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

 

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On Meditation

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I have literally been meaning to write this blog for a while, as its contents may be one of the more important things that I’ve put forth. 

During meditation a few weeks ago I made a discovery of a kind of “mind-map,” if you will, that explains how the psyche works during meditation. 

Too much theory and too many models and too many maps CAN be problematic as they can quickly become overly complicated and will essentially tell us nothing; this will be simple.

Three parts of the mind include

1) The Participating Thinker

2) The Subconscious Thoughts

3) The Ego

Now, to explain what I mean:

The Participating Thinker is the part of our mind that consciously engages in thinking, that consciously weighs options, ideas, and goes through the whole process. Someone says something, we think on it, we engage it, it happens because we’re pushing the buttons and driving the motors.

The Participating Thinker is the easiest part of the mind to relax and get settled. Focusing on one’s breath or whatever object of meditation is what will cause the PT to slowly disappear.

The Subconscious Thoughts are more difficult to deal with, mainly because we’ve no conscious control over them. I consider this part of the mind to be a kind of threshold between the conscious and subconscious, as these thoughts are the ones that seem to intrude on meditation relentlessly; one moment, you’re quiet, then the next, you’re having an argument in your head over the price of eggs or wanting to explain something to someone. 

IF you can control the Subconscious Thoughts and get them to stop, good- that’s the hard part.

Then there’s the Ego- the actual awareness of all these things going on. The Ego has, so far, not disappeared for me during meditation. I suppose one might say I’m not very good at meditating, but I’ve almost always been aware of what was happening and maintained a self-reflection in knowing that I exist. 

Now, there may well be more parts to the mind that than these three; the subconscious itself, the unconscious, what have you, but I’m saying that for the purpose of meditation, THIS is what I’ve seen, and I thought it would be good to report it.

Beaux 

Weakness and Strength

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There’s the kind of wisdom existing among the ages that our weaknesses are our greatest strengths. This is even indicated in the book A Wrinkle in Time, and there’s a Sufi story about a pail of water that has holes in it that I’ll share now.

The bucket has holes and loses half the water each day as the man carries it back and forth- it feels incompetent around the other buckets. Then one day, as they’re walking along the path, the bucket notices flowers growing. The man carrying the bucket tells him that he knew of the bucket’s weakness, and used it to his advantage.

The ultimate idea is that God will use our weaknesses to His advantage; our weaknesses are actually hidden strengths.

Bringing this to practical reality:

How in the hell are social anxiety, reclusiveness, and shyness supposed to be my strengths?

Anxiety, specifically, social anxiety, has set my entire life on the weirdest course I’ve ever seen. I’ve avoided so many things that normal people give no thought to, and I’ve been uncomfortable and quiet in situations where normal people flourish. To make the point, it just doesn’t make any sense to say that it’s somehow a strength- at this point in my life, it seems like the anxiety has taken more from me, more from my happiness, more from other people’s happiness, than it has given.

So the tactic I’ve developed in life has largely been one of avoidance, has largely been one of making myself scarce and staying out of other people’s way. I feel like if I can do my thing and not obstruct other people, if I can just stay out of their way, I won’t succumb to their wrath, I won’t anger them, I won’t get in trouble.

So I try not to make waves.

When I do become louder and more open, I feel like people largely just think I’m annoying, and so I prefer the quiet aura. There’s no reason not to- it’s historically been effective and kept me safe, whereas being more extraverted has historically caused me pain.

Maybe I just go to extremes and should seek a balance, but then I’m always one for questioning the dogma of balance that pervades modern thinking. Maybe life isn’t meant to be balanced- maybe the chaos is the natural way of things.

Who knows?

Someday, I think I’ll know and understand all this. Maybe the whole point is to keep me away from people so I’ll turn to the contemplative life. Maybe the whole point is to make sure I’m in a place where I can have meditation and quiet. Maybe the whole point is that I have social anxiety because I’m so open to other people that I get all their superficial levels AND their bullshit hitting my energy core and it sends me reeling.

I pray that one day, it will fall away, and that people won’t make me want to break down into tears, or that suffering will be so minimal that I can bear more than seems humanly possible.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus will guide me, I know. God’s Love will guide me. The better and more I understand God’s Love, the more I’ll know what to do in life.

Beaux


Reflection

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Now I understand.

Spirituality comes with a grave sort of responsibility that many people may not understand or may be unwilling to accept. To not understand that one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings can have external affects in a way that most people are unaware (a psychical sort of way, you might say) is to be extremely ignorant of the damage one may cause.

So I see that the roughness that’s happened recently has all been a reflection of my own inner attitudes, my own aberrant desires, my own faults and failings, all affecting other people. This is not to suggest that I’m all-powerful- this is rather to bring me to the realization that my connection with the inner world has a very real and tangible effect on the outer world, and that I must surrender my Will to God or risk hurting and devastating others.

I don’t want to hurt anyone- myself, my boyfriend, my friends, or even strangers. So I have to work towards greater perfection within myself. I have to continue along the Path, I have to continue to seek God, I have to continue to live out my sense of self while looking deeper and deeper within, potentially to the highest experience of the no-self- if that is indeed the highest experience.

It is true that in our world, so many things seem unstable, so many things seem random, chaotic, and unaffected. To think that our thoughts affect others is seemingly preposterous and almost sheer heresy by modern standards, so to see the actual effects of our own internal world on the external world (without a direct physical connection- no verbalization, no acting out, no body language, no hidden references and so forth) is bewildering and takes us into the realm of the unknown.

The connection, at least for me, is not necessarily a stable one. The instability, though, has a pattern to it, not unlike my mood swings and my social anxiety- all of it is cyclical, the so-called “spiral path” that I’ve mentioned.

But to chart it would be almost impossible, other than to literally write down my mood from day to day and write down when exactly it changed. In some cases, our moods do change because of certain psychological cues- something happens, and we’re affected accordingly- but in some cases, there is no external cause.

I long for the ego to fall away. Maybe I don’t really long for this as much as I say I do- I wonder if great mystics of the past ever questioned if they really wanted God as much as they felt that they did. What I cannot deny is that the ego is a great, great burden to carry around, that the ego creates more than enough problems for me in my life, and that if God were to take the ego and replace it with Himself, things in life would be much, much easier for me and everyone else.

I’ve learned something else recently- the difference between actually redirecting your focus and reasonably dealing with one’s feelings to lessen their intensity and outright repression or suppression of said feelings. The difference is specifically in that redirecting your focus happens after you have embraced the feeling- “Yes, I feel angry, and this is why I feel angry. However, there are more important things in life, things that make me happy, and to focus on the anger is to feed it, whereas to focus on the things that make me happy not only lessen the anger but also expands my view of the universe.”

That came out sounding way more Positive Thinker than I meant for it to, but the point is that one doesn’t deny feeling angry (or sad or what have you) or deny that it exists, and at some point in time, an analysis is in order of one’s anger and why something provokes one to anger in the first place- whether it’s an immediate reaction or related to some deeper inner trauma.

Right now, I’m exhausted, and the exhaustion, I think, has stunted the ego’s overall influence. I can’t say that there is no ego whatsoever, but it definitely feels less in tact than normal. That being said, I’m going to try to read some and sleep.

Beaux


Meditation

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Do you ever take something for granted, then go without it, only to miss the actual benefit you had in doing that something to begin with?

Tonight, I meditated, really meditated, for the first time in a long time- about a 40-minute long venture, listening to a lecture by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.

I hit some critical level that benefited me greatly, going somewhere in myself that I can’t completely explain. Needless to say, I realize now that what’s been bothering me so much lately is the fact that I haven’t been properly meditating.

Sure, I’ve tried a few times, and I’ve meditated for about 10 minutes at a time before falling asleep, but I haven’t actually sat down and given it a worthy go in a while.

My moods had been suffering, my thoughts had been suffering, my life had been suffering, and then when I meditated tonight, I was able to see the “why” of all those things. A new boost of confidence has hit me, something that feels right, something that feels good, something that tells me that everything’s going to be okay.

Like many intellectuals and artists who are moody, I have the tendency to be able to think myself into a bad mood and then find myself unable to extricate myself from the mire of a bad mood into which I’ve thrust myself. But if one can think oneself into a bad mood, one reasons that one should be able to think oneself into a good mood.

That tends to be pretty difficult. Sometimes, a simple thought will change my whole outlook on things, and my entire world will suddenly turn back to being 100% okay. A lot of times, though, it seems like everything is hopeless and rapidly spiraling in the wrong direction.

Maybe things are just simpler than I give then credit for. Or maybe they’re so dauntingly complex that I don’t want to spend my time attempting to think about them.

Either way, meditation made me feel better, so I highly recommend it.

Beaux


Mysticism

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As this blog and many of my writings often refer back to the fact that I am a mystic, it would be helpful if some kind of working definition were provided to explain precisely what I mean by the word “mystic.”

To my own knowledge, there are several different uses for the word “mystic,” and this is precisely why it will help to explain what I mean when I say “mysticism” and “mystic.”

According to the dictionary on my computer:

mystic |ˈmistik| noun

a person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.

That definition resonates very well, as abstract as it may be. Contemplation as read above is defined more so in the Christian sense, whereby “contemplation” and “contemplative prayer” are analogous to what we Westerners now call “meditation” that comes from the East, e.g., clearing and stilling one’s mind.

Gladly I would admit the above definition at any time.

According to Dictionary.com:

mys-tic

-adjective

1. involving or characterized by esoteric, otherworldly, or symbolic practices or content, as certain religious ceremonies and art; spiritually significant; ethereal.

2. of the nature of or pertaining to mysteries known only to the initiated: mystic rites.

3. of occult character, power, or significance: a mystic formula.

4. of obscure or mysterious character or significance.

5. of or pertaining to mystics or mysticism.

–noun

6. a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy.

7. a person initiated into religious mysteries.

Mysticism, from Dictionary.com:

Mysticism, noun

1. the beliefs, ideas, or mode of thought of mystics.

2. a doctrine of an immediate spiritual intuition of truths believed to transcend ordinary understanding, or of a direct, intimate union of the soul with god through contemplation or ecstasy.

3. obscure thought or speculation.

Definition 2 would resonate with what I mean, followed closely by definition 1, and I would outright reject definition 3 in terms of what I mean when I say “mysticism.”

These definitions, too, summarily tell us as much about mysticism as we can immediately tread within the confines on my own blog.

So what do I mean when I say “mysticism” if we go beyond the technical definitions? What do I mean in saying that I am a mystic?

I mean to say that it is my own experience, my own direct encounter with God, the Absolute, the Ultimate Reality, or whatever term you may like to use, that counts, that allows for Salvation, that allows for Freedom, and that is not the product of a book, of a ritual, or of the authority of some outside source.

That does not mean that I think outside references to God are completely and utterly worthless; time and time again I will repeat how the Sacraments and Sacred Scriptures of various traditions are extremely important if understood in the proper context, and I think the whole mess that Religion proves itself to be so often is that said the majority of people who practice those religions have no clue what’s really going on or supposed to be going on but smugly assume that they and their backwards interpretation of things constitute the entire Truth of Reality.

Typically I try to watch out for people who assume that they know everything and that they and they alone have the Truth, because those people are usually the ones who are the most dangerous and hateful. Mystically speaking, everyone is privy to the Truth and has the birthright of coming to God- but no one is forced or evangelized to be a mystic, and mystics, as a general rule, tend to be accepting of other people’s Faiths and Traditions and seek the underlying Reality that is God in every human being and in every practice.

Then again, I understand that I cannot speak for any other mystic, only this mystic! That doesn’t disqualify this as my general understanding of things, however.

I realize in writing all these things that it sounds incredibly abstract and ethereal, and the truth is that mysticism often works with a level of reality seemingly so subtle that the only way to even begin to express anything of it is to speak in extreme abstractions.

People often ask me what I “believe,” and in essence, they’re questioning my basic world view, wondering what it might be. Most of what I’ve written above counts for that, though it may be a little more detailed. The mystic world view is the basic, absolute core of how I view things, and even then I realize it’s subject to change depending on the situation. However, mysticism is often fluid enough to where such changes are not a terrible thing.

The problem is in trying to express mysticism in every day language and in finding an appropriate religious context in which to pour the energy. This is what has produced, in the minds of the people that I know, my apparent “changing of religions so often.” The reality is that my core “beliefs” never change, or rarely do, and that a different set of symbolism in a religion suddenly comes up to me and speaks to me.

My own conflict with religion is that so often the “orthodox” (from the Greek meaning “correct belief”) views constrict the mystery and life out of the religious experience, and then claim that whoever disagrees with them is a heretic and must be excommunicated. The other difference is that the orthodoxy of many religions requires you simply swallow whatever they teach you with no questions, and then go on your merry way just nodding your head in agreement.

Mysticism, on the other hand, provides the doctrines, rituals, and symbols as guideposts in a religion- they refer to the Living God, they symbolize the Living God, they speak and attempt to meagerly proclaim the Living God, but they are not the Living God in all His Absolute Glory; experience them, yes, but experience them in order to experience God.

Yes, it all goes back to the direct, one-on-one encounter with God, and I must say I’m quite fine with knowing for myself as opposed to putting my belief in someone else’s belief in someone else’s experience.

Praise be to God!

Beaux