of telling a child to go bake a cake for his grandparents without the child knowing how to cook. The child can certainly identify a cake, knows what a cake tastes like- much as the Christian knows what love feels like- but the child isn’t given the tools or the instructions that break the cake down into something he can create, and even then, he needs help from a parent most of the time to learn how to do this in the first place.

The most we’re offered is that we should simply resist the flesh, but herein lies the problem: when the “flesh” becomes intoxicated with its own desire, resisting that desire is not only difficult, it’s almost impossible. From what I have personally observed, one cannot “resist” the flesh; one must simply ride out the emotion or distract one’s self, as a one-to-one battle with the instincts will certainly lose and one will give in. There are no tools that are given, no instructions that are given.

Ideally, and I say ideally for a reason, we’re to love God so much that our love for him simply exceeds the passions of the flesh, minimizing our ability and tendency to sin. But this works largely only in hypothesis and is rarely, if ever, carried out in the world around us. The majority of people don’t do bad things or “sin” because they’re afraid of temporal and eternal consequences or, on the flip side, are greedy for temporal and eternal rewards. Rarely have I seen Christians being ultimately motivated by love, but I have seen it, so I know it happens; mostly, Christians seem motivated by greed and fear, which is to say, greed for heaven and fear of hell. Rarely does a Christian seek God for God’s sake. Perhaps this can just as easily be said of any other religion, and I’m not going to contest that here.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the baptismal water. Andy of a Red State Mystic makes an extremely good point in one of his responses to a comment: the beauty and holiness of the Christian liturgy will, in and of itself, eventually transform the individual. In many ways, there is a parallel here to Sufism, as it speaks of God transforming one and not the other way around. Thus, one’s ego does not have a hand in the transformative process and cannot upset it. The mysticism of Christianity is found largely in the Holy Eucharist. Simply go and partake of the Holy Eucharist, and the Great Work is done within you- Christ freely offers himself.

So the Christian mystical transformation may well begin on the unconscious level, comparable to that of the (Golden) Sufis. In theory, the transformation simply happens on its own accord, and one day you awaken enlightened. The difficulty then is the steadfastness and patience required to wait for the transformation to take place, and that is where I find myself: questioning, wondering if there’s anything happening at all. Where are the synchronicities? Where are the signs? Where is the Face of God? Moreover, the Earth has come to a crisis point with itself: there isn’t time for me (or anyone) to wait for a 30-year-process to transform us. But there also isn’t time to waste just thinking something’s happening on the unconscious level if there’s not a true restructuring taking place.

I can daresay most modern Americans cannot fathom the idea of receiving the Holy Eucharist as being a transformative process, but there’s a great deal of theory and explanation behind why it is a transformative experience. I am not concerned with a salvation in the afterlife; I am not concerned with what happens when we die so much as I am concerned with living out the divine destiny in this world, to ultimately alleviate the suffering that we as humans encounter.

As most of my readers know, earlier this year, I gave up Christianity for the third time in my life. I spoke to a friend the other night who asked if it was Christianity that had abandoned me or Christians. To add to this, he may as well have asked if Christ had abandoned me.

Frankly put, I don’t think most Christians understand their tradition. To put this into words is difficult, and certainly I’m not the first person to come along and claim that the majority of a people in a religion don’t understand their religion and what’s really being said or what’s really going on. There is a useful Christian expression about making God in one’s image, but typically this is used by a particular denomination to refer to a contradiction of the authoritative image of God in that denomination; making God in one’s image means not following the Jewish image of God according to Genesis or the early Christian image of God according to the Greeks and Romans or some other such ilk. In essence, one is redefining the definition of “God” according to that denomination.

But herein lies the exact problem: God ultimately transcends and outright explodes any system that attempts to quantify him (or it.) God exists above and beyond the images we make of him, and this, perhaps, is why the Jews prohibited idols and initially a Temple: ultimately, God could not be contained in one particular form or image. So any ideas and formulations and opinions about God we have ultimately are blown apart by the sheer enormity of God.

It’s also no secret that if one reads the Old Testament, the God presented there is not much better than the the pagan deities who demand blood sacrifices and are violent and so forth; Jehovah doesn’t come off as being any holier or better than Zeus or Thor or any other deity of the ancient world. Theologically, the only difference is that Jehovah doesn’t have anyone with whom to compete.

It’s also no secret that, despite what many evangelical Christians now think, the early Christians didn’t regard the Old Testament as that big of a deal, which is to say that the image of God being so human-like was ridiculed and used as one of the major reasons why the Jews “got it wrong.” God the Father in the New Testament is extremely lofty and transcendent, loving, holy, ethereal, beyond our comprehension and senses as opposed to the smite ’em up Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Catholic Christianity has dealt with this with mediocre success. Conservative Protestant Christianity will likely wrestle with it until the day they die. The Gnostics did the best job, though: the Old Testament deity simply isn’t the same as God the Father, but a kind of imposter an inferior God. Christ comes to liberate us and reveal the True God.

Protestant Christianity, when not devolving into complete “modern worship” ilk, simply exists as a kind of reformed and continuous Judaism. Judaism is the real mystery, and Jehovah is their God; humanity screws up, so Jesus is sent to complete the mystery of Judaism. Thus, Judaism is the essentially puzzle of Christianity, and Jesus Christ is the missing piece to the puzzle. You now have the whole picture; nothing is left out once Jesus comes as the Christ.

But Catholic Christianity has more to wrestle with. There is a greater depth of mysticism and practice; the Mystery of Christ and the Gospel certainly almost completely usurp the place of the Jewish tradition, while still maintaining many aspects of it such as the structure of the Temple, the Tabernacle, the use of incense and candles, and the Priesthood. The vibe of Catholicism being different from Protestantism cannot be chalked up to being simply because of early “pagan” influences of Christianity. Rather, Catholicism relates to Judaism in the exact opposite way that Protestantism does: Catholicism sees CHRIST as the TRUE MYSTERY of God and Reality, and Christ was ultimately intended to be the TRUE MYSTERY the entire time; what we see then is that Judaism’s role in Christianity is almost incidental! Referring back to the image of the puzzle, instead of the puzzle being complete except for one piece, Christ reveals that Judaism is only a small fraction of the real puzzle, only a small hint at the true tremendous reality of God and reality.

Now, a word about Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church.

A Red State Mystic is by no means a closet Episcopalian or mystic. He certainly has been granted the gift of Faith which I have not been, and he’s much more comfortable in the world of Christian orthodoxy than I am. So much the better, as he can communicate with more orthodox minded Christians what his experiences and encounters with God are in a language they will understand. He, too, has run into the same problem I formerly ran into with the “label game.” Anglicanism is a broad term. One Episcopal Church may be “I can’t believe it’s not Catholic” whereas another may be “I can’t believe it’s not Methodist.” There is no set standard or rule for it. To clarify where Andy’s sentiments (and mine) have lain, he has used the word “Anglo-Catholic” in the past but recently wrote this blog entry discussing why the term “Anglo-Catholic” may be unsuitable at this point. His assertions are incredibly fair and accurate when compared against my own experiences.

I cannot, at this point, properly term myself “Christian.” I have too many issues with Christianity, I have too many bad memories of it, too many negative encounters, and too many attempts at forcing the “Christian worldview” onto the world as I actually experience it. In some technical way, or, in some mystical way of which I am not yet aware, I may indeed be Christian whether or not I would like to admit it. But if I were going to participate in Christianity, I would do so at the Episcopal Church, which is to where many dreams would point. I would pray for God to show me which church I should join. I would dream of the Episcopal Church. This is not a difficult thing, especially since this happens so consistently. My other option would be the Gnostic churches, but they are so few and far in between that joining one would require a move across the country.

My main perspective on Anglicanism at this point is that it should be understood as its own tradition- instead of arguing that it is Catholic or that it is Protestant or that it is both, it should argue that it is neither- it is its own tradition in its own right with its own compromises and its own peculiarities. No one should categorize it as Catholic or as Protestant; it should be categorized only as Anglicanism. That’s a harsh pronouncement, but that is where I would stand at this point.

Most of that is quite cerebral, I am aware, and little of it has anything to do with the so-called actual practice that I constantly refer to as being missing from the writing. But the underlying theory on why one participates in such a practice is also necessary. One cannot simply have the practice without understanding what is going on, nor is it good to have theory without any kind of practice and test grounds.

Now, I turn to another subject, which goes back to Christ (who else?). The essential mystery of Christ may be that he has never been who he has portrayed to be. Several Christian mystics have come upon the horror of their image of Christ being destroyed and replaced with the raw reality of Christ, and I think this may be the key to my own experience as well. What we think Christianity is- and who we think Christ is, at least in the typical sense of both these words- happens to be incorrect, an image that has been perpetuated through misunderstanding and misinformation for the sake of power and control and so on.

But the question is why the impression of the raw reality would still be that of Christ. Is it simply a mislabeling, a forcing of the reality into a particular paradigm? Most lately I have encountered him as a kind of elder brother figure who guides me through the Void that is Reality. Is this really Christ, or is Christ only a convenient name we give to this strange reality? I wrote before about the connection among Lord Shiva, Christ, and the Earth Father Archetype. But even with that connection being established, I take into account that Archetypes are never experienced in-and-of themselves; only images and hints at the reality of the Archetype are encountered.

On the one hand, this all seems important, and on the other hand, it all seems to be a bunch of intellectual masturbation.

I know this blog has been long and tedious, so if you’ve made it this far with me, you have my thanks.

Beaux


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