Ecstasy and the Divine Office

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You would think I could make claims to something at this point.

I’ve been on the mystic’s path for some god-awful number of years now, and the problems are always this or that; either there are people of whatever path (in this case, Christian) acting like complete fuckwits, or I have atheists and secular humanists who equally are fuckwitted attacking me and…well, I guess between the two, I’d rather deal with atheists and secular humanists. They tend to behave more like Christians are meant to behave, save for some details.

They do say God is in the details, though.

To the best of my ability, I’m praying the Divine Office. I downloaded iBreviary on my phone and am using that.

Yes, in a perfect world, I would have all four volumes of the Roman version of things and be praying all the things in Latin.

I have to settle for praying things from a digital handheld device. It doesn’t feel as authentic to hold such a piece of technology to do my prayers, but I get the benefit of praying in Latin, which feels incredibly right for me.

I finished reading Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain tonight, almost two years after receiving the book.

To be sure, his whole writing about his “sinful” life was incredibly monotonous, such to the point that I quit reading for a year, and only resumed out of a sense of loyalty to my husband having bought the book for me in the first place.

But Merton’s sudden spiral into Catholicism- well, that sounds like me swirling back into Christianity.

There aren’t many suitable ways to explain it- my favorite way to express what happened is, “Christ compelled me.”

Now, of course, that might sound strange to many people, but to explain it in other terms: my return to Christianity in ANY form came from some Greater Force Outside of Me. No, I’m not doing it to satisfy someone else; it’s largely an internal process.

The same is true of the first time I set foot in Saint Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama. I was almost horrified at the lack of Tabernacle but found quickly that God dwelt there either way, and I wasn’t going to let the lack of a Tabernacle stop me.

Being compelled by Christ is also what began the Divine Office. I predicted I would pray for maybe a week or two and then fall away from the practice.

To the contrary: with the exception of being a bit tired the first time I prayed all the way through the Morning Prayer in the BCP, I have willingly gone into prayer each time. I have been desirous to pray; I have felt the grace of God descend upon me more clearly because I have prayed the Divine Office.

Tonight, I was reading something about Orthodoxy and the Jesus Prayer, and my heart was struck with ecstasy, ecstasy the recalled to my mind the image of the angel piercing St. Theresa of Avila’s heart, an ecstasy so strong that I had to close the computer and do whatever was necessary to make it to the bedroom and lie down to allow whatever was going on to go on.

The feeling began in my chest, somewhere below where we might call the “heart chakra,” and it then moved down somewhere to the bottom of my spinal cord and all the way up mine into the back of my head. It felt profound and wonderful, and I had to just lie down and allow the ecstasy to run its course.

So I know somehow that I’m on the right path. Maybe these things won’t last. But they’re comforting for now, and I feel empowered to serve God through my contemplation or what we might call the prayer of silence or prayer of stillness.

There’s another experience regarding that to be shared soon.


Long-Time, No Post

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I really, really should be focusing more on the posting of my blogs than I am here. I made a promise to try to post at least once a week and have failed at that as well. Craving Aletheia could be a great resource to discuss my spiritual developments, which is precisely what I founded it in the first place, but for some reason, I’ve simply not had as much to say.

To get to the point now, though, I should remark that I’m still doing the meditation every night and have recently figured out something beneficial. Allowing emotions to arise, allowing thoughts to arise, without completely jumping into them and running with them, is a good idea.

Sigmund Freud postulated that we are often motivated by unconscious and irrational forces. One friend of mine posted this once on his Facebook, only to have several of us stand to attention and begin to smack Freud. But at the same time, when my friend clarified what he meant, I think he does have a point- we are often motivated by unconscious and irrational forces.

To get to the point I need to make about this: once you realize that we are motivated by unconscious and irrational forces (yes, I’ve said this three times now) you begin to realize that we are not responsible for these forces- we cannot help them. That does not mean I advocate that we can on every single impulse we feel- what I mean is that I cannot be held accountable for an impulse that arises that’s beyond my control.

Instead, I opt to watch it, arising, without necessarily involving myself in it. I realize that when my feelings, especially the negative ones, have come up in recent years that I’ve had a horrible tendency to make a value judgment. If I feel hate, for instance, my first reaction is to try to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

A better idea is to observe the hate, to admit that I hate someone, to admit that I have hate burning inside of me, which brings us to another point- another friend of mine recently spoke of his situation and said that he hated someone, but he wasn’t consumed by it- he just hated the person, and that was that.

I realize that if one fights the emotion, one fights the impulses, then they will almost necessarily consume one- to try to stop hate inside of one’s self is to fuel its fire.

So I have to admit that I hate people. I do hate certain people. There are individuals and sometimes even groups of people whom I outright hate, and now I can admit that and forthrightly say that I hate them without holding back- and in the same moment, the consuming power of the hate of such groups is gone. I’m no longer consumed with the hate. Instead, I act in a practical manner and do loving things, if I may put it that way- even if I feel hate.

Eventually, when feeling the hate, when questioning, when examining it, it may fade away, or I may find there’s some kind of complex fueling it and will be able to restructure my thoughts.

This is really the issue I have with Jesus in some regards. He tells us not to hate our enemies- to forgive them and such- and then doesn’t explain how we to do that. I say admittance of the feeling, allowing one’s self to feel that feeling, is the first step, and then introspection is required.

Most of us can’t simply decide to stop feeling something. Most of us can’t simply make a decision that things are going to be a certain way in our minds and then make it that way. Most of us have different kinds of personalities, different kinds of experiences, and most of us are highly, highly socialized in this way or that. So I can’t account for everyone, only the majority of people that I’ve met and what I’ve seen in society.

Anyway, as I was meditating, I decided to get very serious with this Sufi meditation of the heart and drowning things in love. My heart doesn’t normally allow me to feel very much love- it may be some Divine ego-control going on, or it may be that I’m too cold of a person to feel the love in my heart normally, but either way, actually creating love in my heart has been the most difficult feat, not to mention some nights (most nights) I just sit and try to meditate.

I finally did manage to imagine myself diving into my own depths and finding a center where there dwells peace, bliss, and love, and combined with the arising of whatever feelings and allowing them to be dissolved into the love seemed to definitely help me out. I can feel my heart even burning with a bit of the love-fire at this point.

I haven’t felt the Grace of God in a long, long time. I waited and waited in the summer and never felt it. Then autumn arrived, and knowing the first time I felt it in the autumn of 2008, I had a greater sense I would feel it- but no, it wasn’t there are the equinox. Then yesterday, September 30th, I felt HER, the Divine SHE, blow in on the wind, into my work, in my heart, and I smiled and knew that God the Holy Spirit had descended once again in all Her Majesty, bringing with Her all Her Grace and Blessings. I couldn’t help but smile at this point- my heart was so full of joy, so full of hope, so full of love. I even feel tearful now as I write these words because of very, very precious God is in those moments.

I shall now wrap up this blog.



The Past Few Days

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From what I can tell, something inside of me has indeed changed or altered- and whatever has changed or altered hasn’t become undone for something like a week at this point, and so I’m beginning to guess that this must be largely permanent, even if there are fluctuations within the state of being.

Now, what exactly has changed, I cannot begin to explain to you- I’m not totally sure what’s gone or altered. The Self is still present- there’s definitely an emotional system and a sense of being alive. So, too, the ego still seems to be around, which is to say that I still have a sense of an “I” within me.

But what has changed? How can I begin to explain it?

First, there’s been the tiredness or the Grace of God or what have you that has almost not let up at all. There seems to be a great, deep stillness within me, but that may not even be the correct word. Peace doesn’t do it justice, either- it’s just something deep that isn’t moving as it once was, which is not something that most people would understand.

Here and there I’ve also had incredible bursts of love and affection, a sense of seeing other humans as essentially my children. In seeing other people as my children, I came to an understanding that I didn’t have before. My sense of being different from them is not necessarily a matter of feeling superior to other people but seeing the difference in spiritual maturity that allows for me to be compassionate towards even the most hateful of people. There are still human tendencies in me where I can see that I don’t like certain people or have a sense of anger at others, but these things aren’t terribly strong.

Last night, a certain kind of mystery was revealed to me that I can explain here but that will likely be beyond the comprehension of those who hear it. I’ll take the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and use them: let he who has ears, listen.

When I tried to meditate, I found my mind was particularly filled with music, and so I decided to look up music online. I talk about the “brain radio” that I have- I can hear a song, and my brain will encode so many details about the song that it’s difficult for me to not hear the music constantly. The playing in my head is constantly, and this has been going on since childhood, I know. The dhikr, if placed here, could be and would be repeated automatically with no volition of my own, and that’s the way it should be.

In the meantime, I looked up the music from video games that I played in my childhood, and hearing the music, I began to understand why music calls me in the way that it does, why I have been drawn into the world of music, why I love music- it is because it is God crying to Himself. This is difficult to explain, but there is a saying of the Sufis about a man who cried to God, and khidr comes to him to tell him, “Do you not realize that your, ‘Allah, Allah, Allah’ was His ‘Here I Am?'”

This takes us to a point that is purely experiential. You come to understand that it is only God who loves, only God who rejoices, and only God. ONLY GOD. The meaning of the shahada, “La ilaha illa Allah” becomes clear at this point- there is no God but God, there is no Divinity that is not Divinity, that ultimately, God is the one who experiences, who rejoices- all Hope is God’s, all Joy is God’s, all Love is God’s.

But this makes no sense to us, as humans- why, then, are we the ones who suffer, who seemingly contain this experience of God? I have no idea.

I do know in hearing the music last night and being caught in the fit between laughter and tears that I kept looking up at the crucifix on my wall and had a distinct impression that I finally understood what it is that Jesus had been trying to tell me all this time. I understand the mystery that Jesus attempted to explain, but His Mystery is beyond words, pure and simple. At least right now the Mystery is beyond words. Maybe in the future, I’ll be able to explain it.

Today, I awoke with a sense of love burning in my heart, and I had, for one of the first times in my life, the sense of burning with love AND the sense of being the guy I am supposed to be, a working together of both the heart chakra and the solar plexus chakra, something that had been a kind of intellectual antagonism before. This, too, should eventually reveal the mysterious connection between Sufism and Christianity, though my ultimate guess is that the Gnostics show a perfect Sufi relationship in the central redemptive myth of Sophia’s fall and her subsequent longing for Christ, whereupon Christ saves her by command of the Father. I look forward to the further revelation of these things.

To have a sense of who you are, who you truly are, and for it to be something that is beyond a narrow social definition and at the same time for it to not be some weird, abstract sense of the Buddha-nature is a powerful experience indeed- and what I mean is that the Buddha-nature and Atman are discussed in terms of this kind of faceless, personality-less sense of being, and this is clearly not the case. There is a distinction among personality and ego and Self, and with all the garbage and mental masturbation that goes on about spirituality these days, it’s ridiculous to see that nobody gets something this simple.

But of course, a great deal of what we see today has nothing to do with experience- instead, people spew out the accounts and speculations of others and have absolutely nothing of their own to contribute, and this is a great error in our age.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so critical, as I’ve made the same mistake- just look at what happens when I get interested in orthodox Christianity. But the truth is, I’m not an orthodox Christian, and I may not even be Christian for that matter, and hell, I may not even be Sufi! Who knows at this point?


3 AM-ish Ramblings and the Ides of March

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A number of wonderful things have begun happening recently, a number of beautiful synchronicities and the wonderful things that these signs bring.

Problems abound, but there’s no reason and no time to worry about those. Instead, I have to focus, alas, on myself- and on the others who are resonating with me. Leave it to God and the inner vibrations to attract and repel people to and from you.

We must always progress forward consciously. Time is of the essence, and we must use it wisely and wholly and fully.

Where am I inside myself? Somewhere that I’m finally beginning to accept the ego, which is the only way for me to dissolve it. Or rather, it is the only way to allow the ego to be dissolved by God. That sounds more accurate.

So now I understand that I have to set goals and boundaries for myself, inside myself, and that it’s okay to be flexible, but there should still be something there to help ground me.

The energy on the way home tonight was familiar; this is the energy of changing tides, an energy that comes right before something happens, and something good at that. The preparatory energy, as it were. Perhaps this another form of the Grace of God, and this is a form I have felt specifically on four occasions of which I know.

The Ides of March is especially going to be important.

I constantly question if my decisions and movements are the right ones. I wonder why things happen the way they do. My heart breaks, but I have to keep going. Intestinal fortitude is incredibly important.

Heartbreak has forced me to grow inside myself. Heartbreak has forced me to mature. Until you have known that bitter world of utter desolation in which there is nothing but a grey sky and rocky ground in all the psychic territory around you, you cannot know what it is like. But it is there that the greatest Alchemist changes your lead into gold, and though I wish it were not so, it is the truth, pure and simple.

Not everyone must go through this. But the Sufi must.

I think the major problem with forming a specific mystical map is that mysticism’s maps are extremely rough and general. Perhaps we can outline what happens to the person in a general sense, certain stages that each person will pass through, but this a huge area, and we may not all pass through the same territory, experience the same things, and benefit the world in the same way.

That does not take away our role of importance. Each of us is important, whether or not we realize it, and perhaps our importance is not something that we can fully and completely know.

I, for one, am not keen on the idea of waiting around. I am not keen on the idea of not going all the way. I am not keen on the idea of accepting a half-assed enlightenment.

But I’m also not keen on accepting the dogma of others. Obviously what others have said in terms of dogma and doctrine and presupposition has so often failed that anything that one says in this regard requires examination, reflection, and sometimes an altered view.

And that’s okay.

One thing that bothers me in this day and age are the platitudes that people spew out. Things such as, “Oh, just accept who you are!” and so on really bother me.

Being a person who has encountered a low-esteem and battled with it his entire life, I’m well aware of what it means to not love one’s self. The oft-cited example I have is when I was 6th grade and the teacher of my history class asked if anyone in the room didn’t love themselves, and then proceeded to ask us to raise our hands. In this moment, I lied, for I did not raise my hand, but it was true- I was 11 years old and did not love myself.

The reality is that the concept of “loving myself” was not even present, not even the slightest degree. I didn’t like myself, and how much less did I love myself?

There can come a point inside an individual in which they are generally a mature, healthy person who reasonably cares about themselves and others. This is something of an ideal, and there’s a point where one can see one’s own true specialness and wholeness and completeness; one sees that’s one very existence is an awesome and incredible phenomenon, and that being here, in this world, as this mortal body, is a fantastic feat of the cosmos.

But such experiences rarely last or persist for too terribly long.

Loving one’s self is difficult because we first have to figure out if who we are is who we’re meant to be, or if we’ve created a false self. This is my situation- the person I have been “trained” to be is not the person I wish to be or portray or express; the huge problem, as I’ve always said, is the gap between the “inner” awesome me and the seeming perceptions that others have of me in a social sense.

It would likely be impossible to project to others who one really is in every single moment of every single day, if for no other reason than other humans would misunderstand the reality one was expressing because of their own bias and perceptual filters.

But at the very least, one could be reassured that this energy was what one was displaying, and that if the other people around one misunderstand that, it was their problem and not one’s own.

The next problem encountered is the energy level required in order to continue that expression of one’s self. The body, seemingly, can simply not handle it. There is not enough energy in the body to keep it up; one eventually comes to a point where one is exhausted and falls into the easiest patterns, which should not be confused with the most authentic or truest ones.

And what is there to say of the moments of identity loss? What is there to say of moments of such peace that it doesn’t matter either way? These all complicate the issues of trying to live as an individual in the society, and that’s okay, too.

The Ides of March is coming, and the Black Fire is howling; the Grace of God is descending, and now is the time to appeal to the Earth-Father and Aphrodite Urania and Eros Urania.