Black Fire: The Inner Driving Spiritual Truth

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I finally managed to get this blog off my iPad.

Up and down, up and down, around and around. That’s the nature of the spiritual path.

This is, for me, not only an emotional up and down, but also a paradigm up and down- I get tossed largely between Christianity and Sufism, though many wouldn’t see too much of a terrible contradiction between the two. However, with the mind of an intellectual that I have, I have a problem with overanalyzing things and worrying about orthodoxy and how things fit into one system and another.

The practice of the whole thing is also rather a bother at times- for instance, to recite the Christian rosary at one point in the day and at another point to use a mala to recite a mantra or the dhiqr seems to be contradictory.

These leads us to the problem of discovering that not every system can contain everything we need, and yes, we need to able to absorb the best from other systems into our own.

But that also doesn’t include the developments on my own that are almost entirely private in nature. What I mean to say is that there are many things that I do and understand, spiritually speaking, that relate to me and are difficult to explain to others outside of myself. It’s as though I’ve been gifted with a particular religion that belongs to me and me alone but that it parodies other religions or at least borrows some ideas from them.

That is not to say that I have consciously created this system, as I have not.

Sometimes life also indicates that I have been prepared for the longest time for the mystic’s journey.

So, let us turn now to speak of the Black Fire and how this idea relates to everything spiritual I do, for without Black Fire, no spiritual initiative would really be taking place inside of me.

The first time I can consciously remembering experiencing what I call the Black Fire was when I was 12. My sixth grade year was particularly horrible, but a huge upswing happened right at the end. Around this time I began to first become aware of the Black Fire, which is a warm, burning, full sensation that exists somewhere in the Solar Plexus region.

From time to time, I would hear music and songs that reminded me of this era, and the feeling would return, though in a dim, subconscious sort of way.

I had forgotten almost entirely about this experience until I was in 11th grade, at which time I experienced it once more, in full force, one morning while waiting for the bell to ring. The feeling of confidence and stability that it provided was wonderful, but it quickly faded, as was the habit of it.

The night I graduated high school, I had a horrible sense of having not lived up to my full potential during my high school years. Everyone else departed with memories of their friends and hanging out, everyone else had lived a great social life, and in my introspective, shy nature, I had only a few close friends whom I mostly saw at school and only sometimes went out with.

This was when the quest for the Black Fire began. The feeling reappeared one night while I was contemplating life, thinking about who I was and what I had missed out on, and how my social identity did not represent who I truly was- that I had sold myself for some kind of counterfeit personality that wasn’t how I really wanted to be and wasn’t how I wanted to really relate to other people.

Around this time was when I came upon the Actual Freedom Trust, and in some of the correspondence on the mailing list, a person used the term “Black Fire” and “Luminous Darkness.”

Imagine a thunderbolt having just hit one; this was the equivalent of the experience, because the moment I saw these words, I immediately knew what the person meant, and I searched for references to the Black Fire and Luminous Darkness. These terms both describe the experience, but Black Fire has always been my preferred terminology.

They came from Christian mysticism, oddly enough. This was a strange thing for me to have discovered, as this was an era where Christianity meant little to nothing to me other than being a thorn in my side.

But there was no question about it. The Black Fire is what the experience had been.

The Black Fire is the one thing that can determine for me reality. When it is around, there is no anxiety, no worry, no problems. I cannot say that it is always the most loving experience, but it has felt to be a sense of Longing at times. I suppose I have felt love in it, and certainly, in tandem with the Heart Chakra, the Black Fire can become a raging Fire of Love.

So, this is something of the Divine that has been in me all along, a Presence of God, which I have, for whatever reason, failed to recognize as the Immanent Divine.

To bring Bernadette Roberts up again, she speaks of something similar to this, of having been filled by this energy like a balloon early on, as early as the age of 5. This is not how it happened to me; rather, it gradually dawned inside of me, peeking out here and there.

Music often brings the Black Fire to me. Not always, but often. Thus I make it a point to listen to music and enjoy it, because I understand this is one of the ways of relating to God.

Whatever the Black Fire ultimately is, it’s quite real, and not an abstraction or a metaphor. It’s real, it’s substantial, and it’s alive. Somehow, it represents the Perfect, the Ideal, but in a way that isn’t distanced.

There are times when the Black Fire works as something of a measuring apparatus, in which I detect a greater Presence outside of myself. I know of two specific incidences where this happened. Of this I can only say it is the overshadowing of the Transcendent Divine to the Immanent Divine, and I somehow get sandwiched in between.

Hopefully, the Black Fire is a good indicator of Truth, and hopefully, it is the method by which we can work as co-creators in this world. At any rate, the Black Fire is a good thing, benevolent and not malevolent.

Another thought I have of the moment is the distinction Bernadette makes between the Self and the Divine. As many of us already know, Eastern systems hold as almost a dogma that ultimately, the Self and God are one and the same. There is no one else- there is only YOU.

This sentiment has always unnerved me, not because of guilt with the idea of identifying as God, but because it means that if you love someone, you are ultimately only loving yourself; that someone else, that wonderful OTHER, is ultimately just you being projected. This doesn’t seem to quite fit the bill of reality, and the truth be told, I would much rather be absorbed into the Other than to discover that the Other was just me all along.

So today, in having that realization, I felt a huge burden relieved from me. I don’t have to abide with that belief or paradigm any longer; I don’t have to understand myself as somehow projecting myself out onto the universe and ultimately being unable to love another. Rather, the love for the Other can always be so strong that there’s only Love and no longer any “me” to do the loving, and I rather think that is the way it should be.

Of course, that idea may bother many mystics, as it blows out of the water so much of what so many of us have held to be dear for so long. Some would argue that there isn’t any Self or Other to begin with, and that it is ultimately the Self/Other dualism that disappears. Be that as it may, wouldn’t this ultimately point to the premise that the Truth is “Other” as there would be no Self at that point? Food for thought.

Again, as I am not an enlightened person, I can only offer so much of my thoughts on the journey and give insight into what I’ve experienced up until this point; my ideas are likely subject to change upon further investigation and experience.

Back to the Black Fire. For a long time, I thought that the Black Fire had a connection to my social identity. As time progressed, it came to be more identified with the Self, and now I can see how it relates to the Divine. The rabbit hole sees one ever falling.

More later.

Beaux


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

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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


A New Mission

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Having finally completed Bernadette Roberts’s book What is Self? I can now give a greater and fuller commentary on it than before.

Again, I want to point to her unique perspectives on things, and by reading about her journey, I now understand Christianity in a much different light, and it’s only a solidification of the mystical aspects of it.

In mainstream Christianity, there are plenty of errors, which typically begin with a bad approach and eventually devolve into some kind of legalism that requires one to find Bible verses to back up reality. That is not the focus of this entry, however. I can still spew out my spite for the Bibliolatry that so many Christians fall into, but that’s not going to get us anywhere here.

Bernadette is critical of some others who speak about Christian mysticism, notably Evelyn Underhill. Since I have Underhill’s book on Christian mysticism, I’m going to read it and see where she falls in regards to Bernadette.

I do find it strange that Bernadette proposes that we continue even upon the death of the body as we know it- in the sense that there is some aspect of the body that exists that we cannot readily perceive with our senses. As I pointed out before, this seemed to be a lot like the idea of the soul or spirit, only spun differently.

I’ll know when I get there, I suppose.

So my new mission is to go through more of the Christian mystical literature and see what I can find that relates to Bernadette’s experience and potentially to my own experience.

Some would say that I shouldn’t “follow” anyone as a particular teacher, but then, that never worked. I understand that we can’t expect one human to give us everything that we need, and yet maybe that person can take us far enough along the path that we can stand on our own.

I wouldn’t say that I’m following Bernadette Roberts so much as I would say that I’m going to practice Christianity and see if it really does result in what she says it does.

Of course, I should also make the point that she mentions how we can absorb the BEST of all other paths without necessarily leaving our own. And I’m okay with that. I’ve definitely absorbed a bulk of Sufism- but to call myself Gnostic and Sufi is kind of a redundant.

Christianity, even with all the numerous errors that it has produced over the years, is still the basic framework with which we can go in the American culture. Some might object to the Catholic sense of it and go one further to say that American Christianity has largely been puritanical and Protestant in nature, but the Catholic mystery still holds, and I’m all for that.

Beaux


Moods

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I’ve noticed a strange thing about moods.

Basically, a mood comes on, and it runs in the background. If one is in a basically good mood, one may become stressed or dismayed still, but the mood remains basically good- one can bounce back to it.

A bad mood, on the other hand, operates the other way. You may find something funny, you may find something that you enjoy, but the mood is still running on negativity.

This is an intriguing discovery to me, to learn that a mood is something happening unconsciously or at least subconsciously. This makes me wonder: what do we do to improve our mood? What do we to feel happier? How does a bad mood or a good mood come about? Is it all unconscious? Do we have any control over it? It’s curious.

Beaux


Hey, It Can Hurt: To Be True or NOT to Be True; that is the Question! …True or False?

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One of the latest writing prompts from WordPress suggested we talk about Truth and whether or not it hurts; that is, the whole principle of, “Is ignorance bliss?” and so on.

So this is our question:

Is it better to know the truth, or is ignorance bliss?

Truth, truth, truth.

Here’s why: knowing the truth, you can do something. Or you may not be able to do anything. But yes, I think in most cases if you know the truth, you can also respond authentically to that truth. Reality flows, nothing is impeded.

Truth may hurt.

But the ignorance can hurt more.

Ignorance is, in reality, the preparation for a much more unpleasant truth on down the road. Better to hurt a bit now than to be in the dark and get your ass kicked later on. In other words, sooner or later, truth is going to come pushing up through the situation anyway.

For instance (and this a gory example), you may have cancer. And if you do, you need to be told so- so that you can take steps to be healed. But if you’re not told you have cancer, well, what can you do about it? You would just end up dying suddenly.

So truth is better, hands down.

Beaux

P.S. Sorry everyone for the former lack of post. My blog client was having problems.


A Rant on Many Things

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If you venture into the Catholics Answers Forum on catholic.com, you’ll see people who talk about the “stereotypes” of Catholicism and how they’re wrong and so on.

I, too, defend Catholicism quite often, most often from strange Protestant attacks on Catholicism.

But one stereotype that’s interesting had to do with guilt.

Now, you have to remember- this isn’t true for EVERY CATHOLIC- no stereotype is true for EVERYONE in a particular group.

I recently read an excerpt from St. Augustine’s Confessions and was absolutely appalled to see the list of things he mentioned were sins.

Apparently, ANXIETY is a sin- it falls into the category of “distrust.”

In other words, if you experience anxiety, it means you don’t believe in God enough.

I felt guilt pouring into me just reading the list.

So St. Augustine definitely had issues with guilt.

However, I don’t really and truly care for St. Augustine for many reasons- he’s literally one of the biggest hypocrites that has ever existed in the history of the world. While he isn’t without his merit, I always remember his famous statement, “Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.”

St. Augustine makes me angry for that very reason. He is the epitome of Christian hypocrisy and what I see happen so often in the religious world- Christians who go live half their lives in so-called sin, doing whatever the hell they please, then having a conversion experience (which incidentally almost always lines up at the point in their life when their body is just too old to handle copious amounts of drugs, alcohol, loud music, partying, and sexuality), and THEN proceed to condemn people who are doing the exact same things they were just doing when they were younger.

I really want to blow a gasket when I see that happen.

St. Augustine argues using a lot of faulty presuppositions, and I think that’s where his ideas in general fall apart. Not all of them are terrible, but, as with anything, they shouldn’t be taken as absolutes, rather as outlines.

I find it interesting to see Christians invoke the “you’re just moral relativists” clauses when anyone challenges Christian morality while themselves being “morally relativist” when it comes to inconvenient things mentioned in Christianity such as helping the poor, taking care of the sick, stoning people who eat shrimp, and throwing women on the rag outside of the city for a week.

I mean, seriously, folks- come ON. It’s not about being a moral relativist- you can apprehend what morals make sense and which ones don’t. Obviously gay buttsex does not cause Yahweh to rain fire on people on a habitual basis, and stoning a woman who has committed adultery is just ridiculous, much less suggesting that she has to stay outside of the city while on her period.

Christianity, along with most religions, “cherry picks” from the very beginning.

But no one bothers to point out that maybe the reason people “cherry pick” is because they’re trying to make sense of things- and some ideas proscribed in the Hebrew Bible are nonsensical.

I find it strange, too, that so many ignorant Christians are quick to condemn Muslims and point out horrible things about the Koran while conveniently ignoring the Hebrew Bible. There are some PRETTY TERRIBLE THINGS IN THERE.

Again, I invoke the Gnostic approach of allegorical interpretation as the proper mode of understanding. Otherwise, we’re left with a great deal of nonsense mixed into a bit of history and a few wise sayings that quickly falls out of relevance in the modern world and produces nut-jobs that cause heavy devastation to people who are decent and actually interested in the depths of spirituality.

Going back to the original subject, I think many Catholics would stand to argue that yes, indeed, Catholicism breeds a hell of a lot guilt into an individual.

Guilt is a method of control, people. That’s the whole reason it’s a bad thing. I’m not saying guilt is never a necessary response of a person- indeed, someone who has a true moral failing may feel guilty, and the decent among us probably bear more guilt than we should- but creating guilt where it should not be and would not naturally occur is the real problem here.

Anyway, Catholicism has at least made an attempt to move forward regarding gay people. Many Catholics have no problem with gays, and many Catholics are gay- I mean the number of gay Catholics is absolutely ridiculous.

But where it’s stopped is at the relabeling “sodomites” as individuals who experience “SSA.” SSA means “Same Sex Attraction.” It’s a step in the right direction- but the tone is still one of condemnation, and ultimately gay people are disparaged because the only right and holy sex is when a man and a woman are in the missionary position and trying to make babies. Any other kind of sex, and any kind of contraception, is 100% horrible and evil and wrong- summarily, having sex for pleasure is BAD.

But that doesn’t make any sense. Using an individual, having sex with someone only for your own pleasure, leading them on and telling them that you care about them when you only want their body and have no intentions to be faithful to them after using their body- this is wrong, because it involves deceit, manipulation, and emotional abuse. You willingly and willfully hurt another human being.

Two people who are a couple aren’t doing that. They’re together because they care about each other, because they want to build a life together, because they want to experience the world in a united way. The sexuality is a nice part, an important part of a relationship, but it isn’t everything, and most people with half a brain are aware of that.

As I often say, it isn’t rocket science.

To say that if they have sex for the pleasure thereof (because it’s a natural by-product of their mutual attraction and consent with one another ) that it’s a sin is not a negotiable idea here- it’s not worthy of consideration- it’s just stupidity in the works.

Concisely, no one thrusts their hips in bed screaming, “PRAISE GOD, PRAISE GOD, WE’RE MAKING A BABY, PRAISE GOD, PRAISE GOD!” and anyone who thinks that’s actually what goes on is deceiving himself about reality.

Just some thoughts. Venting done.

Beaux


On the Statements Made by Governor Robert J. Bentley of Alabama

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I feel like this blog needs to be written, especially at this point in time.

Recently, the freshly inaugurated Governor Bentley of Alabama made a statement to Alabamians.

“Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters,” he added, according to the paper. “So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Now.

People are making a mountain out of a molehill on the one hand. I think some people are trying to act shocked and appalled that a governor from Alabama would even begin to make statements of a religious nature.

Folks, in Alabama, politicians don’t make a clear distinction between Christianity and the government. That’s not news. That’s an understood reality.

But that’s not my personal beef with the statement.

Do I think it should have been said? Probably not- because in saying it, Governor Bentley has opened up a whole can of worms and turned the unwanted spotlight onto Alabama and its people.

Admittedly, though- and I think we need to be intellectually fair in making this assessment- Governor Bentley’s statement was coming from his own theological system, and he was stating that he wanted to be the brother of those to whom he was not.

In essence, without twisting his words or altering the meaning, Governor Bentley was asking for others to come to salvation in Jesus Christ- which for him was an act of compassion, a reaching out, a sharing of his own spirituality.

He apparently meant it to be a charitable act, not an inflammatory one.

We need to understand that first.

Now that we’ve understood that his heart was in the right place, we can begin the intellectual and theological breakdown of the statement, which is a different matter.

First, he is representing a government office- the office of Governor in Alabama, namely. The inauguration is meant to be a ceremony of the bequeathing and acceptance of the political office, and as such, it must reflect and abide by the rules, regulations, laws, and oaths of the USA. The political office does not require and does not necessitate one to make a religious affirmation of any sort, nor does making such a statement enrich the office. If anything, it detracts from it.

So the real issue here is that the fresh Governor took a private matter of his own life and inserted it into the middle of a ceremony that had nothing to do with the private matter. There was not a reason to bring it up.

Theologically, I could argue from a Gnostic point of view, and go into the extremes of “Jesus-as-Liberator” as opposed to “Jesus-as-Savior” in order to argue that the whole point is that we’re all already brothers and sisters, and accepting Jesus as a Savior gets in the way of following Jesus’s example on how to become liberated.

But I’m not going to argue from that point of view right now.

I think the main issue is that Governor Bentley shared an opinion- a theological opinion– and assumed that the audience shared his theological opinion.

He misses the point, though- Christians aren’t to treat non-Christians as though they weren’t brothers and sisters. To the contrary, the essence of Christianity, as reflected in history and as reflected in the Scriptures, is that Christ Himself helped the poor, the disenfranchised, the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, the sick, the hungry, and the general rejected and neglected of society.

Summarily, Christ was there for those who needed Him.

That is, Christ was there for those people that normal-people society looked down upon.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

However, I am familiar with the particular theological angle that Governor Bentley was using as well- the idea that if we are not adopted into God’s family by Christ, then we are not Children of the Father, and so on. It’s a rather superficial and patchwork understanding of Christianity, and that particular approach does more to create a division between the “Christians” and the “non-Christians” which is a false dichotomy, and honestly, categorizing people according to “Christian and non-Christian” doesn’t sound like something Jesus would had advocated in the first place.

So in closing, I would say that Governor Bentley’s statements were at best shallow theological opinions, and that the rest of us, the Thinking Minority, should probably ignore them.

Despite all that, I still wrote this blog.

Beaux

 

 

 

 


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