Into the Larger Mind...

Into the larger mind. . . This is not about thinking differently but about moving beyond the mind. Jesus is showing us how to do this in his teachings on the Beatitudes. With this in heart, we begin to see “blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted” as a way beyond our usual mind and ways of perceiving.

In his book Prayers for the Cosmos, Neil Douglas-Klotz suggests ‘they who mourn’ can be understood also as ‘those in emotional turmoil,’ ‘those who weep for their frustrated desire,’ and ‘those feeling deeply confused by life.’ If in such a place as these we are blessed, there must be something important about these experiences.

When I reflect on my experience of mourning I can see that when I have allowed myself to go all the way into it - all the way into the pain, frustration, confusion, grief, and sorrow - I have become more tender, supple, soft, and wide enough to be in the midst of profound paradoxical internal experiences. Times of mourning have cut through that which is no longer essential and brought me to the core of myself.

Gerald Sittser says, “Sorrow indicates that people who have suffered loss are living authentically in a world of misery, and it expresses the emotional anguish of people who feel pain for themselves or for others. Sorrow is noble and gracious. It enlarges the soul until the soul is capable of mourning and rejoicing simultaneously, of feeling the world’s pain and hoping for the world’s healing at the same time. However painful, sorrow is good for the soul. In fact, deep sorrow often has the effect of stripping life of pretense, vanity, and waste. It forces us to ask basic questions about what is most important in life.”

Mourning has stretched me. It has also taken me right to that place where I realize that deep within there is something in me that does not break and cannot be diminished by any difficult life circumstance. This is the part of me that exists beyond this life, outside of time, that is connected to the vertical dimension, my eternal nature, the part that Julian of Norwich refers to when she says "my deepest me is God," the part of me that cannot be traumatized here in this world no matter how significant the losses I face. And of course I also have the part of me that lives here in this horizontal realm and has and can indeed be traumatized. But I need not mistake myself for only this and neither ought you.

Mourning is something we must do when faced with any loss and there are many types. We have a huge opportunity when we enter this sacred territory.

Circumstances that bring us into mourning create an opening for us to access the Self that exists beyond time and personal narrative which is always in relationship with our self in time and can help us to be present to ourselves through the process of mourning. Mourning is an active process requiring our engagement which is why it has been considered by William Worden to be a series of tasks. Although not intended to happen in any particular order it involves embracing or accepting the reality of the loss, acknowledging and working through the pain of the loss, adjusting to life after the loss, and finding meaning in the loss and reinvesting in the reality of a new life.

In the West, and this is an over generalization, there is little acknowledgment of mourning and even less space for it. It is messy and it is not linear, uniform or predictable. Mourning is not for the faint of heart. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to lean in and all the way through it. We fear if we give ourselves to it that we will never re-emerge, that it will consume us. There is no way around it, the only passage is through.

When we mourn, when we earnestly allow ourselves to enter the sorrow, we will be comforted if we allow ourselves to see it. Neil words this in other ways as well saying, ‘they shall be united inside by love,’ ‘they shall see the face of fulfillment in a new form,’ and ‘they shall be returned from wandering.’

Mirabai Starr talks about it in this way, “Your God would never punish you for being a human being: this life itself is your penance...But it is also more than that: it is a crucible for transformation. Each trial, every loss, is an opportunity for you to meet suffering with love and make of it an offering, a prayer. The minute you lift your pain like a candle the darkness vanishes, and mercy comes rushing in to heal you.”

Sometimes the cost of an open heart is anguish, but we needn’t hold it on our own. We are met by Great Love and Mercy. God speaks to us in any way that we are open to hear and shows up in any way we are willing to see. We are transformed.

This week, hold inside yourself and meditate on the third beatitude as well as a few alternative translations from Prayers of the Cosmos: Reflecting on the Original Meaning of Jesus’s Words.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

Blessed are the gentle; they shall inherit the earth.

Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within; they shall receive physical vigor and strength from the universe.

Aligned with the One are the humble, those submitted to God’s will; they shall be gifted with the productivity of the earth.

Spend some time in lectio divina with the one that you are most drawn to.