The Unitive State: An Experiential, First-Hand Account

Leave a comment

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


Advertisements

As for the Doubts and a New Shift.

Leave a comment

While reading Wikipedia yesterday (a dangerous past-time for intellectuals, as we’re likely to get swept up in a dozen or so articles when we only meant to read one or two), I stumbled upon the entry on Neo-Platonism.

As I read about Neo-Platonism, I was shocked, in many ways, to see how the cosmology aligned largely with what Bernadette Roberts’s take on Catholicism and her own mystical Christian journey.

Also, I was amazed to see Neo-Platonism accounted for a few intellectual hurdles that I’d encountered with both Catholicism and Gnosticism. We’ll come back to this.

First, allow me to say that Neo-Platonism has heavily influenced the interpretation of Christianity, specifically within the Catholic traditions (again here referring to Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Eastern Orthodoxy.) The modern evangelical Christianity adopts a more immediate and literalist view of things, which, I think, is the wrong idea.

Second, allow me to break Christianity down into two major varieties that we may call Messiah-ism and Christ-ism to give respect to the Jewish and Greek names for the Logos. First, the official doctrine of Jesus Christ is that he is both FULLY God and FULLY Man. There are two natures united in one person; there is not one nature, there are not two people with two natures. There is ONE person with TWO natures.

Messiah-ism is the kind of Christianity that has more of an emphasis on the human nature, or shall we say, on “Jesus.” Messiah-ism is largely focused on the Jewish origins of Christianity, on the historical nature of Judaism and how it relates to Christianity, and so on. This goes back to what I said about Jesus being the final puzzle piece to the Jewish mystery and how we get this feeling from Protestantism much more often than not. Messiah-ism becomes suspicious of any kind of ritual that is not specifically and outwardly Jewish, as Jesus was specifically and outwardly Jewish. Thus Messiah-ism is much more literalistic and interprets that religion from that standpoint- the superficial standpoint, supplemented with historical and cultural understanding. This standpoint definitely seems to the be the choice among evangelical Christians of our era.

Christ-ism is the kind of Christianity that has more of an emphasis on the divine nature or shall we say, on “Christ.” Specifically, Christ-ism focuses on Christ as the Logos, as the Eternal Principle that creates the universe and binds the universe together. As Christ is cosmic and pre-existent to his specific Jewish incarnation as Jesus, Christ-ism is universal- or catholic as we might say- and doesn’t have to take on a specific formula of the rituals and imagery. That is to say, the symbolism of the Christ extends above and beyond a Jewish historical and cultural setting, as do the rituals. Certainly the Catholic traditions resemble, in abstract terms, the Jewish traditions of the temple without specifically wearing and using only Jewish symbolism. Christ, then, can also be understand in virtually an infinite number of modes.

Messiah-ism and Christ-ism parallel a phenomenon in the Hebrew Bible, which is the contrast between Jehovah and Elohim. Jehovah is the nasty god, the one that’s highly anthropomorphized and turns off both Christians and Jews and anyone else who reads about him. By contrast, Elohim is a magnificent, transcendent being, the ground of the universe, worthy of our praise and adoration.

Keeping on track: Messiah-ists become suspicious of sources of interpretation outside of the Bible and selected writings throughout Christian history. They believe that the Bible represents a form of “pure Christianity” (of which there is no such thing!), and that to interpret through a lens other than the Bible and Jewish world is to make a huge mistake about Christ.

But Christ-ists would insist that Christ is bigger than that- bigger than one culture, bigger than the Bible, that there is more to the Christian mystery and the universe, and besides, if we limit ourselves to the Bible and the world view of those people, we isolate ourselves from the modern world and therefore cannot experience and more importantly share the Eternal Mystery of the Logos with others as easily, whereby said Mystery of Christ appears to each person differently and uniquely.

So Messiah-ists are more likely to be the sort of people who need to nail things down and to have things set in stone. Christ-ists are more likely to see a wider picture and draw parallels among religions while pushing the bar and trying to penetrate more deeply into the Mystery of Christ- or more importantly, allowing the Mystery of Christ to penetrate them more deeply. These are two different approaches, and each has its own merits. In other words, Messiah-ists are more literal-thinking and Christ-ists are more abstract-thinking.

This does not mean that the Messiah-ist denies the Divinity of Jesus, nor does it mean that the Christ-ist denies the humanity of Christ. What matters is where the emphasis lays, what matters is the approach.

Now, a word on Anglicanism (Andy, you knew it was coming). The Episcopal Church, while fantastic for many reasons, oddly enough has a number of people who are shifting towards the “fully human” view of Jesus. I think what happens is that the Christ-ist view gets left out somewhere along the lines, and therefore many Episcopalians are left with Messiah-ism, and a watered-down Messiah-ism at that. I’m not really sure why that is. Bu at the same time, I have heard the saying that Anglicanism is “defined by the Incarnation,” so the notion of the Eternal Christ (that is, the eternal and pre-existent principle that allowed for and created the universe and its laws) limiting Itself in the form and appearance of a human being is something that certainly appeals to the Anglicans.

Now, I want to point out something to everyone else after I’ve written all this: the above categories are something that I invented. If others who have encountered Christianity have made the exact same sort of apprehension and been able to divide the theology about Jesus Christ into said categories, I am not personally aware of this. Others may have categorized this much better than I, so don’t take my views as the golden and solid ones.

Tying this back into Gnosticism: the cosmology of Gnosticism makes far more sense to me than the cosmology of orthodox Christianity. The mystical nature of Gnosticism, along with its sacramental nature and liturgy, appealed to me greatly.

To give a brief and crude summary, in Gnosticism, the Eternal Father, who is the ONE existence, pours forth from his own perfection attributes of himself that reflect himself: this process is called emanation. To understand what this means: God is Eternally Full and Complete in and of himself (that is, Perfect), and the Fullness and Completeness forced into existence reflections of itself. So God’s own Perfection created reflections of itself that are known as the Aeons.

The Aeons appear in masculine-feminine pairs. Different stories exist, but the final pair of Aeons are Christ (Logos) and Sophia. Logos and Sophia respectively would mean, “logic” and “wisdom.”

Different stories exist at this point, too, but the essence is that Sophia tried to emanate from herself without Christ’s help. In another story, she “falls” from her station. In another story, she is essentially raped. She gave birth a kind of lesser god that thought it was THE only god in existence, and with its afterbirth, it created the material universe, even lower gods, and Adam as a kind of helpless slave.

Some Gnostics do view the material universe as evil; they’re often accused of “radical dualism,” which is just not true for the majority of them and certainly not true for the modern Gnostics. Father Jordan Stratford of the Apostolic Johannite Church deals with the attacks on Gnosticism concerning “dualism” rather well in his own blog; I suggest you look him up if you’re interested. His main point is that matter is not the issue: the issue of the material world comes down to being the systems that are imposed on us, the laws and rules and regulations and so on.

Even so: there’s still the view that the material universe is a kind of prison for us, that it is essentially flawed but not evil. And this is where Gnosticism and I part ways: I see the material world as good. I see creation as being a good thing.

The Gnostic would argue that world was created flawed, so flaws are bound to pop up.

The Christian would argue that the world was created perfect, including mankind being created perfect, but that we collectively chose to leave that perfection (which is illustrated in the myth of the Garden of Eden.)

Enter Neo-Platonism. Neo-Platonism has the same system of emanations of the Aeons from God. who is called “The Good.” The difference is that the Creator, which is called Nous, is a being that is a perfect reflection of God (or the Good) and creates the universe. Thus, we can conclude that the Neo-Platonic Nous is one and the same as the Christian Logos, which all adds up to and refers to being Christ. Then comes the World Soul, which essentially splits into various Souls, and here we all are. Again, this is a very, very rough draft of this, and with more research, it can become more refined.

But I think the major issue with me is that I would be properly categorized as a Neo-Platonist who uses Christian imagery to reach the Good as opposed to a Christian who interprets Christianity through a Neo-Platonist lens.

For the moment, Neo-Platonism has resolved the issues I have with both Gnosticism and orthodox Christianity, at least on the intellectual level of trying to sort out the cosmology.

More importantly, Neo-Platonism unmasked the Reality behind Jesus Christ as a cultural phenomenon and revealed Christ as one-to-one universal reality that I have personally encountered; now I understand that this Reality is something quite real, something that I can accept, because I know I’ve encountered it personally.

I want to point out this entry has not been a matter of attacking orthodox-minded Christians or Gnostics; I’ve only wanted to point out my intellectual objections to both of them and how Neo-Platonism has offered a potential bridge between the two and likely among other world religions for the time being.

Moreover, I would say that the Gnostic understanding of their cosmology and scriptures has more to do with the human mind and our psychology than it does with the cosmology of the universe, thus setting them apart and saving them from their opponents attacks. So conflating the ideas of Gnosticism with literal understandings found in other denominations and religions would be a mistake.

I would also like to point out that Neo-Platonism apparently views evil as an absence of good. I can grasp this. I can totally grasp this. Evil is not the presence of something; it is the absence of something, like cold being the absence of heat. So in reality, there is no such thing as “cold,” there is only “absence of heat.”

I like it.

Beaux

P.S. Dear Gnostic Priests, if you happen across this blog and see any number of errors with regards to philosophy and Gnosticism, please forgive me and don’t burn my biscuits too much if you so choose to correct me.

P.P.S. I realize that in writing this blog, I apparently have included even more of an issue of so-called “measuring the spaghetti” instead of eating it, but I would like to point out to all my readers that I meditate/contemplate daily, along with doing a few other non-essential mystical practices, and thus I have action that I take in addition to simply thinking about these things.


On Celebration and Paganism and More

Leave a comment

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

5 Comments

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


Mundaneness and the Spiritual Life: The Great Intersection and Potentially Most Difficult Part

Leave a comment

In ancient times, the spiritual people were of a different caste, a different breed, set apart, and often left the life that would be considered normal.

Some spiritual paths still allow for this, and many have the option of staying in the world as well.

The mystics I know by and large live in this world, the so-called “mundane” world, and thus we are meant to put up with the stresses and hassles of everyday life, from human relationships to scrubbing the toilet to traffic jams.

This path, by the way, is much more difficult, because one must juggle the attachments one has, one must be living in both the real world and the ideal world- a foot in each world, drowning in the ocean of love, and who is nearer the other shore, and at that, which shore? So goes the Sufi sayings.

Dealing with people who have little to no spirituality can seem difficult. People who have a low view of reality, people who don’t have even a rudimentary spiritual understanding or a lick of self-awareness or who are full of ignorance, can grate on one’s nerves.

This is the opportunity, then, for those of us who are awake or more awake or self-aware to become even more self-aware. What I mean to convey is that we must engage actively with people about things that we may otherwise have no interest in, things that are commonplace and unimportant, for the sake of being able to relate to those people, for the sake of being able to show compassion and understanding for them.

After all, few of us are born into enlightenment or the unitive state or whatever you may want to call it. Most of us struggle and fight our way to enlightenment, and frankly, some people, even if they’re aware such a thing exists, aren’t interested in it, period. But most us mystics have some degree of development beyond a “typical” person, even if we’re not completely to the goal. Thus, we must understand that we were not always where we are, and as appalling as it may be to see others who are asleep, they, too, have the potential to come out of their sleeping state onto the path towards enlightenment.

The balance between the mundane world and the spiritual world can be straining, and is in fact straining, but it is meant to be so, for under said strain is where we surrender our ego to the Divine. We, alone, cannot bridge the gap between Heaven and Earth. Perhaps this is one of the meanings of Christ coming as a Redeemer of mankind- that it is ultimately the Divine, not Man, that intervenes and closes the separation between the two forever. In Christ, the God-Man forever unites the Divine and Human natures.

The opposite problem can also arise. There is a potential hazard of the mystic “spiritualizing” things that aren’t, in fact, spiritual. Without falling into an absolutist position on things, it is safe to say, with reliance on reasoning and common sense, that one’s Higher Self and even God alike do not care if you eat pepperoni pizza or sausage pizza; this does not make any difference. That is not what the spiritual life is about.

In closing, I would like to extend my commendation for those who stay faithful through trying times in the mundane world and encourage them to embrace it. We cannot help that some people have not awakened as much as we have, but we can help our own awakening by progressing forward and showing compassion for those who have not yet arrived where we are, as many of us have not yet arrived to our ultimate destiny.

Beaux


Advantage: God is in the Pain

Leave a comment

So, as things have come to what they have come, I have to remember continually to surrender myself to Christ, and yet this is a terrible, terrible thing to have to do.

It is said that before doing so, surrender is the most difficult thing, and after doing so, surrender is the easiest thing.

I suppose I have not surrendered.

The Rock is still there, despite all the pain that has happened recently. I wonder, and I wonder more, and I still wait for the real meaning of things to become clear. Often this can only happen in retrospect, and I do wonder at times how many tears one must cry before one is exhausted.

Bhai Sahib said that the ego cannot go through laughter and caresses; it must be chased with sorrow and drowned with tears.

Perhaps the greatest strength I have is found in the weakness of my sensitivity. Because I am so sensitive, because I live my life in a raw fashion, because it does not take much to hurt me, it does not take much to break me down, it means things that are not hardly perilous to a normal person can be used by God to destroy and grind down my ego. Things that would not phase someone with a stronger personality crush and distort and bend me all around.

Thank God for it. Thank God that my suffering, while tremendous, is not the suffering that some have endured in their lifetimes. This is peanuts compared to what some go through, and that, I think is the ultimate saving grace in it all.

For many mystics, there is not as much suffering, but whatever the reality of the path that I have chosen is, I know that it will and does and has involved suffering; that is obvious, and it is obvious that the suffering is conducive to my progress.

But as I have heard, once the ego goes, there is no trace of it any more- no trace of the entity that suffered all things. One does not sit and remember those things as they were- it could no longer hurt you when you get to that stage, so let us hope, let us hope that this is the final nail in the coffin, and that the ego can no longer dominate.

God is in the pain. Somehow, somewhere, God wants this, and I’ll take it, and I’ll offer it back to Him. God is in the pain.

Beaux


The Dream of Our Lady Sophia

Leave a comment

Dreams are capable of breaking through the normal barriers and conceptions of our consciousness, a snap through the crystalized impression of various deities and spirits.

This happened to me a few nights ago.

I had a dream of the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. She had red hair, she had a white cloak with a red trim around it, and she even had freckles- but she was beautiful in a way that no living person has ever been to me.

Only in retrospect, after awakening, did I realize that I had seen Sophia. I prayed the night before to see Her, I prayed to be with Her in my dreams, in my sleep, and then there She was.

The dream was gorgeous, Sophia was gorgeous, and then, a great synchronicity happened involving Her the next day.

Hail Sophia, full of Light.

Beaux


Older Entries Newer Entries