The wellspring of the precious spiritual raw materials, virtues and fruit [mercy, trust, courage, forgiveness, humility, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, perseverance, gentleness, self-control, etc.], Cynthia Bourgeault tells us, are first and foremost substances which are desperately needed for this planet. In the absence of them is devastating malnutrition. We feel this, sense this and know this as we see the truth of it all around us and sometimes within us. It can be difficult not to either ignore the reality of this malnutrition or to be consumed discouragement and hopelessness. It is encouraging to keep coming back to our human task to participate in generating them. . . to take up our post best imaged by the Sufi turner who with one hand opened up toward the sky receives from realms beyond and with the other hand palm down toward the earth bestows them to this realm. . . to remember this inner posture daily in all that is required of us from life.
As I mentioned last week, Cynthia reminds us that our work is to go against the grain and do this pro-actively. She says we are at the wrong end of a vicious cycle waiting for something to be earned before we bring forth these substances. But by the deeper more vital self within us who is at home in the Imaginal (Kingdom of Heaven) we are capable of breaking out of this cycle, choosing to bring these vitamins forth regardless of whether we deem the situation or life circumstances deserving. She tells us we must step up to the plate because we, as wisdom students and contemplatives, are in the position to do so. . . to live beyond our usual notions of our self in time following Yeshua and Mary Magdalene’s, as well as many others, example. They surrendered without counting the cost and tuned their attention to and drew continuously from these more subtle substances. We are in a position to do this work because our practices pattern in us these same capacities. In centering prayer we pattern into our being letting go of all of our programs for happiness (assuming power/control, affection/esteem, safety/security are what we need in order to be happy) rooted in the concerns of our usual self in this world and surrender to resting in a larger Self in God. Over time our sense of selfhood shifts into the spiritual Selfhood beyond this world, our Imaginal Selfhood. In our three-centered presence practices, our attention becomes subtilized and we register the subtle spiritual substances much more reliably. We come to recognize they actually bear an authentic power-pack, operative power as Teilhard call’s it, and under their influence the world simultaneously relaxes, softens, yields, enlivens, coheres, and grows. We do this work, albeit imperfectly, and yet it is our usual sense of selfhood that dies over and over again before we die and that is the necessary way of every spiritual path. It is not a problem to be solved but the very essence of the alchemy. Thank you for continuously holding your post.
Here the Readings from this week's pauses:
"It's hard to deny that our human psyche does seem to be perfectly anatomically wired for the job of bridging the realms: mediating between the infinite and the finite; the universal and the particular; the gross world of form and the more subtle realms, in a marvelous and mysterious two-way street. Almost as if it were deliberately set up that way. And in this mysterious cosmic assignment, if that's what it is, the finite parts of our selfhood are as vital and indispensable as our high-soaring infinite yearnings, and the tension between these two perspectives must not be collapsed, but rather, consciously borne. As that as that late wisewoman Helen Luke once famously remarked, "Wholeness is born out of the acceptance of the conflict of human and divine in the individual psyche." Not suppression of the conflict, but acceptance of it, as part of the sacred task of being a human being. If that's your map of transformation, as it has become mine, then the goal is to welcome all the voices, all perspectives, all the blessed ways in which we spontaneously hold dual citizenship in both the finite and formless realms. And rooted and grounded in both, we do our best to live here. worthily and with gusto, to bless and upload the fruits of our finitude directly into the divine heart--which is not "up," incidentally, but rather "all." — Cynthia Bourgeault, Love is the Answer, p 47-48 I think one of the real problems that we get into when we try, particularly in the west, to understand compassion, is that a lot of people have a hard time distinguishing it from pity or from charity--or from being a helper. What happens is that, as we tend to understand compassion, it implies a subtle power differential. Very often we place ourselves--through identification--on the side of the "haves." We are the ones who are practicing compassion, we are the doers and then there are the "done untos." It is like that great prayer:"Thank God, I am not like other men, but there for the grace of God go I." Well, drop out the "But for the grace of God" and [you are left with] "there go I" and you are closer to the truth. How do we eliminate the power differential? True compassion is not like that at all. True compassion is like love--like eros--in that it levels the playing field. True compassion creates out of what were hierarchical human relationships, a single wholeness. — Cynthia Bourgeault, Love is the Answer, p 49-50 ...Only the heart can see the fundamental nature of reality. The mind can never see the world as a coherent, unconditioned whole. That requires the heart to kick in, the heart as it is understood in the west, not as a source of emotion, not even as a source of empathy, but as an organ of spiritual perception which perceives by vibrational resonance. By being able to enter the insides of things, and sense holographically the pattern from the whole. Over and over in the west comes the refrain: "Put the mind in the heart; put the mind in the heart." ...As that happens, the conditioned self, that busy translator, acting, doing good, participating, motivating--is gone. What you begin to see on the inside is that the world looks intimate. Intimacy is the feeling tone, is the objective real description of the world seen from the perspective of the heart. There is an intimate belongingness--a cohesiveness--a coherence from the field. When you looks at the world from the heart, and see the intimacy, action flows out as effortless compassion. Effortless compassion is the external side of the coin, of which the internal is heart-perceived intimacy. — Cynthia Bourgeault, Love is the Answer, p 53-54