Saturday, February 27, 2010

Soul Sweets





One’s outer life is like a seed that must die for the soul to live fully. As Jesus said,

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

When this “death” of the egoic person occurs, some sorrow is natural. The soul has - until then - completely identified with its external life. The soul has sympathized with it's struggles and problems, and imagined existence to be nothing more than this.

But the demise of the outer man signifies that a vital transformative process is occurring: namely the birth – or rebirth – of the whole man. The germination of that seed represents a quickening the soul, an awakening to its essential reality. The soul turns away from an externalized, incomplete projection of itself manifested as the ego, and devotes itself to birthing the seedling of Being.

As God first breathed life into the soul, so in a sense the soul had also breathed life into the ego. The ego became the soul’s reflection into this world, the mirror through which it came to see and know itself, to differentiate between truth and falsehood, most especially through the process of “sinning.”

Sins typically produce judgment upon those who commit them by those who do not, but rarely do they result in real understanding, wisdom or compassion. It is only one’s own sins, personally committed violations of the spirit of life, which teach those things. The soul, through its instrument the heart, must - and invariably does - experience the pain of “transgression.”

In fact, it longs for this pain. It fervently desires the fullness, the wholeness, the depth as well as height, of all experiences that God has made possible. The soul is “born” a babe, innocent and na├»ve, yet only through sorrow’s door may it venture into the household of the King. Only after having tasted humility via a seemingly self-imposed exile from the Light of Love can it appreciate the glory of divinity.

The rags of its human apparel must be discarded at this formidable entrance. Yet it is through having borne and worn such forlorn garments that the soul has gained its power. By undergoing the journey through profound darkness, it learns to perceive the unimaginably wondrous - that it, a creature, was made in the very image of God Almighty. Thus humbled and strengthened, it prays the ultimate prayer - for union with God.

St. Teresa of Avila speaks of this state in The Interior Castle:

“True union transcends all earthly joys, exceeds all earthly delights, surpasses all earthly satisfactions. You can tell from experience that this joy has a very different source of origin. The difference is like feeling something with the skin of your body or the marrow of your bones. I think that hits the nail on the head. I don’t think I could say it any better than that.”


As the holy Light dawns, it is felt as much as seen, for the soul’s powers of knowing are of a different order from those of the ego, of the conceptual man. They radiate throughout the body and convert the entire organism into a unified instrument for communicating with the divine.

Like an ant, which from outdoors on a blade of grass detects a grain of sugar dropped upon the kitchen counter, the soul distinctly perceives the infinitely subtle “sweetness of God.”

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good,” says King David (Psalm 34:8).


Seeking this sanctified sweetness, the soul moves unflinchingly past its personal sorrows toward the eternal nourishment, using every faculty at its disposal. Thus, even the skin and the marrow of the bones become required participants in the mystery of communion and union with the divine.

And the incarnation of God into human form occurs once again . . .

. . . this time in us.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Soul Food





Outer experiences are really inner experiences. Whatsoever happens on the external level derives its significance and perceptual impact from our inner state. When we are not comfortable within, nothing without can bring comfort.

Teresa of Avila suggests this in “The Interior Castle.” Describing conditions in the Fourth Mansion she writes,

“If we find peace where we live, there is no conflict that can disquiet us.”

One way to come closer to peace is to stop considering one’s outer life as a realm where things go wrong, problems which are resented and resisted. It is actually possible for conflicts and crises to produce the very energy needed for inner growth.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus then said,

“He must increase but I must decrease,”

The outer person should lead progressively to the inner one, decreasing while the latter increases. The Christ Self is the germ of the seed which, as it begins to grow consumes the nutrition of the surrounding seed material.

Our “lives” as we know them, our ego selves – are food for the emerging Self within. If we understand this, crisis and catastrophe lose their threatening power and appear as sources of transformational energy for the seedling soul growing toward the light.

This awareness brings peace where we live.

Conflict can not disquiet us when digested into soul food.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Inner Child



The “Inner Child” mythology is usually presented in terms of a wondrous and beautiful being within that we would automatically love and adore.

My encounter with this person inside wasn’t like that. In fact, as it became more experiential than theoretical, I discovered the Inner Child and I were very much at odds. We glared at each other from a distance suspiciously.

The adult taunted, “You’re the kid that your parents rejected! They didn’t like you so why should I?”

While the Inner Child spat right back, “You’re the adult who has screwed up his life. Why would I want to grow up toward you?”

This dynamic was unexpected and troubling. I didn’t know how to interpret it until it I realized it was symbolized in the life and Passion of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was the embodiment of sinless innocence, of divine beauty incarnate, yet He was rejected to the very death. Isaiah wrote:

“He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

The Inner Child is not merely “me” at a younger age. It seems to be a self, the Self, the expression of divinity incarnate that is nevertheless rejected and despised by the worldly egoic “me.”

The Inner Child is actually in a sense the Master of this organism, to whom the ego should, and eventually must, surrender its control.

Here is the archetypal conflict, in which some form of crucifixion is predestined and inevitable.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shadows




Peter Pan remained a child because he had lost his shadow. Without his shadow something was missing, some important information about who he was and how he fit into the world of substance. Without a shadow he could not grow up.

Under certain circumstances a person might appear to have several shadows, such as when walking under a set of street lamps in the night. From whatever source light is coming, there is the side of us that is illumined and a side that casts a shadow – a side that remains out of sight.

In terms of the psyche, this shadow side is most often unconscious to its owner. Yet it still influences events. Indeed, being unrecognized and unmonitored, it can have a tremendous effect, yet remain incognito. A person feels at the mercy of powerful but incomprehensible forces.

Like Peter Pan, the child within us is in search of its shadow because it knows it needs to grow up.  It wants to expose this seeming monster, which is really nothing other than the unseen dimensions of its own self, to the light. It craves to become fully consciousness in order to be free of the fear of an “other” that doesn’t really exist as a separate entity.

As the process of individuation progresses, the shadows that had formerly been invisible (until they fomented some crisis, at least) begin gradually to grow more opaque. They can be felt and even seen to some degree.

Wendy sews the shadow to Peter's toes and it becomes part of him, reflecting his place in the world of beings. Its ability to create havoc is contained.

When this connecting, this embracing of the shadow happens, we can make conscious choices about its influence in our lives.

And we begin to understand that the shadow is not merely ours,

but us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feast




For lunch there is a can of kippered snacks. I hold it in my hands and images of herring appear, darting through the cool vastness of the sea.

With reverence and appreciation I consider the freedom these creatures have relinquished in order to be with me today. In return I offer them a continuation of their life as part of mine.

I feel a movement of grace between us, the energy of acceptance passing from my hands into their flesh and back again.

Some people do call this practice of blessing food, “Grace.”

We commune in silence, the fish and I, each surrendered in our own way to the mystery and magnitude of life.

The moment is magic . . .

As before the can is even opened,

This simple meal of kippered snacks

Becomes both a prayer

And a feast.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nostalgia




Nostalgic thoughts seem a bit like fat wormy things twirling through the ethers. They don’t have fangs or long claws, because these are not necessary. They don’t need to be fast and furious to be accepted. Nostalgia is virtually irresistible and knows it. So those thoughts can be slow and lazy about coming along.

At least, until a person reaches a certain level of discernment. Before then, nostalgia worms can enter easily into a person’s thought field. They pass nearly undetected because of their sedating seduction into feeling something “familiar” that is “missing.” A person opens to this impression, falling through amnesia into the Neither-Either Land of What-Is-Not.

Neither-Either Land is a pretend place of limitless unfulfilled promises or possibilities: those which never happened and those which will never happen again. A wanderer here is overwhelmed with yearning for what he thinks can never be or could never have been.

Such visitations to N.E.L. generally happen many times. It is as though one must hope every last God-forsaken hope, and experience those hopes dashed ad infinitum, until the face of perpetual disappointment is beheld and known in every feature.

Such a stark image of hopelessness is intolerable even though, or perhaps because, it is ultimately false. The wanderer eventually realizes that anguish cannot be appeased through nostalgia, and that there is no release from the dungeon of despair until he is able to answer the following question in the affirmative:

“Do you really want to live . . . now?”


For one who is adrift in Neither-Ether Land, this is by no means an easy reckoning. He will almost certainly say, with grim determination, “No, I do not!” Because nostalgia posits that life in this moment is life without something he wants but cannot have.

And so, disappointment carries him further and further down into the realm of dissolution, where the hardened brick of impossible desires is broken bit by bit into tiny meaningless particles. When there is nothing left to hold onto, then suffering loses the power to possess.

This is the nadir of the dark night, the point at which the forces of light begin to increase. Faint at first, felt rather than seen, more of a fragrance than a vision, dawn trembles through the void.

The wanderer gradually perceives that something has changed. The seemingly endless darkness begins to wane, the mortal chill to warm, the fog of confusion to disperse.

Light brings discernment. Even a candle’s flame can make a blackened room negotiable. Shadows appear, illuminating form.

Before, nostalgic thoughts were invisible until actually felt as intrusions. Now, their wormy shapes can be seen and no longer seem inviting, but rather tedious and tiresome. Consequently they find no receptive landing place.

And with attention embracing the Now, the energy of the Present blows them away like a wind.