Imago Dei Revisited

Leave a comment

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

Advertisements

Animus, Anima, Archetypes

Leave a comment

Gnosis tends to creep up on us. 

Lately, I’ve noticed the use of the word “gnosis” to be different for different people. This seems only natural as its unfortunate how often people have completely different definitions for the same word. Largely, I myself had conceived of “gnosis” to refer to direct or first-hand knowledge about God; in other words, “gnosis” is the “information” about God that’s apprehended in, say, a vision of God or an angel or some sort of spiritual being. That is “gnosis” as opposed to “epistemis,” which is instead a hypothetical knowledge that potentially derives from a specific line of reasoning but is not necessarily something that one has encountered for one’s self. 

So, this is the manner in which I use the word “gnosis.” I don’t use the word to refer to enlightenment or some kind of higher level of knowledge as other Gnostics do; instead, “gnosis” is used kind of like “grace.” One might be in a state of grace, one might be in a state of gnosis, but gnosis is not equivalent to something like Nirvana or theosis; on this point I agree, but I would also disagree with the Gnostics in the Apostolic Johannite Church who insist that the goal of Gnosticism and Christianity is not Nirvana or enlightenment but gnosis as gnosis seems something like the building blocks that lead to Nirvana.

Enough of this. To the point. 

Earlier today, something registered with me. I initially had a suspicion that the dyadic nature of Christ/Sophia suggested in some way the Animus and Anima, and so, too, I think this is even more clearly represented and supported by the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary whereby Mary is understood to represent the functions of Sophia in a parallel way that Jesus represents the functions of the Christ. 

The problem, of course, is that in circles mystic, esoteric, New Age, and otherwise, the Christ Consciousness is almost always attributed to being the elusive Higher Self/Buddha Nature. This poses a problem, because if Christ represents the Higher Self, then how can He also represent the Animus?

The answer exists to some extent in the sphere of Gnosticism and those who would separate the Eternal Christ from the man Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth becomes the image of the Animus; hence the concept of the “Sacred Heart of JESUS.” I’ve never come across literature who refer to the Sacred Heart as the “Sacred Heart of Christ.” Not once. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the phrase always used. Thus, the notion is that the Eternal, Pre-existent Christ is the Self and cannot be given a specific form but the man Jesus DOES have a specific form or image- hence, the Animus, the Ideal Image of the Masculine. This is further supported by the Sacred Heart itself and the countless images of Jesus pointing to His Sacred Heart as if to say, “I AM Love; I AM the Passion; I AM the Animus.”

However, for heterosexual men, the parallel devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is necessary. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is necessary in order for the man to integrate the Anima into himself, I think. Her perpetual virginity is easily explained in the sense that the Anima can NEVER be truly touched or defiled; projected, yes, but ultimately, the Anima is a part of the person, and thus the Blessed Virgin Mary is a perpetual virgin who is the Queen of Heaven because she is assumed into the Divine Self once the person has fully (or mostly fully) integrated the Anima. 

This, too, explains why the notion is that she is conceived without sin, that she is immaculate, even as Jesus was sinless; both the Anima and the Animus are CONCEIVED IN THE PSYCHE WITHOUT STAIN OR FAULT. 

I have no idea how I know these things; archetypal relationships just seem to pop out at me, and that reinforces the notion that I must approach Christianity through a Jungian lens for it to make sense.

A while back, a friend said something to me along the lines of how he just can’t take most of Protestantism seriously, and I agree. Protestantism seems so geared toward decidedly making itself Not Catholic that the archetypal relationships are all but lost; it isn’t to say that the Catholic variety of Christianity doesn’t have its own issues, for it does, but for a different set of issues. 

More and more, it does seem that the Gnostics are about the only Christians in the history of the religion who actually knew what they were talking about. 

Stevo

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

 

Open Communion, Rant 1

Leave a comment

So, now here’s talk in the Episcopal Church about opening up the receiving of the Holy Eucharist to anyone, whether they’ve received Holy Baptism or not. Once

So, now here’s talk in the Episcopal Church about opening up the receiving of the Holy Eucharist to anyone, whether they’ve received Holy Baptism or not.

 

Once again, people are up in arms, and anytime the Church does something to widen her arms, people begin screaming about how she’s been taken over by secular leftists and so on. It’s a pathetic and un-Christian attitude, let’s face it.

 

I have some of the snidest, unloving attitudes thrown at the Episcopal Church, both by her members and by members of other denominations. Somehow, people seem to have forgotten that one’s faith must also spring from love in order for it to be salvific.

 

But I won’t go down that road just now.

 

Now, this blog is obviously not an Easter blog going on about the significance of the Resurrection and all that jazz; a Red State Mystic and any number of other bloggers instead can take that role, as they’re typically more informed on the traditions than I am. You can go see for yourself, in fact, as I’m sure any number of good Episcopalians are furiously typing away at their MacBooks the virtues of this High Holy Day.

 

Now, of course, I should also point out that the folks who were getting their panties in a wad about Open Communion were Online Christians. Online Christians really do number in such a way that 90% of them are fanatical idiots and 10% of them are actually decent. There’s 1% of the decent people that are actually ultra-awesome, including my friends Andy, Justin, Richard, Carlo, and probably some more I can’t think of right now. (I’m focusing on the more orthodox-minded people.)

 

Anyway, the real manner of discussing Open Communion should deal with supplying the theological reasons for and against instead of claiming the that the Church has just been hijacked by secular leftists.

 

And if we’re going to play the game of cultural leanings and the Church, I would say that if you look at the past 2000 years of Holy Mother Church’s history, it’s been largely Her being bent over backwards, tied to a sawhorse, and gang-raped in every possible orifice by a bunch of secular “rightists” while then having an abortion forcibly performed on Her anytime She’s about to produce something good out of their stodgy old evil.

You can take that to the bank and cash it.

My take on it is that Christianity’s initiatory process used to be an intimate, private thing done upon pain of death from the then-government. The catechism was underground and dangerous; it had the vestiges of Mystery Religions, and had to be treated as such.

 

Now, theology is at our fingertips. Anyone can go online, do research, watch Youtube videos, and see that it’s possible for any person to develop their own complex theology; theological matters are not strictly in the hands of the Church.

 

That doesn’t mean that people do a good job of it, but oh, well. It’s not like the Church always does, either.

 

Anyway, part of my own perspective is that, Christ offered Himself for everyone. God loves everyone. God loves us all. Don’t you think there would be more Roman Catholics and Easter Orthodox if they had an Open Communion? I mean when you put the burden on people by saying, “If you don’t agree with us, we’re not giving you salvation,” it kind of makes you out to look like, I don’t know, an asshole.

 

On the other hand, I can understand that having a proficient understanding of the Faith should be necessary to receive Communion- no one seems to understand just how incredibly Holy and Powerful it ACTUALLY is.

 

But that brings me back to how I feel about most people as it is; most people in any religion are ridiculously ignorant of their own tradition. Any given religion almost universally has a horrible Public Relations department where the story of the religion is not quite what happened in a historical way. Sometimes, this is far more than a “not quite,” but we won’t go there.

 

I’ve watched enough priests in Youtube videos and on TV to know that a good number of them have no clue what they’re doing or no idea of the depth of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. I’m not saying they’re deliberately shamming people, though I’m sure many of them are; I’m saying they just don’t get it, and I’m thankful that the Sacraments work ex opere operato.

Okay, I’ve rambled enough here. Christos Anesti!

 

Beaux

Mystical Experience Updates

Leave a comment

First off, today marked my fourth Mass at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama. That tops the three Masses I went to at St. Mark’s in Troy, Alabama. The main thing that has changed: I am going to Mass for Christ and not for myself. That’s an incredible shift in my own consciousness.

Another good point is that since I am single at this point in my life, I attend Mass with a full dedication to Christ and can put my full focus on Him. I felt a bit uncomfortable before when I went with my then-boyfriend, as I felt I was ignoring him or not giving him the due attention. However, there was also the reality that we weren’t totally able to be open about our relationship and so on at the church on the one hand, so perhaps that played into it.

The mystical experiences to note:

One night, I had the experience of everyone being part of the Body of Christ. The mystical Body of Christ is a reality, not a metaphor. Unfortunately, Christianity often enough gets everything backwards: what is literal is taken as symbolic and what is symbolic is taken as literal. This is highly bothersome.

At any rate, the experience accorded to me that everyone is a part of THE BODY of Christ, that we are substantially, in a flesh-and-blood sort of way, made out of His very Body. Receiving the Eucharist reveals this Truth in our own bodies- the Truth of our Oneness with God and each other. This is a very real and vital sort of thing, not just a strange, flowing, undefined energetic sort of way; it’s like being a great, organic body, connected in a direct and real manner.

The next experience: as I drove to Mass today, I had the experience of Christ being on the cross, high in the sky, and all reality being united to Him. Then, I had the experience of seeing myself melt away, along with all people melt away, to reveal that underneath, we are all actually Christ. So to treat another human being in a certain way is verily to treat Christ in that way.

This comes around to a picture that my friend Richard posted recently of a man shooting heroin into his vein, showing that in doing so, he, too, is shooting heroin into the body of Jesus. The point, then, is that not only is it a matter of what we do to another person, BUT HOW WE TREAT OURSELVES, a point that is not emphasized enough in Christianity.

In the Second Great Commandment of Christ, we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves; the implication, then, is that we must FIRST love ourselves, for if we hate ourselves, we will hate our neighbor as well.

The final revelation that occurred today happened as I took a walk and, with my mala-turned-chotki, I prayed the Name of Jesus or the so-called Jesus Prayer. After a time, I began to see the shimmering in everything; there’s a strange shimmering that’s appeared more and more these days, perhaps a function of meditating more on the Third Eye. Either way, I see a light, a shimmering, in things that I have only begun seeing since a little before starting to go to Mass and probably after I started doing the meditation on the Secret of the Golden Flower.

All I can say is, “Praise be to God.”

I hope my words can be of use to others, that they either take encouragement from them or find parallels in their own mysticism.

Beaux

Perceptual Changes and More

Leave a comment

Perceptual changes as of late that should be noted:

I seem to have a greater and automatic focus on experiencing the world through my senses. It’s difficult to explain what I mean by this, but there’s certainly a very “this world” focus on the one hand, though my mind often seems to go blank or be clear.

The “tiredness” has returned lately; I feel like a kind of blanket is held over the front of my brain, and thinking, as well as writing, becomes a kind of effort that has to be made. Lying in bed, very still, can create a great deal of bliss for me; last night, I lay in bed and had a heating pad on my head to help keep me warm, and I felt such incredible bliss there unlike what I normally feel.

Certain sexual energies seem to be lessening for me; this isn’t consistent, but sexual pleasure seems to have been stripped from me to some degree. It’s just as well, as through the Holy Spirit, I have experienced a fullness and completeness that sexuality has never granted me.

Another recent insight I’ve had lately is that what I truly want is Nirvana, not only for myself, but for all sentient beings, as the Buddhists would say; my most fervent prayer to God is for everyone, even my worst enemies, even Satan itself, to be brought to salvation in Nirvana; Nirvana not only for myself but for everyone and everything. This is the only true purpose that can exist in reality.

The completeness of the Holy Trinity has been revealed in the Holy Spirit, and yet I am left without a particular abstraction or mental construct by which to express the completeness. God is never-ending; God is always-continuing; God is eternal, but not eternal in a way which seems suffocating or crushing; God’s eternity is simply beyond words that explain what’s happening. There is no lacking in God, while in humans, we seem to have a very basic nature of “lack.”

I lay in bed last night and felt my prayer going to God, my glorification of God, while the true glorifying agent is the Holy Spirit, God the Mother, praising God through me. Suffice it to say that God the Mother offers God the Son to God the Father through us, in a Mystery of God that is profound and deep and that I cannot begin to explain; we may participate in this by surrendering ourselves willingly to God, but it seems rather like God’s actually got all the bases covered, and we’re not really necessary in the process too terribly much. It’s almost as though I observe something happening but don’t cause it to happen.

Anyway, there was a sense of completeness in glorifying God; not glorification in the sense of petition or because I wanted anything, but because it is the nature of man to want to honor and praise something greater than himself.

And of course, the glorification is a sense of fullness and joy, mixed often with longing; it isn’t the corny sort of modern Christian worship that’s hollow and devoid of the very things it seeks to express. This is different; this is more; this is REAL. There’s something substantial here.

Several times, I’ve also noticed that I don’t have the same kind of arousal of emotions as I used to; this isn’t consistent, but during this period, it’s rare for me to experience extreme emotions, either good or bad. Instead, there’s a kind of constant steadiness in the tiredness. I do have emotions that appear at times, though the cognitive component seems at times to be worse than any kind of physical passion associated with it.

Beaux

Older Entries