Our We have begun the season of Eastertide (Ascensiontide) as it is known in the Christian Tradition. It marks the time after the resurrection when Jesus was back on the earth encouraging and preparing his disciples to move forward living in the world (World 48, 96, etc.) but not of it. . . living from the kingdom of heaven (World 24). During these forty days, we too can receive assistance and be further prepared to live as the disciples were called to live. In that aim, wisdom teacher Cynthia Bourgeault has recently offered up a challenge to all who are interested in engaging it. You can read it here as well as listen to a podcast on the map of the worlds here. This challenge is not only to open ourselves up to personal assistance from Jesus and the conscious circle of humanity, but for collective assistance as we continue to navigate challenging territory here on this planet.
In the Gospel of Thomas, Yeshua says, “But the kingdom is inside you and it is outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are the children of the living Father/[Mother]” (Login 3). And “The Father’s /[Mother’s] kingdom is spread out upon the earth and people do not see it” (Logion 113). We know this and can live this reality now. Cynthia’s charge is in service of deepening this knowing and I am going to paraphrase her six points here, sharing how I see it:
First of all, we must move beyond our narrative self in time. This means letting go of, or fasting from, the story of ourselves as the whole of ourselves. It is not that the story of ourselves is bad, wrong or unnecessary but rather that it is incomplete and often keeps us focused on our own egoic orbit. By letting go of or fasting from it, we can see it, allow it, and even love it but not be in its grip.
Second, we can learn to re-collect and re-member ourselves in an effort to keep within the limits of our atmosphere, that egg shaped energy field or aura that surrounds us on all sides about 3-5 feet. We can learn to recognize when we are scattered and unhelpfully disorganizing our own nervous system or that of others. We can work to steward this atmosphere with the awareness that we are both the kernel of gold that is the unmovable essence at our core, and the weather of changing states that often need to move through without inhibiting or reactively catharting. If you want to experience an exercise on directly experiencing your atmosphere, join me in the pause this Friday at 7:30am Pacific, password wisdomsit.
Third, we can stop thinking about, theorizing, analyzing, and introspecting about our lives and the kingdom of heaven and come back to our own direct experience. Gurdjieff often told people not to take what he said as fact but to verify it in your own lived experience. As Quaker mystic, Isaac Penington said (paraphrased by Joseph Gurney Bevan), “There is a great difference, between comprehending the knowledge of things, and tasting the hidden life in them. I fed on the sweetness of the former, before finding the true manna of the latter.”
Fourth, make three-centered awareness (intellectual, emotional/feeling, movement/body) a priority all throughout your day in all things that you do. See which center is the quietest and turn up its volume. For example, if you are doing the dishes notice what that is like in your body, feel a sense of gratitude, and allow your mind to stay in the moment without going into the future or past. Just be there doing the dishes.
Fifth, make a point to connect to the awareness of your subtle body, what has been called in many traditions your second or Kesdjan body. If you have never heard of this you might think it strange but I encourage you to check it out for yourself and see what you notice. There is a more subtle energy field that radiates out from your cells and has a different quality of aliveness than our usual awareness. This is why the atmosphere exercise is so helpful in developing a connection to it.
Sixth, let go of anything that smells of measuring or counting as this is the typical way that world 48 operates. Measuring and counting are another way of getting caught in the intellectual center/mental constructs alone so often tied to outcome. Instead we can engage whatever is in front of us with as much presence of mind as possible. Cynthia uses the words, “unquantified obedience to the aim you have set” as a guiding principle.
Lastly, we can go about enjoying our lives with the intention in heart to not allow anything to lower our state of being. This cannot be manufactured. We cannot decide “I will not lower my state of being” for this often causes us to contract and constrict to maintain control. Instead, I would suggest when you notice your state of being getting pulled down, relax around it and notice that you are both the lower and the higher or relaxed.
When we do this work together we strengthen one another, nourishing and drawing nourishment from the great cosmic web we are part of. Let’s get to work.
Here most of the Readings from this week's pauses:
‘“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering — our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this, and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.”
— poem left beside the body of a dead child at Ravensbruck Death Camp
“This season of Eastertide (“the great fifty days,” as they’re known in liturgical tradition) actually divides into two parts. For the first forty days Jesus is back on the planet among his friends, and disciples, offering his final teaching and transmissions by way of a series of miraculous visitations known collectively as the resurrection appearances. Next comes the ascension. . . [and] ten days of hushed expectant waiting follow. Then comes the promised fiery descent of the Holy Spirit, which Christians celebrate as Pentecost.
. . . perhaps I am being a bit curmudgeonly when I suggest that this of all Christian seasons merits being kept as a fast, the Great Easter Fast. But I stick by my guns on this point. If we really understood what is at stake in this season—and what is spiritually possible during these exquisitely turbo-charged days—fasting would be a small enough price to pay. The window of opportunity is fairly narrow, but the opportunity itself is boundless.
Let me back up a bit and explain about fasting. A fast is not about penitence and beating up on yourself. That’s a very medieval attitude that totally distorts the meaning of fasting. A fast is really training—exactly like athletic training—so that our whole embodied being can be turned up to support a spiritual aim we wish to achieve. In the case of Eastertide, what’s at stake—the aim we are striving for—is our physical capacity to be available to truth at a sublet and much more intense level. Remember how Jesus, immediately after his baptism in the River Jordan, went into the desert for forty days of fasting? This was not a time of penitence and renunciation. He was actually ‘leaning out’ his nourishment at the physical level so that his heart would be able to listen more deeply and his subtle energetic body might feast directly on the flesh and blood of the divine Word stirring to life within him. He was fine-tuning his instrument so that he would be able to catch the more subtle drift of what was awaiting him up ahead.
I believe firmly that during these great fifty days of Easter, that same invitation is extended to each one of us: to catch the drift of what Jesus is really inviting us to and to deepen our capacity to receive the intense spiritual energy available to us during this sacred season as a catapult to our own transformation — rather than merely sloughing it off in partying and business as usual. Jesus is headed somewhere amazing during these fifty days, and we can follow right along if we can keep up.”
— Cynthia Bourgeault (The Wisdom Jesus, p. 125-127)
"Thank you for this day of ritual devotions
Guide me to the mat, the trail, the teapot, the canvas, and the confrontation table today, so that I may test my flexibility and stay true to my form all the way to my edge.
Be my mirror, my educator in matters of discipline and rhythm. Open the shelter of my mind to constructive, caring feedback.
Let all that comes to me be my teachers. Move my form and feelings with dedicated habits.
Help me to rehearse for growing stronger and more resilient.
Stand me up like a mountain: spread my arms wide, expanding and clearing the valves of my heart to help me to move from it.
Point my fingers skyward and widen my stance.
Wrap enormous wings around my legs to strengthen my rooted position.
Train me for the battle which takes place within me in the form of fear and resistance.
Help me to create spaciousness inside of my container to make steady progress with my breath, my invocations, and the attitudes that initiate my day.
Lead air into my lungs which comforts the grief held there.
Enhance my supportive routines with the golden light of your encouragement which shines through repetition.
Let my body be a living ceremony.
Bring me back to Presence when I wander.
Help me to refocus without shame when I lose my way.
Make me brave to notice where my balance falters and I compromise my integrity.
Rededicate me when I discover what I’m holding and protecting.
Get me back on conscious feet when I fall.
Let my wingspan be the bridge between my spirit and my body.
Ignite the fires of my willingness during times of challenge and overcoming obstacles.
Put in front of me those who will help me persevere in my attempts to effectively resolve inner and outer conflict.
Remind me of my tools for perceiving what prevents my flow.
Help me be attentive to my part in maintaining the quality of relationship I am called to cultivate.
Help me puzzle together my healing form with the help of Earth’s electricity moving upward through the soles of my feet.
Let me know I am not alone, and that I never need to do it perfectly."
— Pixie Lighthorse
“Julian of Norwich’s message is as relevant now as it was in the Middle Ages: God loves us completely, exactly as we are.
‘Then he showed me a small thing, the size of a hazelnut, nestled in the palm of my hand,’ Julian writes. ‘It was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eyes of my understanding and thought, What can this be? And the answer came to me: It is all that is created. I was amazed that it could continue to exist. It seemed to me to be so little that it was on the verge of dissolving into nothingness. And then these words entered my understanding: It lasts, and will last forever, because God loves it. Everything that is has its being through the love of God.’”
— Mirabai Starr, Julian of Norwich: The Showings